Digital Softgood Prototyping
New software solutions, such as Clo3D and Gerber AccuMark, have enabled users to both simulate and test garments digitally. These tools help designers and developers visualize apparel concepts faster, while limiting unnecessary textile waste. The goal of Arrest Air was to design an inflatable sleeping pad, a product outside these softwares’ typical scope, to push the boundaries of prototyping softgoods for the outdoor space.
Proof of concept prototypes were made to test the viability of high frequency seam welding and pressurizing textiles in the digital space. Starting with simple test swatches and scaling to more complex full-scale pads, patterns were welded and inflated to iterate without the need for physical sampling. Material presets built into the software were utilized to create as accurate and realistic of a simulation as possible in the 3D space.
While these simulations cannot represent real-world fabrics with 100% accuracy, they are a good starting point to test the limits of complex textile simulations and their feasibility as a communication tool for softgood designers.
Form & Function
Concept development integrated functional details into a contemporary and adaptive form. A full length welded seam pattern, inspired by auxetic structures in nature, was tuned to adapt to the body and its movements while keeping the user comfortably off the ground. Patterning waste was also integrated into the design to provide strength to components that normally break or see high wear through extended use.
Drawing from extensive anthropometric data developed by the US military, each air pad is designed to accommodate specific body types and anatomical needs, giving users ground protection where their body needs it the most. A tapered mummy profile reduces material usage and pack weight, while dynamic zones of interconnected air chambers evenly disperse pressure, improving stability during the night.
Arrest Air’s internal architecture is developed for optimal thermal efficiency. Targeted welds limit air movement while a suspended reflective layer redirects radiated heat away from the ground and back onto the user.
To last the full life-cycle of the product, details built into Arrest Air allow for utility and longevity through extended use. An integrated valve leash reduces the need for extra moulded components while providing weight savings and increased durability. A low profile valve assembly provides easy access to inflation adjustments while being unobtrusive and out of the way when sleeping.
Interactions between surrounding surfaces are carefully considered with the addition of silicone prints on both faces of the air pad. Textured prints prevent slippage between the air pad, sleeping bag and tent floor, creating a stable sleeping surface.
Balancing the benefits of weight and strength, Arrest Air utilizes two different weights of nylon fabrics for targeted durability. A 30D ripstop top face provides weight savings, while puncture resistant 60D nylon delivers increased ground protection. Each material has an internal, anti-microbial TPU coating to prevent mold and bacterial growth.
On-trend colour stories are used as a tool to communicate product specifications. Softer colours help visually lift the Ultralite sleep pad series, elevating the perceived sense of weightlessness, while darker colours on the Insulated series provide an increased perception of insulation and warmth.
From initial sketch to final concept, new textile simulation softwares have proven to be a viable option for designers to conceptualize softgoods. While there is no substitute to physical prototyping, adopting new digital tools could help divert materials that would have otherwise ended up as waste. These tools were not specifically built for complex softgoods, but the development of Arrest Air showcases the potential to expand textile simulation softwares to a wider array of products.