Simple product design

Eugéne
14 min readJun 1, 2020

Hi, my name is Abhishek Eugene Bage and I’m an Industrial Design student at the National Institute of Design, Andhra Pradesh.

In this particular blog, I would like to share my work and process during the course of simple product design under the guidance of Mr.Kuntal De. This is a module that has taken place during my 4th semester at the National Institute of Design, Andhra Pradesh. This course was for 8 weeks and has taken place during the quarantine period of the Covid-19 global pandemic. For this project, the first week was for understanding an assembly line, 5 weeks were given to do the research and conceptualization and 2 weeks were kept aside for prototyping once we could go back to our institution.

During the first week of our journey into this course, we were asked to take a product and open it up. Our product was an old radio. Then once we had opened up the radio we started to disassemble it.

This was done in order to understand the assembly line of the product and how all the parts come together. This gives us an understanding of how different pieces fit in to make a whole.

Starting with the main project.

Day 1:

We were to take a simple product, in my case I took a toothpaste tube. It has a simple cap mechanism and squeeze-type product.

Then we had to take two extreme scenarios, one was to imagine the simplest form of the tube and one complex form of the tube. For the simple iteration, I let the tube be as is because it’s a fairly simple product, to begin with.

For the complex product, I chose to give a particular function to the ideation. I was to make a toothpaste dispenser for someone who does not fingers or limbs. To do this I thought of a mechanism of a dispenser with optic sensors. One has to put the brush through the cavity in the main body and the optic sensor will allow for a small amount of paste to be released onto the brush. this completely removes the squeezing factor out of the traditional toothpaste tube. The paste is stored in the transparent container which can be replaced once the toothpaste is over. There is a suction cup at the bottom of the body of the dispenser which sticks to wet surfaces, like the ones on a basin in a bathroom.

Day 2:

Thinking of three taxing scenarios for my chosen product(toothpaste tube), this is done just to get more ideas and see how different contexts may change the product.

Scenario 1:

Scenario 2:

Scenario 3:

Day 3 & 4 :

These two days were given to us to think about a context to come up with our design brief. We were asked to keep a broad brief so that we get a direction for this project but at the same time not get stuck on something and keep evolving our brief to come to a solid conclusion.

Initially, I had thought about many contexts around this product which allowed me to make multiple briefs.

#1-To make a toothpaste dispenser for airports to facilitate transit passengers.

#2-To make a toothpaste dispenser for people with physical shortcomings.

#3-To create a single oral hygiene device for quick, convenient and thorough cleaning.

First brief:

To design a dentifrice dispenser which can be easily used by people with no hands or fingers.

Day 5&6:

Today’s objective was to question the process. This way we could understand and look at the many small details which could help us develop our design further.

The flow chart below would help in looking at the entirety of the process and questioning certain things that we wouldn’t otherwise.

To use the toothpaste tube one has to remove the lid and then squeeze the tube to take the paste out. People with hands take it out on the brush but if someone doesn’t have hands he/she may have to take the toothpaste directly in their mouths. So one way over the other the tube needs to be squeezed to take the toothpaste out. Therefore I’m required to find another way to take the toothpaste out of the tube or to dispense it.

Understanding the product and process:

Toothpaste dispenser

  • how big is the dispenser
  • who uses the toothpaste dispenser
  • how often is it used
  • where is it kept (shelf, rack or pouch)
  • how is it kept
  • should it be waterproof
  • how long is the use
  • how much paste is required to be dispensed at a time
  • can it be made portable i.e. used by people who are traveling
  • is it manual, automated or semi-automated
  • are any type of digital sensors required
  • are there any buttons, knobs or sliders
  • what materials are used
  • can it be disposed of easily

The user:

  • who is the user
  • how often do they use it
  • can it be used by other types of users
  • what do they do before and after the use of the product

The process:

  • how does it dispense the toothpaste
  • can it be used for other pastes or gels
  • does it require any sort of touch
  • is it independent of the user or requires some input
  • can it be done by one for another
  • will small children be able to use it

Asking these types of questions will allow me to take multiple things into consideration whilst developing the idea of my product and will allow for newer interpretations of the idea which can improve the idea. It can also show me what the important bits are for the product so that I can focus on the desired outcomes and not get lost in the vastness of possibilities.

Day 7:

Product history:

We were asked to research the history of our individual products, in my case a toothpaste tube. After doing this I found out that in the early period, people only worried about how to clean teeth and looked for different materials to clean their teeth. Later after the industrial revolution was when we started manufacturing toothpaste as a product.

Between 5000BC and 1873AD, toothpaste only existed in powder form so the only thing that changed over time was its constituents. After 1873 the powder changed into another form which was of creme and later became a paste/gel. During this time not only did the constituents changed but the form and packaging also changed, which meant that the overall product changed.

Day 8 & 9:

Research Goals:

  • to find a new technology which can help in portable and hands-free dispensing of toothpaste
  • to integrate the process of brushing and putting the toothpaste on a brush together
  • to simplify the process of brushing for someone without fingers or hands or has some deformity or problem with motor skills.

Parallel Products:

To start my product research I first looked into existing products that dispense a type of dental cleaning liquid and these were the few that I found.

  • Chew Sticks: Chew sticks are used as mouth fresheners and like the name suggests one is supposed to chew on with to clean teeth. This has been done for a very long and this can be dated to as far as 3500BC in the Mesopotamian regions.
  • Chewing Gum: Chewing Gums are often used as temporary mouth freshers and are widely used all around the world today.
  • Toothpaste Pills: Toothpaste pills are a fairly new way of using toothpaste and can be very handy in some situations where water is not available, you just bite it and brush regularly. This was also created to reduce the use to plastics in making toothpaste tubes.
  • Mechanical Toothpaste Dispenser: These mechanical toothpaste dispenser work on very simple push and suction mechanism, you push the brush in the hole which triggers a suction mechanism which dispenses the toothpaste onto the toothnrush.
  • Toothpaste Squeezer: This is a very simple product where you turn a knob to apply pressure to squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube.

Day 9 & 10:

User Research:

After a brief time of user research, I started a small brain forming session to put down some ideas…….

Widening of the user set:

The previous set of the user together makes up a very small percentage of the people so I decided to widen the user set to people with hand disorders which creates problems whilst doing basic handheld tasks.

This is a skeletal structure of a human hand and is comprised of many small bones, not to mention the nerves and the muscles that surround it. There are many with some kind of deformities or infections in their hands which can cause many restrictions on handheld tasks. Carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger fingers, Ganglion cyst, Osteoarthritis, etc. These kinds of deformities, infections, and nerve compression syndromes have often caused trouble for many people.

To know more about these diseases visit the following links:

last visited on 19/3/2020.

Adding the people who face these problems would create a good opportunity for my product. So according to my user research, I am left with two scenarios:

#1: To design a product that can be used by someone who doesn’t have fingers or hands.

#2: To design a product that can be used by people who cannot use their hands efficiently or at all due to certain abnormalities.

New brief: To create a toothpaste dispensing unit to ease the process for people with reduced motor skills in their hands.

Identifying my user:

Identifying the user is very important and if the user group is not defined then it’ll be difficult to design a product. Without the user, the product serves no purpose, and the need for innovation and creativity is lost.

Product Features:

After a brainstorming session of analyzing the product, its history, its user group, and the process of use of the product I have come up with certain key features with can be very important to the design of the new or improved product.

  • hands-free
  • waterproof
  • automated
  • reduce user error
  • fall damage
  • connected
  • compact
  • fast charge
  • time saver
  • daily driver

Day 11:

all the research till now

Today we were asked to look at our entire research again and look at it from different perspectives and add more meaning to the already selected keywords. Going back to the bigger picture helps to see and question one process in order to analyze and move further ahead with conceptualizing and user response. The added meaning to my given set of keywords is shown below in the chart.

Day 13 -15:

Conceptualization:

These are my first few concepts and now I’m trying to make more simple versions of it and other new concepts.

Day 16 –18 :

Since this brief of this project was to come up with a simple product, I have tried to come up with more feasible concepts and just simplifying some ideas.

This concept was inspired by a bullet magazine, came to my mind because I’ve been playing a lot of video games lately.

After making the sketch model I realized that I will need to use more than one compartment for the pill storage and made the dispenser cylindrical or oblong with a wider base than the body. I also figured that I would need to make the dispenser a little wider because this concept will need to be stable on its base for one-handed use.

After making this sketch model I figured that I will need to make the neck thinner as compared to the stalk so that it can go inside the mouth easily and also work on the attachments of the parts because it needs to be assembled together in a particular way.

Day 19:

After looking at both my concepts I had to finally pick one, to work on further. To do this I had to compare both of the concepts and see if it fits my product feasibility and usability criteria.

After looking at the pros and cons of both and looking at the user requirements I’ve finalized on the toothpaste pill dispenser being the final concept which I will take forward for formal explorations.

Day 20–22:

Toothpaste pill Dispenser: Start with the final conceptualization of the product and overall dimensions of the product. While exploring the different possibilities of how my final product looks I had to keep in mind many things. Product semantics being a major part of it and I had to find a balance between the form and the function of the design. My design’s primary focus is its function because I have tried to make an alternative of the toothpaste tube but I have tried to achieve a semantically correct form for the same too. The pictures below will show my journey to come up with my final product and the different parts in it.

About My Product:

My product proposal is target at people who have limited or reduced motor skills in their hands. It is a toothpaste pill dispenser. Its aim is to be a substitute for the toothpaste tube which is widely used all throughout the world.

Materials used:

Bottle and Cap- HDPE [high-density polyethylene]

Spring- tempered high carbon steel [d-2mm]

Day 23–25:

Final detailing of the product(FORM) with dimensions and cad models. I took inspiration from an elephant and an owl at first for no particular reason though. Finally, after a few thoughts, I finalized an owl as the primary inspiration.

My first finalized form exploration felt too rigid to me and didn't fit in the bathroom setting in my opinion.
My final form proposition, it is an overall softer form which can fit amongst the other toiletries.

Process of use:

CAD model: attempt 1

Rough dimensions for my final cad model
Cad model render

Attempt 2: I wasn't happy with the last exploration so I made another one with minor changes.

orthographic drawing
material exploration: glass to show internal parts

Value Addition:

Whenever there is a new design out there it brings about a small change or brings a certain value with its use. If it is a redesigned product it adds values to its existing design with creates a USP[unique selling point] for itself. This is very important for a product to be absorbed in the market.

The Values that my product will add:

  • Newness: It will act as an alternative to the widely used toothpaste tube and could be used by anyone
  • Helpfulness: Toothpaste removal will be a more forgiving task for everyone, especially for people with hand problems.
  • Hassel-free: The use of this product won’t dirty the place.
  • Refillable: Once the pills are over, more pills can be refilled in the dispenser which will reduce polymer waste.

My learnings:

Acknowledgement:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my faculty and guide Mr. Kuntal De for helping, guiding, and teaching me about many things that one should take into consideration in the process of designing any product. I would also like to thank my fellow classmates who also helped me out whenever in need and giving me feedback on my work which helped me during this entire process of making a simple product.

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