Instructables

Holy Grail Project - Re-Usable Collapsible Cup from Sustainable Materials

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In brief... A 'Re-Design' project - How to make your own fold-down, re-usable cup that collapses from 16cm high down to 2cm, can fit in a pocket or clip onto a belt, holds hot beverages without burning your hand and is made almost entirely from sustainable, used materials.

I'm a third year year industrial design/mech eng student studying in Australia (fun :-) ), and for a recent assignment, we familiarised ourselves with the movement known as redesign - a collaboration of product designers who endeavor to take used components/materials, and make new products from them in a sustainable way (http://www.redesigndesign.org/ is a main website if you're interested).

My personal project, therefore, was to prevent the purchase of plastic P.E.T water bottles by devising a cup that was convenient and portable to carry around and use every day (after all, in many places, the health standards are higher for tapwater than bottled). Moreover, it had to be long lasting, easy to clean, recyclable, and able to hold the hot uni-cafe coffee I inevitably need, after staying awake all night working on things like, well, this.

The result is a cup that can hold more than a can of soft-drink when full, yet is about 2cm thick when flattened, and fits easily in a pocket (it can also be looped securely onto a belt). The shape does not transmit heat to the hand easily, and best of all; it's made mostly from the polypropylene covers of used folders where the spine had broken. I write this instructable in the hopes that others may also manufacture one, and I intend, with time, to refine this project further.
 
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mgray21 month ago
I am going to try amd make one of these this weekend. It would be PERFECT for a rinse cup to use with watercolor painting while "out in the field." Leeching would not matter one bit.
Has potential...but I am still iffy about the hot-stuff and it might leech stuff out of the plastic. and the integrity of the seam.
 Just to say, using this pattern exactly will make a 7 sided cup, which is too hard to fold and make a top for. I took off one row from my template so I end up with a six sided cup. Anyways, great instructable. 
 also, taking two of these and taping them together, could make a longer cup.
 
killerkorn6 years ago
and what if it breaks youd get soaked ...just saying but i like it
that's what she said...
recycle #5 polypropylene is not a foodsafe material. Better than PET? Yes. Good for you? No. Try this link for more information;
http://www.hpakids.org/holistic-health/articles/108/1/Plastic-Water-Bottles

That said, I am really impressed with your design. Good work!
lynnekz5 years ago
So where can I buy one? I'm not very handy/crafty/mechanically inclined and would never be able to make this myself but it is such a neat idea and I have been looking for a collapsible cup to carry in my purse.
Daniel Treacy (author)  lynnekz5 years ago
Unfortunately, as of yet, this is just a concept, unless home made. I do have ideas for a production version, but I'm afraid that it will be some time before I can put together a fully developed package and maybe approach someone to make them. But my thanks - you've reminded me to get back onto it, and it's always encouraging to know there would be a market.
In the meantime, I would perhaps recommend the orikaso fold-flat cup (http://www.goldstockssportinggoods.com/product/orikaso-fold-flat-cup-406.cfm) which is a really clever bit of design. However, as you can see, it is more tailored for camping - the problems I tried to solve are a little different - eg. compactness and watertightness when flattened.
naweedshams5 years ago
Great product daniel. We thought of this idea too not long ago. But havent thought of which material to use to prevent heat burning the hands. I think you deserve the appreciation for your inventions. We're planning to start manufacture within the coming months, we would be happy to share the royalties if you contribute further ideas to the product. You may contact me directly at naweedshams@hotmail.co.uk All the best Naweed.
Daniel Treacy (author)  naweedshams5 years ago
Hi Naweed, I'm very grateful for your interest in my design, and pleased that you have contacted me regarding it. I would certainly be keen to be involved with your product and it's manufacturing, as I have given a fair deal of thought to some of the issues inherent in this cup's design, use, and production. I would appreciate any further information as to the nature of your enterprise, and if possible, I would love to see what inspired your project and what stage it is currently at. I look forward to discussing this further with you, regards, Daniel Treacy
Hi Daniel, Great design i was wondering if you had progressed any further on this project. I would like to have a chat with you in regards to sampling a few of these re-usable collapsible cups and also discuss my background and why im intersted in this particular project. contact me at: businessbistro@yahoo.co.uk. many thanks Josh
tsgreenwood5 years ago
This looks like a great idea. Do you have any ideas for a simple way to personalize it with a logo or something, such that it would not affect the structure or the integrity of the cup?
Daniel Treacy (author)  tsgreenwood5 years ago
Though it's not shown on this original prototype, I intended that a logo could be done as an embossed text or symbol on the top of the cap, so it could be customized as easily as changing the 3D Printer file. Alternatively, having a logo along the strap would also have no effect on the folding ability, and would be larger.
tsgreenwood5 years ago
http://www2.eng.cam.ac.uk/~sdg/dstruct/cylinders.html is no longer a viable link. Could you provide a fresh one by any chance? Thanks!
PReDiToR6 years ago
If you never cut towards yourself, you'll never cut yourself. An age old adage.
looks like an emergency tankard for Germany but then we need an emergency pipe for holland
goobyalus6 years ago
First of all, that is AWESOME! I've got a few questions though-How durable are the creases, especially the ones you welded? Will they withstand repeated bending and temperature changes? And how hard is it to clean? If I can find an old folder I'll try to make one, but I think I'll make one out of paper either way just cause it looks cool.
Daniel Treacy (author)  goobyalus6 years ago
Thanks! The crease durability is amazing - I did a final year unit on material and manufacturing this semester where we did a fair bit on PP and living hinges, which gave me the idea. The proof is in the fact that my housemates opened and closed the thing almost continuously for three days and none of the folds split - except the welded seam :-(. It really depends on how neat you do it as to how long it lasts. I'm working hard on fixing this flaw at the moment. The temperature is no problem - PP doesn't even melt until 170 degrees Celcius, and it has a waxy, hygenic surface that's almost completely resistant to solvents, and is therefore pretty easy to clean, especially if you fill it up and open and close it a few times. Oh, and definitely try out a paper one - I had way more fun just making my prototypes out of paper, and they look even better than plastic. Good luck, and if there's any clarification you need, don't hesitate to ask.
I can't find a PP folder anywhere so I guess I'll have to go buy one. So much for recycling. Anyway, a paper thing I made inspired by this is here: http://jaslab.deviantart.com/art/Not-so-Cylinder-89730228
Thanks for the awesome instructable!
DarkStar8516 years ago
Why not simply use one of those sack things they have for baby bottles? they collapse as their used. But instead of using the "nipple tip," you could attach a straw :D
Yeah, they collapse as the milk, or other fluid, leaves the bottle. So the baby's don't have to suck too hard to get it out.
sack thingie for baby bottles?
Daniel Treacy (author)  DarkStar8516 years ago
Very good point, and many of my early concepts were closer to bottles or sacks - one of them even did use a variable sized straw hole. I didn't actually say, but my design brief, however, was specifically to make its use as similar to an ordinary cup as possible, to fill and to drink out of, which is why I ran with this idea. I don't know whether you could realistically ask a cafe to fill a sack with coffee, or whether it would be pleasant to drink out of a straw. I should probably note also that while the plastic is thin, and looks pretty flexible, the final product is remarkably stiff like a regular cup - I suppose it's the shape. The fold lines actually deform slightly as you open it, so it 'locks' into the extended position.
well done.
this is a great idea and would work well when camping
yeah my worry is spills. ugh I would love to see this is a variety of colors, clear white just gives me chills. I love it! wonderful idea, and I love how it is shape into a hexagon.
O_O seems a lot of things give you chills :p Your right about the spills though, I cant imagine this is very sturdy... :P
Kaiven6 years ago
sweet. sweet. sweet. gotta make this XD
Cool beginning, but where's the rest of it?
Daniel Treacy (author)  fungus amungus6 years ago
Sorry about that - my first instructable. Apparently 'preview', and 'save and preview' perform slightly different functions - the former resulted in several minutes of frustrated head-against-wall banging. I did it again though, so the full version is now up.
Ah, cool, there it is. Great job!
rimar20006 years ago
Awesome!
i was gona ask the same as fungus looks like a cool concept, and i see where your going but a plan of where to bend is needed