I have witnessed clerks struggling to open coin rolls by hand, or by banging them on the counter or the cash register drawer. On many occassions, the coins would fly everywhere.
Design a method to aid opening different coin wrappers in a fast and controlled way when it is time for the clerk to add more coins to their till.
My friend and I. We love to design and make things work better.
I researched online and saw that some devices did exist and many even had patents, but I'd never seen anyone use them. Why not???
I began the research process:
Reasearch revealed the main underlying factor was other devices were simply not convenient and fast enough to bother using. Also, most of the devices weren't cheap. So, this product design needed to primarily focus on the following criteria:
Whilst working on a house demolition project, I was using a pry bar for leverage and the "penny" dropped (pun intended). Maybe, I could use a simple breaker bar to break the roll of coins open by simply bending and stretching the paper to its tearing point. Using my favorite designer easel, the "napkin", I began sketching and doodling and created some good napkin art.
The idea was that with sufficient bending force applied to the top of the roll, the paper on the underside is torn open in a controlled manner.
Once the roll is partially broken open, the cashier removes the roll from the bar and holds the broken coin wrapper over the register drawer and releases the coins into the correct drawer in a controlled manner.
It was necessary to have two holes in the bar to acheive the correct hole clearance for optimal breaking action.
Each hole covered two coin roll sizes:
Small hole - penny and dime.
Larger hole - nickle and quarter rolls.
To achieve optimal breaking conditions, the bar should be perpendicular to the bar hole.
It is simple to use and easy to store at point of use (in cash drawer or on it). In addition, the product consists of one part and is therefore very cheap to manufacture.
It was necessary to have two holes in the bar to achieve the correct hole clearance for optimal breaking action.
The results were promising. It worked well on all coin wrapper sizes (dimes, nickles, quarters and pennies). So, onto best way to make it.
Design for manufacture - Prototype refinement
Injection molding with ribs for structural reinforcement. People didn't like the feel of it.
Next came the idea of a solid plastic bar with a punched hole. Even at 1/4" thick, it bent dramatically when force applied. We considered the possibility of a very thick piece of plastic or a more expensive, stiffer plastic. But, instead we decided to try an aluminum version. People gravitated to the feel and weight of the aluminum bar. They loved the feel of it.
I love naming products I design; it's just part of the fun. This product needed a catchy name to help people remember it. A good user experience and a catchy name would also help create free, good word of mouth advertising.
I played around with a bunch of names and words associated with the action of opening the wrapper.
The final product would be anodized. Anodizing could achieve diffrent colors. Black looked striking.
Field testing of the product was successful and users liked it. It was fast to grab and intuitive to use with little or no training. With the aid of a planned user instruction action graphic on center of bar, it would require no training which was the goal.
It can be stored on the counter near the register, or above the cash drawer for fast access to it.
Due to the low cost of the product and its visibility while in use, it could serve as a promotional tool for local businesses as a pen or calendar might, displaying the business name and logo.
I learned from the research that just solving a problem isn't enough. User experience is an important factor in developing the most elegant design. The graveyard of patented ideas and existing products clearly didn't meet the critical design feature users wanted. Convenience and speed of use at low cost were key design features.