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Annual Design Awards
FLUB-PROOF BUG CONTROL
If prizes were given out for homeliness, the Demon Dispenser would definitely get one. Instead, it received a gold this year for its supreme functionality. The product is designed to "visually communicate" to your neighborhood exterminator exactly how to measure out Demon-brand roach insecticide made by ICI Americas Inc. The dispenser is built to ensure that you get just the right amount of chemical each time, without spilling. No manuals needed. Moreover, the polypropylene and styrene parts break apart easily for recycling.
It may look like nothing more than a fancy stopper, but the Demon Dispenser required as much materials and engineering knowhow as it did ergonomic expertise. It's a clear example of how designers who understand manufacturing and materials are able to work with engineers to get the best product out.
EARLY BIRDS. In the case of the Demon Dispenser, the designer, Peter Bressler, asked that a team be assembled from ICI Americas' purchasing, procurement, materials, quality assurance, and marketing departments. "We insisted on getting everyone involved in the process together very early," says Bressler. "We didn't want to design something, then throw it over the wall to the engineering and supply departments only to find outlater that they couldn't make it."
Teaming up early was a good move. Two problems quickly arose. First, the insecticide is an extremely fine powder that's hard to control. Second, the dispenser was going to be given away with jugs of the insecticide, so it had to be made from an inexpensive plastic. The choice was polypropylene. It could handle the powder and was fairly cheap. But it warped easily.
Fortunately, Bressler had experience working with plastics. He and Topcraft Precision Molders Inc. subtly adjusted the mold's specifications again and again to get the polypropylene to hold the shape of the design.
A FLIP AND A TWIST. In the end, a dispenser was designed so that an exterminator puts it on top of a jug filled with roach-killer. By flipping the Demon over and twisting it, a precise amount of insecticide is measured into a compartment of the dispenser. With another twist, the insecticide is released into a container of water, where it dissolves and is ready to be sprayed around the house or store.
Anyone picking up the Demon Dispenser can immediately see how to use it. "That visual communication is really the key," Bressler says. "You can't read directions every time you go out and use it."
Now, if Bressler could only design a user-friendly VCR . . .Bruce Nussbaum in New York