Usually, the point of a teardown is to figure out how something works—to take something complex and try to puzzle out how it works, and see what exciting new things the designers did to make this product special. This isn’t quite that type of teardown. Instead, this time, we’re going the opposite route and seeing what we can learn from something that’s designed to be simple. Something that’s made to be inexpensive and accessible. Something that we bought from an as-seen-on-TV commercial.
In this teardown, we’re taking apart the Robotwist hands-free jar opener. This little robot does exactly what the box says it will, opening almost any jar you place it on top of with the push of a button.
The areas of interest we’ll be looking in to for this $19.99, plus shipping and handling, product teardown will be:
1. Design for usability - How does the Robotwist’s design keep its target users top of mind?
2. Mechanical Design - What makes the Robotwist tick, and why was it made that way?
3. Design for Manufacture - How was the Robotwist built to be functional and affordable?
Simple products are often less exciting than complex, high-tech ones, but we can still learn from them. When the whole system is simple, it’s easy to look at every aspect of it in depth and figure out the reasoning behind each design choice.
Additionally, looking at a simple product that excels at a certain area of design shows that a successful design doesn’t have to be complex. For example, the Robotwist’s exterior does a good job of keeping its target users in mind, without making the design any more complex that it would be otherwise.
Since simple also often means inexpensive, simple products can be good examples of how to properly design a product with cost in mind. The Robotwist uses simplicity in manufacture and assembly to reduce part count and cost, rather than relying on a poor design or cheaper materials.
Perhaps more importantly, the Robotwist’s design doesn’t shy away from complexity where needed, using stronger materials and more involved molded parts in critical areas. The end result is a product that is cheap to buy but doesn’t feel like a piece of junk and is able to do its job well. All this goes to show that the complexity of a product’s design isn’t what makes it interesting, but the quality of the design really matters.
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