On one of our recent reddit digs, we came across an interesting post thread involving some hot design debate. The object in question was a concept design coming from Quirky Inc dating a few years back that was never put into production. The product concept is a new rendition of the ice cube tray that appears to solve the problem of getting ice cubes out of their tray.
The design is seemingly flawless: consisting of a silicone skeleton, the design simply allows the user to fill up the tube, seal the case with the silicone tray/rubber gasket, fit in the freezer and voila! Flex the tray and out comes your ice.
So how come this supposedly brilliant concept was never brought to market? Well, as designers know very well, you can't trust a product simply by the visuals—you must dig into the details. And whether or not the redditors in this feed were designers, they certainly had several valid concerns regarding material and form considerations.
One concern brought up by a redditor with the username truh: "I think the design would be pretty neat if it wasn't for problems like ice expansion or ice sticking to the tube. With ice cube trays you have to be careful not to splash water around and make sure to put them on a flat surface."
In response to this comment, redditor Dermaseal further complicated the matter with some stats:
"Yes. Typically heating will expand things and cold will cause then to contract... However, (From the internet...) 'water is one of the few exceptions to this behavior. When liquid water is cooled, it contracts like one would expect until a temperature of approximately 4 degrees Celsius is reached. After that, it expands slightly until it reaches the freezing point, and then when it freezes it expands by approximately 9%.'"
Yet another redditor later brought up how the design would fail as soon as you try to open the frozen tray and the ice immediately sticks to the plastic, and in response one redditor in response asked, "why not make it hydrophobic?" This question prompted other readers to contest that incorporating this material is a much harder task than it may seem. All valid concerns, it's easy to see the issues that may arise with reinventing a product that initially seems so simple to rejigger.
So looking at these images, what would you say doomed this "Ice Cube Tube" from being put into production? How might you tweak the form, material, tolerances or functionality of this in order to make it work?
We want to get the discussion going below, so send us your ideas! Thoughts and sketches are equally welcome.
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The real design questions that should be asked at this time in the world are not "if" we can design something better but "why" should we design it in the first place. Lots more bigger problems to be focused on now than how to get ice out of the tray. Theres ice despensors for that.
Wonder if you tapered it and used a silicone sleeve like Juan suggested. Make the inner wand a bit more flexible.
Oh yeah. This looks a lot like what Carl was suggesting as well.
Can we just submerge it to a hot water for few seconds, then its will surely loosen the ice a little and it will be an easy pop :) Btw, all the designs suggestion are awesome, loving the idea of creative people sharing ideas :)
Forgetting the ice sticking problem and the leakage at the moment, could the silicone feature a collapsible hollow section running, say, along the top or through the core to alleviate the ice expansion, while avoiding 'undercuts' to stop the ice trapping itself.
I am thinking it would have problem holding water in the tube in a horizontal position after repeated use.
Good to know, all designers should pack it in then, China has it covered! ;)
I think it could have worked if the outer was silicone and the shape tuned. But also made me think maybe an auger system could be interesting. Twist to release the ice. The above sketch would rely on the the user only filling to half way, but building on this idea... if divisions were put in the silicone outer dividing it into quarters along the length (the auger running through tight gaps), this would also force the individual pieces (quarter circles) to drive out. The lid would need to be separate from the auger drive in this case. Not really sure this is going to benefit the world though.
Just make a regular ice tray out of silicone. It'll be flexible, making it easy to push the ice cube out of its cup, and it'll be open to the air allowing expansion.
"So looking at these images, what would you say doomed this "Ice Cube Tube" from being put into production?"
What if it was just a silicone tube with a silicone spacer in the middle for a space. You fill it, plug it, freeze it, then take it out, crack it and pour ice chunks out.
If the spacer was connected to the lid, and it had a flat on the bottom it would facilitate the ice removal.
I think one could solve the expansion problem by also making the sleeve out of silicone. It might make the sealing between the inner section and outer section difficult, though.
You could have a silicone inner bladder to the rigid outer tube so the structure of the bottle is retained, but water allowed to expand into ice. 9% Isn't a huge amount to account for but you'd have to watch in which planes the expansion happened.