The design and engineering team at Creative Mechanisms has a long history of creating and tinkering with useful mechanisms in the consumer product development process. Much of the product development work that we do is protected by NDAs, so we are limited in what we can share with the public. However, our design and engineering team occasionally devotes time to create original products in order to showcase our capability. For example, our team recently created a silicone and polypropylene baby spoon that serves multiple functions: feeding, teething, soothing, and fostering hygiene habits. (Read the blog and watch the video.) Our lead model maker Gary was inspired to create the baby teething spoon after watching his young grandson attempt to eat. A few iterations later, and...voila! A new consumer product had been developed.
Improving consumer products: a one hand operated child resistant cap
Shu is another member of the Creative Mechanisms team that has designed and modeled a patent-pending mechanism that has exciting applications for the consumer product development world: a child resistant cap that can be operated with only one hand. The uses here are varied; besides the obvious application of prescription medicines, other products like cleaning supplies, rat poisons, and pool chemicals would be great candidates for an enclosure with this type of lid. Additionally, adults benefit from the convenience that comes with only having to use one hand to open a bottle. Let’s take a look at this innovation and learn more!
To operate this child resistant lid, one needs to depress the bottom tab, tilt the middle tab, and then access the contents when the actual lid opens. It’s possible to open this lid with your thumb while holding the enclosure in the same hand. It’s made entirely from polypropylene that we CNC machined in our shop.
You can also view this short video of an earlier model of our child resistant lid:
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What is a living hinge, and why is it important to product development?
You’ll notice this child-resistant lid has multiple living hinges. A living hinge can be described as a purposeful fault line at a predetermined point in a material (almost always polypropylene, but read about other living hinge materials here) which is carefully designed such that it doesn’t fail after repeated bending. It is basically a connection between two parent pieces of plastic that can rotate 180 degrees or more as necessary, and can withstand thousands (or even millions!) of cycles. Incorporating living hinges into consumer products (like ketchup bottles) allows enclosures to be accessed many times without fail.
In this particular example, the living hinges are also an important part of the child-resistant design. An earlier iteration of this product had the ring that is used to block depression of the lower button unless it is moved out of the way by holding it down with your thumb. We added this ring feature as some members of our team thought the original design might be too easy to accomplish and not pass certification. The added part increased the manual dexterity required to operate the closure, which decreases the likelihood of children gaining access.
We offer our clients reduced development costs, lower product costs, and bringing more innovation to the design process. For instance, in the child-proof cap featured above, we wanted to ensure that the lid would be difficult for someone with limited dexterity, but adding a second part to the closure was something that would increase costs. Rather than create another part, our team was able to integrate the same functionality into a one part design with some expert engineering...which also reduced assembly time!
Our team has worked successfully with many clients to get their products on the shelves. Rather than simply being design and engineering experts, we have a lot of experience with the product development process in general (vetting ideas, iterating on designs, designing for the appropriate manufacturing process, prototyping, and questions about patenting). Depending on where you are in the product development process, you may find one of our online courses helpful. You may also be interested in reading what former clients have to say about the incredible service we provide. Please call us today if you have questions about bringing your product to market!
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