The DAP Expanding Foam Pellet is an innovative alternative to spray foam. It is inserted into a hole, crack or crevice and then activated by water to expand the foam. The DAP Foam Pen is an intuitive, reusable pen that writes with precision control!
In our Sustainability and Social Responsibility class for MICA, we studied the impacts that design has on the world around us and the kinds of strategies that can be used to help create products that are non-toxic, low-impact, energy efficient, life-cycle sensitive, as well as, made from reused/recycled materials and sustainably produced. For our class project, we partnered with a company called DAP, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. DAP is the leading marketer of caulks, sealants, adhesives, insulating foams, spackling, glazing, and other general patch and repair products.
DAP tasked our class to:
Better understand how and why DIYers use spray foams and how they feel about spray foams so that DAP can design new products that get the spray foam jobs done, but in a more satisfactory way.
In order to do this, we needed to:
We recruited 8 different research participants, with a variety of different backgrounds and experience levels, for 90 minute in-depth interviews. By observing and asking them questions as they tested out DAP and competitor products we were able to gain insights and empathize with the users as they used spray foam.
The comments and observations from the user interviews were varied, but there were some common themes that many respondents mentioned, such as – “(DAP) product seems less durable because it’s softer and cracks after it sets” and “it’s drippy, messy and hard to clean up…”
Key takeaways from the interview I conducted included –
What is Spray Foam?
What is Spray Foam Used for?
Easily and cheaply fill a gap
Mostly exterior use, need for internal
Cost & Time
Total time of less than 15 minutes
Will pay more for better look
Dislikes & Frustrations
Lack of control
Mystery end result
The insights and observations across all the interviews were then synthesized in terms of ‘Consumer Sentiment’, ‘User Experience’, and ‘Task Analysis’.
Next, we developed several problem statements before narrowing down our focus to 4 set areas: (1) Spray Foam Externally Activated, (2) Spray Foam as an Art, (3) Spray Foam as a Different Functions, (4) Spray Foam for Service.
I worked with a couple of others on the 1st area – External Activation. We went through a session of rapid prototyping where we developed a couple of short term solutions in the form of a foam pen and foam pellet.
DAP Foam Pen: designed based on the consumer need for an intuitive and easy to use spray foam product. Operationally, the DAP Foam Pen is much like the Tide-To-Go stain remover sticks. Users simply pick up the pen, give it a shake, and then begin drawing over the crack in the wall that they are looking to fill. The substance that comes out from the pen as you draw is in liquid form, but after 5 minutes, the liquid bubbles up into the form of traditional spray foam, sealing the crack.
DAP Expanding Foam Pellet: inspired by the XSTAT by RevMedX, this prototype is for a water-activated foam pellet that can be put into place, then sprayed with water so that it expands and hardens into the shape of the gap or crack that it is filling. Consumers can either use as many pellets as suits the size of the job, with an injector to get the pellets into hard-to-reach areas. With water activation, users have another level of control, and pellets are safe to handle until users choose to activate the expansion. Consumers can easily manipulate the pellet, and they can be certain of exactly how much they are using for a task because they can see the pellet size, and determine how many they would like to use for a job.
Other short term solutions and incremental improvements for DAP spray foam from the consumer insights included: color change of the foam as it dries to indicate hardness / doneness, disposable straws so that it can be re-used, smaller cans / single use cans, auditory feedback when shaking to know when the foam is ready to use.
The main goals with these prototypes were to create a non-toxic and safe to touch and handle product, which were some of the concerns with spray foams that we had noticed in interviews.
MBA/MA in Design Leadership
Sustainability and Social Responsibility
Credit: Akhil Chugh, Tianbo Han, Megan Mills, Sylvia Vadakara
Date: March – May 2014