If only all industrial designers paid as much attention to ergonomics as this engineer.
Michigan-based Michael Chou is a dad who loves ice cream, and has scooped a lot of it out for his kids. Here's the thing: He likes the ice cream when it's frozen solid, not partially melted, and found that he couldn't effectively get it out of the container using a conventional ice cream scoop.
An aerospace engineer by training, Chou examined the problem and found the standard ice cream scoop was at fault. "Current ice cream scoops are designed in a way that forces you to use weak wrist joints to scoop ice cream," he writes. "When you are scooping ice cream with standard ice cream scoops, you are doing a prying motion. This prying motion puts tremendous amounts of stress on your weak wrist joints. Your brain then tries to save your wrists by not letting you pry very hard—thus making scooping ice cream very difficult."
Using his "engineer's understanding of ergonomic design and mechanical force," Chou hit the drawing board to create a better scoop. Give it up to the man--it took him three years and some 38 prototypes before he perfected his design, and as most of it was worked on after-hours, he calls it the Midnight Scoop.
[With the Midnight Scoop], you're not using the small weak muscles located inside the wrist. Instead, you hold the curved end with the palm of your hand and "push" into the ice cream. This allows you to keep your wrists straight and protected while you use large muscles like your arms and chest—which are significantly stronger than your wrist.
...The handle is also long enough to help you reach all parts of a giant container of ice cream yet narrow enough to fit inside small pint size containers just as well.
...The front scoop section is thin enough to cut through ice cream like butter, and thick enough to last. The base of the scoop design forces ice cream to curl into that appealing ice-cream-advertisement look, every time.
Chou had no intentions of designing a disposable object, and has spec'd the Midnight Scoop to be forged from 6061 aero-space grade aluminum. With a modest funding goal of $17,500, Chou threw the project onto Kickstarter and easily doubled his goal. Here's the pitch vid:
Sure, an ice cream scoop is a humble object, but it's Chou's lifetime guarantee for the object, and overall attitude towards product longevity that really impressed me. "Some companies design their products to last a certain amount of time, and then force you to rebuy the same products over and over again," he says. "That stops here. That's not how a true engineer thinks. And that's not how an engineer would run their business. The midnight scoop is designed perfectly and will last forever."
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very nice work, Michael. Form looks great. ...That said: you just need to switch to gelato, which is softer, easier to scoop, tastes better and - I would argue - higher quality ingredients. Ice cream shops have their freezers set at an ideal temperature to scoop. You went all out on problem that can be resolved by turning down your freezer or waiting 5 minutes for the tub to thaw. And...another personal preference here, but par-melted ice cream tastes better. So you need to let it thaw anyway for taste buds to absorb the flavors instead of being cold-burned from rapid scooping with that spoon. I'm a minimalist designer, don't get me wrong, the object is beautiful, but people who buy ice cream are buying budget, not hand crafted gelato, and likely won't drop serious money on a scoop.
How about this scope from Lunar?
Instead of designing the perfect ice cream scoop, why not spend time finding a better way to extract ice cream. I'm sure a loop of nitinol, a stick, and some batteries would be both cheaper and glide through ice cream more easily than even this Ã¼berscoop. Add silicone, and you can work out an ergonomic shape without much fuss.
Now, don't get me wrong, the project and the process here are impressive. My question is, does it have to be impressive?
Also note that the "aero-space grade aluminum" claim is just marketing blather. There is no such thing. And even if there were, it wouldn't necessarily confer any useful properties for an ice cream scoop.
The natural version will get trashed. The anodized versions could hold up, but for a lifetime? I have my doubts. He doesn't get into the coating type of the white but he does say it will chip if "abused". So again, I have my doubts.
Additionally, aluminum does not retain heat very well which is why it's used in radiative applications--but that's beside the point, and isn't one of the selling points of the scoop so it's irrelevant. The creator is trying to sell the fact that he can scoop hard ice cream not ice cream that's melted by the scoop.
If the creator wanted to make a scoop that would last a "lifetime," he should have used stainless steel or titanium (on the extreme end). Anodized aluminum coatings are protective but will not last a lifetime under abrasive use, which is experienced during the act of scooping hard frozen ice cream--and if you aren't scooping this kind of ice cream, you probably don't need one of these fancy scoops to begin with...
38$ for a tool you shouldn't have to replace in your lifetime and that can be passed down to your kid? Seems honest to me. Then again maybe you'd scoff at a 300$ chef knife...