Avoiding the fiddly-factor

Ergonomics has become a major factor in modern engineering product design. This was, however, not always the case which means many older mechanisms can be difficult to use and in need of improvement.

A good example is the humble zip After more than 100 years, the zip is still used ubiquitously to join fabrics and materials together from garments to bags to tents, the world over. The zip (or zipper) is incredibly elegant in engineering terms, using rows of protruding interlocking teeth that can be made in a variety of sizes and materials for a variety of functions. There have been various iterations over the years that have seen the zipper enable waterproof and even air tight mating between the two different rows of teeth. There are two key areas of the zip, however, that can be the cause of frustration. Bringing together the two halves of a zip at the bottom, to correctly align and start the zip, can be a tricky exercise in some circumstances. The 'Insertion Pin Boll', is the part that is inserted in to the 'Retainer Box', so that zipping can begin. The problem, however, is that bringing these two halves together is not always straightforward. A classic example is when gloves are worn, perhaps in a hazardous environment or indeed when its rather chilly outside. Taking gloves off is not always an option, and even if it is (in the cold, for example) shivering and shaking makes bringing the ends together virtually impossible. And, of course, there are those with degenerative disorders that make using zips a frustrating and time consuming exercise. The Challenge The challenge this month is, therefore, to come up with an alternative for the base of a two half zipper: the Insertion Pin Boll and Retainer Box. These two halves need to come together more quickly and much more easily, and in exact alignment, in all circumstances and conditions. The solution should clearly be simple and low-cost, as the zipper by its very nature needs to be cheap to make. The idea is to remove the fiddly frustration of a zip, so the acid test for any design is: can you do the zipper up one-handed? While simply going larger is one solution, this still requires some element of inserting one element into the other, and with one hand it would still score high in 'fiddly-factor'. This is what we want to avoid! Clips that clasp together could be another option, but how would you bring these together? The solution we have in mind answers this dilemma and has the potential to be applied to any zipper, of any size, and is due to make its debut in ski-wear later this year. In the meantime, however, see what you can come up to solve this conundrum. -Solution- Soltuion to the July 2014 Coffee Time Challenge The solution to the July 2014 challenge to produce a better zipper that can be used one-handed comes from US based DNS Design. It has produced the Magzip, which uses small magnets that snap together the ends of zippers in exact alignment. Magzip was originally conceived after a relative of designer Scott Peters, suffering from Myotonic Dystrophy, was having problems zipping up a jacket. He found that fundamental to the problem was the way zippers start, and set off on an easier method of bringing them together to allow zipping to start. He, along with his mother and a neighbour, found magnets offered the best solution. Putting magnets at the ends of a zipper allowed the two ends of the zip to snap together and align properly. After many months of tinkering to get the design right, Magzip was born. www.dnsdesignsllc.com