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A product design blog containing unique observations, advice and ideas to improve objects from the mind of Product Tank.

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design ideas - Door stop

A while ago I designed and built a model kitchen with an extendable 'reach over' tap.  Initially I made the tap arms too small and had to make them again, but one of the waste parts somehow ended up as my door stop.  Since then it's been very useful, working so well I'm considering making more for the other doors in the house.


design ideas - Flooding #2

Alas, the rain continues.... and combined with the wind direction, rain is being blown onto the back door of the house.  This has meant that every time I open the door to go out to my shed to make a model or two, water runs off the door and drips off it's end scribing a perfect arc onto the floor inside.  It's becoming annoying.  I can't believe that door manufacturers haven't come up with a nice cosmetic way to gutter the water off the door to prevent this, which would be an additional USP and could easily be provided as an additional option. 

5 minutes with photoshop provided me with a design solution, a gutter that runs along and extends beyond the edge of the door when open.  I'll admit my modification is not that beautiful (if I spent more time on it I could make it amazing), but even like this, it's better than having to continually lay and change newspaper every time it rains.


design idea - Flooding

This week, the rain in blighty has reached near biblical proportions.  It's autumn and many roads have become flooded as fallen leaves have blocked drains causing several problems.  As a driver, you don't know where the edge of the road is and you also don't know where the drain is if you want to try an unblock it. I was wondering if I could come up with a design solution to solve these issues, so generated two ideas that are cheap to manufacture from plastic and polystyrene and are retrofittable to a current drain.

1. is a float that sits in the drain and as it starts to fill raises to indicate where the drain is. 

2. is an idea to stop the drain blocking by having a floating cage lift up to prevent leaves from clogging the top of the drain.   Both have issues, but are ideas in progress.


model making - sneak peek

Amongst other things, I'm currently designing and building a car, but it's going to be a long time before it's completed.  I only get to work on it on the weekends as it's too cold in the evenings.  I'm just glad I decided to make a scale model as at one point it was going to be full size.  When I was younger and keener, I used to be out in my shed in freezing temperatures working away late into the evening.  Now a little older, I must admit that after a long days work, the motivation is lacking.  Am I becomming an armchair designer?  I might have to start designing one of those as well!


design competition - Braun Prize 2012

Product Tank wins the Braun Prize Professional & Enthusiasts category for Uk/Ireland for his kitchen design.  I have no idea how many professional & Enthusiast entrants there were from blighty, it could have just been me, however I'm very pleased as I can now say I am an award winning product designer.


design idea - ear buddy

A while ago I read an artice regarding litter on beaches.  People use cotton buds, then flush them down the toilet.  13,000 were found on 400 beaches surveyed this year.  I've heard there is a move to try and make the tubes out of cardboard rather than plastic, so that they degrade. 

I wonder if a reusable cotton bud design concept - not for make up, just for cleaning ears, made from a very low shore silicone, that could then be washed under a tap and stored in the bathroom cabinet would be a way to further reduce the problem of litter?

My gran always said the only thing you should put in your ear is your elbow, she must have been double jointed! But despite her advice, people still clean their ears with these things, myself included.


Smelling of roses

On this particular day, I feel it is the ideal time to release my latest invention.  Deep in the product tank labs I have been getting to the bottom of a difficult problem, but the end is in sight.  I have developed a tablet (called ro-dour, a clever blend of the words rose and odour) that makes the users poo smell of roses.  Various people in the past thought their poo smelt of roses, but until now they have been kidding themselves! 

I've also been working on spray on pants - with mixed results.

Happy April 1st.


design idea - safety syringe

I've been playing around with ways to make simple everyday things safer.  Whilst looking at how needles are disposed I wondered why the lid couldn't be made into a disposing feature. 

When the lid is placed back over the needle and firmly pushed on it locks, making the needle safe and the two parts very difficult to separate.  The assembly can then be safely removed from the syringe and disposed and a new needle and lid fitted by pushing the syringe into the needle whilst holding onto its collar.


design idea - Wash your mouth out

Whilst brushing my teeth, I was wondering if you could simply combine a mouth wash bottle with an optic (that dispenses measures of alcohol in bars). So you could either fill the cap, or drink from the bottle, but each time it would be a measured result.  I spent about an hour doing a very quick doodle of an initial ideas (obviously not fully resolved!).

The images show a section of the bottle, so imagine a round bottle was cut in half and the exposed faces couloured in. 

The bottle has a inner assembly ultrasonically welded into it (in blue, green and red).  The idea being that you shake the bottle (as you would normally), then turn it upside down (2) and depress the raised button in the cap.  This forces a rod to act against a sealing valve (in red) opening it and allowing mouthwash to flow into a reservoir.  The cap could be clear so that you can see this happening.  Once you release your finger, the valve would close and you can turn the bottle the right way up. 

The air trap (2) is important as it means that the reservoir cannot be filled completely, so when the bottle is turned the right way up, the liquid will not be level with the top (3) so it won't spill when you unscrew the lid.  You now have a system that will always give you an exact measure that can be poured into something. 

It would be good to try and reduce the part count further, but the added tooling complexity would probably prove very costly.  It would also be good to replace the spring with a plastic substitute as this would be an expensive part when the production is viewed as a whole, but shelf life has to also be considered if the bottle is stored in a stock room for a year before being sold.  Metal spring force remains constant where as plastic memory means it looses efficiency over time. This has probably been done before, but hey.


design idea - watersaver 01

I've been thinking about a series of water saving devices.  It seems such a waste to not use water that is often just running down the plug hole whilst we brush our teeth, wash our faces or whilst showering.  The first simple idea is a hand basin thet fills a toilet cistern.  Once full the water simply overflows and goes down the drain. The cistern would self fill if there was more flushing than hand washing going on.


design idea - watersaver 02

Why not have a storage tank for filtered water that would otherwise go down the drain.   Once again a stop cock could divert water away from the filter once the tank was full.  If the mains burst etc it would mean the household still had a source of clean drinkable water.


design idea - watersaver 03

Have a wash and grow your own.  A little tenuous I admit, although not un-achievable.  Apparently we are taking longer showers, which is using in some cases almost as much water as a bath, this water could be easily filtered from soap and go straight on the garden.  Wash your spuds, then water them!


Peanut butter jam

Save time in the morning by  spreading and jar opening less, with Product Tanks 'outstanding' Peanut Butter Jam, bought to you by the makers of Sugarcoffee and pre-buttered bread.

Plus for that early morning wake up, just stare at the jar graphic for two minutes


12.01.10 - Having just spoken to a friend who's been to the USA, a company called 'Smuckers' already makes this stuff, they call it Goober.  Just goes to show, I get bored, think it would be fun to freeze peanut butter, drill holes in it and fill those holes with jam and some one has already beaten me to it!


design idea - improved dust pipe

A quick bit of work with the saw and the design prototype has been improved.  It does give advantages over the dust mask as your lips create a seal around the tube so no dust can get in.  With nasal plugs you would avoid the risk of breathing in through the nose, but as discussed in the last post.  The draw backs are still the same.


design idea - dust pipe

I've been making a lot of models recently, but the disposable masks I wear to stop breathing in all the dust I create, never seem to properly fit (could be the masks or just the shape of my face).  The problem is designing something that fits properly around everyones nose and mouth.

Whilst pondering this problem, I came up with a dust pipe concept, like a smokers pipe with dust mask parts covering the intake.  Initial experiments prove that it is not ideal.  It works as long as you remember not to breath through your nose and it needs an inbuilt reservoir to collect all the drool you breath down the pipe.  Also shortening it so that it fits much closer to the face away from what your working on will help or an adaption to a divers snorkle? It's a work in progress!

Please consider the idea and not be distracted by my freaky monkey hand.


design idea - boiling hot kettle

Following my recent kettle design project, I can't help wonder why kettles are not insulated to save time and energy when reboiling.  We've all boiled a kettle then not used that water because friends have been delayed etc, then reboiled the water on their arrival to make a cup of tea.  My question would be, would the energy lost in manufacturing kettles with insulated walls be won back with interest, by saving energy on reboiling over the life of the kettle.  Fire risk aside, maybe all current kettles should be given jumpers, just like the traditional tea cosy.


design idea - Dental floss

I bought a box of dental sticks/floss harps (one stick pictured) but it seems such a waste to use them and throw them away, although I must admit, having the floss held in a bow is much better than pulling floss from a reel and doing the sawing action with both hands (bleeding gums!). 

So I've been thinking about combining the best elements of both.  A replaceable cartridge holds the floss, which with a simple stop device allows the user to pull off one revolution of floss from the reel.  The old section of floss is held fast and cut off in the floss lock.  Replacement cartridges could be sold, greatly reducing the ammount of waste.  There may be a few hygeine issues, but the one piece device could be easily washable, which is only the same as using a toothbrush.



All the mugs I own are of different shapes and sizes and I've been musing about ways to make them more easy to carry, without using a tray, so I've been looking at designing one with a non slip rubberised area, that stops the other two from slipping and spilling, or designing mugs with ribs, that lock together when picked up, to make it easier to carry 3/4 cups to a table without a tray.



I'm at that age where I now go to dinner parties more than I go to the pub.  Whilst around a friends house I watched as the hostess poured the dessert cream into a jug, so that it looked better on the table than the pot it was bought in. 

At the end of the meal whilst I was helping clean up, she poured the leftover cream back into the pot, to put it back in the fridge.  When I asked why, she said, because the pot has a lid and her jugs do not.  I avoided all double entendre by concentrating on how easy it would be to design a range of presentable vessels with lids, so she could put her jugs on the table and in the fridge, without the cream spoiling or her having to use cling film (saran wrap/plastic wrap).



I like my cheese and biscuits, so I always have more than one cracker.  The problem is, whilst it's easy to butter the first cracker, the second one has to rest on the lip of the plate (to fit on the plate) and often breaks as you try to spread butter on it, which is annoying.  I know this is really small potatoes, but I don't want to butter my crackers on a board, or use a bigger plate - that creates more washing up, I want a plate that allows me to butter my crackers without them breaking.  Crackers you say? A simple design with a gently sloping area over the whole plate or just on one half solves the problem, all sorts of shapes and styles possible.