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Flocap - Open and drink without removing the cap

Drink cans integrated ring pulls. Drink bottles can now integrate the bottle cap.

Photo of Matt Jones
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Flocap integrates the bottle cap into the drinking experience. Twist the cap up and drink, twist it back to close. A disc valve keeps the contents watertight when closed, and rotates freely to allow the liquid out when opened.


The problem

The bottle cap provides a seal for drinks with the option to open and reclose the bottle at any time. The problem being the cap can be left off the bottle and on its own the cap is hard to capture and recycle due to its size. The solution required is a standardised bottle cap that can remain secured to the bottle but not impede the ability to open and reclose.


Solutions - with a problem

Tethered Cap - Some designs look to use a tethered cap that whilst achieves the same goal, creates an experience where the cap can get in the way of drinking or pouring from the bottle; Requiring the consumer to angle or hold the cap out of the way.

Sports Cap - As a large quantity of these bottle caps are used on fizzy drinks, a solution that restricts the size of the hole, such as a sports cap (pull/push), would create an increase in bubbles. This is likely due to the amount of air and liquid required to pass one another as the fizzy liquid is poured, and certainly would not work for larger fizzy drinks bottles.

Flip Cap - A flip cap solution (much like that considered for my other contributions: Cuppuccino and PopLock) would create a challenge in keeping the fizzy gasses sealed in, unless there was an added seal - like that in a tear off plastic pull tab or tear off lid liner, both creating unnecessary waste. The cap would also tend to get in the way.

Second-use Cap - More fun solutions that create a second purpose for the cap is certainly to be applauded. However such caps are likely to increase the cost of manufacture and may never make it to mainstream use.


The Flocap solution

Taking onboard these considerations, I ended up considering a simple valve that freely turns when the cap is twisted open, and a sufficient seal when twisted closed.

After a number of sketches, considering different ways of incorporating a valve, I finally landed upon a design that incorporates a cap with an opening (cap hole) and a freely spinning disc (valve).

The cap' hole is slightly smaller than the diameter of the disc valve. The disc valve is inserted into the cap, where the centre arms of the valve clip in and slide freely up and down ridges manufactured in the cap.

When the bottle cap is securely closed, the disc valve is unable to spin. As the cap is opened, the valve can spin... but only to the height of the cap. Opening partially allows for stemming the flow of liquid being poured. When the cap is twisted to its maximum height the valve can open fully, the cap remains affixed to the bottle.

With the cap open to its maximum height, a straw can easily be inserted if so desired. Twisting the cap slightly (to close) will help hold the straw in place.

The cap is tethered to the ring-seal (that typically stays with the bottle). Ideally the bottle screw pattern links to the Flocap design and prevents the cap from being completely unscrewed from the top of the bottle screw, the cap can only be untwisted to a certain height. Without such adaptations the cap remains practical but may cause dripping (not a tight enough seal); the cap may also be removed (complete with valve), however the cap remains tethered which may get in the way.


The consumer can pour or drink from the bottle without the valve getting in the way - freely allowing the drink to flow past. As the cap is reclosed, the disc valve is again pushed back to a position that it seals the bottle.


Manufacturing considerations

In manufacturing the caps, the valve needs inserting - adding to the process. However, it is anticipated (requires testing) that once inserted, the Flocap can be applied to the bottle in the same manner as they are today. There is an optional requirement to add a small amount of adhesive to the underside of the cap so that the valve remains affixed to the top during bottling. This will require the consumer to push down the valve when they first open their drink in order to break the adhesive seal and free-up the valve. This addition provides further insurance that there has been no tampering with the bottle or its contents.


Key features of the Flocap

  • Cap remains affixed to the bottle making it easier for recycling
  • Relatively similar amount of plastic consumed
  • Minor modifications to the bottle (preferable yet optional)
  • Potential to attach the cap with no retooling (to be tested)
  • Cap cannot be removed from the bottle (without force)
  • Branding opportunity to have the valve a different colour to the cap
  • Promotional codes or branding messages can be concealed on the underside of the valve
  • Straws can be inserted and the cap tightened slightly to prevent straw from easily being removed (of floating out as is so common with fizzy drinks).


(c) Copyright 2017 Matt Jones matt@cranialscratch.com UK - Intellectual property rights reserved. All rights reserved.

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

With the cap tethered to the bottle, the cap can no longer be separated (without force), ensuring that the cap and bottle are disposed of together.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

This concept supports use case 2 - bottle caps and tear offs. Ensuring that the cap remains secured to the bottle.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

Initially, I will look to create a prototype to ensure the concept works. Once done, I suspect I will need to work with drinks manufacturers to understand any reservations they may have to such a change - especially as this change will require a change to the bottle itself (however minor), and introduce a new step to the bottling process. The concept may be best sold to drinks manufacturers as a licence to the use of intellectual property rights over attempting to alter the supply chain.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

The access to mentors, contacts and support will be invaluable to being to take ideas further than proof of concept. This alone I feel would alleviate the financial burden of innovation, and enable me to thoroughly test, improve and ultimately mass produce or develop partnerships for production of one of a number of packaging concepts that I have developed over the years, and stalled due to finances and access to resources.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Whilst I have considered this problem previously, it wasn't until this competition until I wrestled with the problem. Admittedly my first idea was similar to many other contributions to this challenge. I'd considered how the cap being tethered would create a nuisance when trying to drink or pour with the cap hanging in the way, so decided to explore further.

Tell us about your work experience

My background has led me through design, marketing, user research, customer experience, and business strategy and innovation - primarily for digital products, with an earlier career in print.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

This concept is contributed as a personal project. I am otherwise a freelance digital product innovation consultant, operating under Uservox Limited.

23 comments

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Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Matt!

This is the link to Flocap - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/circular-design/refinement/flocap-fixed-bottle-cap-with-free-flow-valve

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hi Kate Rushton 

Unfortunately the clock has run out on me achieving the requirements in time. I've managed to put together the requirements for Cuppuccino - temporary reusable coffee cup . The TypeForm that came through today was a godsend. Perhaps in future challenges, this is the way to go, or a clearer comms about accessing the additional questions in time.

Fingers crossed for Cuppuccino. I'm sad I couldn't have hit the timeline for FloCap and PushPop. :/

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Matt!

Welcome to refinement!

What would the manufacturing process be for this cap?

It would be great to see an early stage prototype. Is it possible for you to produce a prototype that can be used to test the convenience of drinking and pouring from a bottle with this cap design?

Also, how much additional material would this cap use? How would its price point compare to a conventional cap?

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me by tagging me here (@ followed by my name) or send me an email - krushton@ideo.com

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hi Kate Rushton ,

Great questions. My mentor, Jan Leyssens explored these questions with me too. We identified that the ideal solution would be to avoid inserts in the mould, but not impossible. We also explored how the valve would first breakaway from the rest of the cap so as to freely move. We both did not see much in the way of additional plastic, however, Jan did suggest that if the valve was delivered in it's 'sealed' state for bottling and the user need only push down on it to initiate the valve's free movement, would be preferable. This would ensure that there would be no changes / potential issues at the bottling stage.

Prototypes are my bane at the minute, due to the sizes, stresses, costs and time involved. I need access to a printer where I can quickly output multiple tweaks before reaching the optimum design.

Can we keep the challenge going for a few more months (only joking). I think I've hit on a few good concepts and know exactly what I need to do next. Now to find the cash. Perhaps crowd-funding.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Matt!

There are 7 days left in the refinement phase.

If there is key information in the comments on your idea submission, I recommend that you move them to the main body of your idea submission before the cut-off time.

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Spam
Photo of Christel Tardif
Team

Hey Matt Jones one question: How Might you deal with the hygienic issue? Putting your lips directly on the cap might be a problem for a lot of people, unless manufacturers add a single use plastic protection...

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hi Christel Tardif - Sorry for the late reply. I would anticipate the same hygienic issues and response to that of canned soft drinks. There is the option to cover the lid, like that used by canned San Pellegrino sparking juice drinks, but suspect it unnecessary.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

To have one, but two products in the Refinement stage is a true honor. Thank you.

Spam
Photo of Troy Gardner
Team

very cool Matt though probably needs a better internal spring action/shape to open/close appropriately,, if single material, this would have material fatique so probably not infinite reuse but don't think you're after that anyway. I wonder how well say sealed at the factory, under normal distribution/heat/cold pressures the springyness necessary for the check valve action would work.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hi again Troy Gardner . Yeah. Definitely not a solution for infinite reuse. Aimed squarely at the disposable soft drink bottle market. I anticipate that the tether part of the cap would be contracted when first screwed into place, as would the valve. Only on opening would the tether be prised apart, and the valve may require pressing down before it's released and freely able to spin.

Spam
Photo of Brenda
Team

Thank you Matt. I think your design for the bottle cap that stays on is really good and if it is long enough to come off top of the bottle when using the bottle I could see that work very well.
In terms of difference in terms of different types of plastic and their recycling I dont think its a problem at all. Currently the ring of a traditional cap remains on the bottle too and is at some stage somehow been taken off in the recycling plant. Similar would need to happen to bottles in the fixed style caps that we are proposing. Best regards, BB

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Cheers Brenda. I do think there is room for more than one solution - in particular as I do believe it will take time for bottlers to be convinced to make a change. I'm really pushing the boat out now, and have designed a completely (off the wall) capless bottle. The closing mechanism is built into the bottle blank. Take a look and let me know what you think: PushPop Bottle - Reimagining disposable soda bottles and their closing mechanisms 

Spam
Photo of Brenda
Team

That is great Matt, well done! Would it work for fizzy drinks? A lot of pressure builds up in the bottle especially when the initial seal is broken .... Best, BB

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

I believe so. I'll upload the draft model once done.

Spam
Photo of Brenda
Team

That is great Matt, well done! Would it work for fizzy drinks? A lot of pressure builds up in the bottle especially when the initial seal is broken .... Best, BB

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

I believe so. The pressure might even improve the seal. Busy modelling at the minute and feeling quite optimistic.

Spam
Photo of Helena
Team

Great engineering thinking Matt, but it's worth investigating the materials water bottles are made off. Usually the body is made of PET and the cap HDPE. So the issue of recycling the caps is not so much one of keeping the caps on the bottle at all times, but when consumers recycle the bottles and caps, how the caps get lost in the system. Maybe this will help you develop your idea.
Helena

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

That's a great challenge Helena! Thank you.
I've been racking my brains trying to think of how to completely eliminate the need for a cap. A fully integrated design from one piece of plastic - such as the idea for Cuppuccino - Temporary reusable coffee cup with integrated lid and sleeve. [Idea Stage] 
This would obviously mean a big rethink for bottling plants, but, could be one with a massive saving to the plant and to the environment.
Great challenge to think through.

Spam
Photo of Michael Maguire
Team

It would be delightful if FloCap's design would past muster with the manufacturing community but I have prototyped and submitted to the industry no less than 6 version of cap utilizing the principals of your design and all were rejected. The only solution that has been or will be accepted is one that will provide a seamless transition to manufacturing with no line changes. Price is also a major factor and it would be far too expensive to manufacture a cap with these mechanical features.

On a side note, after opening, ThisCap does not interfere with one's ability to drink or pour from the bottle and ThisCap is already available and commercially in use and is well accepted by the manufacturer and end consumer. It is a solution that we can all stand behind to achieve our goal of protecting earth's wildlife habitat.

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hi Michael,

I had anticipated some resistance. It is good to learn from you the extent of the challenge. Typical of all successful businesses: "if it ain't broke - don't fix it." Therefore any secondary benefit (like saving the environment) has to have a significant business benefit to encourage anyone to want to do it.

I would be fascinated to learn of your other 6 cap designs.

Where can I get my hands on a ThisCap capped bottle?

In my own mock-ups of a tethered cap, I have found it to be 'in the way'. Probably as the mock-up swivels round to underneath the spout as I pour; and pressing uncomfortably against my face when drinking from the spout. How did you manage to address these challenges with ThisCap?

Whilst I'm aware that Flocap needs to be thoroughly worked through to iron out the kinks. The intention is to find a solution that allows the cap to remain in place whilst the consumer drinks or pours through it. I also have the goal that it should not change the bottling process. The challenge will however be on trying to get the cap manufactured and assembled at a competitive price. With your experience, these feel like all good challenges that I would love to debate with you.

I'm almost certain that any change that links towards some positive environmental impact would be welcomed. I'm also not naive enough to think that my idea would be the only one considered, and would only be ecstatic if it was considered and even proud to know that my idea inspired someone else with the success of their own idea.

Thank you for the challenge.

Best wishes,
Matt

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Matt,

It is great to see all your ideas flowing to the challenge. Do you have a preference for one over the others or are you waiting to see what resonates most with the community?

I noticed that you are inspired by ThisCap . How do they compare and contrast?

Spam
Photo of Matt Jones
Team

Hey Kate,

Great pun ;) (ideas flowing...)

Whilst Cuppuccino is the one that resonates best with me, the other designs are a part of the exercise for me. I can carry the same learning and principles across in my thinking to support a number of ideas. I anticipate that I would look to focus on the one - and probably the one that resonates most with the community - and once sufficient progress is made, look to diversify with the others.

I would put them all under one banner - but feel that this would make it harder for the community to give feedback, and limit my chances of progressing in the challenge. I would welcome your recommendations on how to best position my ideas. As well as info on how to achieve 'featured contribution' status ;)

@ThisCap has the similarity of tethering the cap to the bottle, but as per the section I've written on 'Solutions - with a problem':

"Tethered Cap - Some designs look to use a tethered cap that whilst achieves the same goal, creates an experience where the cap can get in the way of drinking or pouring from the bottle; Requiring the consumer to angle or hold the cap out of the way."

Flocap allows the consumer to drink/pour through the lid, rather than have to remove and move aside to drink/pour.

Best wishes,
Matt

Spam
Photo of Michael Maguire
Team

It would be delightful if FloCap design would past muster with the manufacturing community but I have prototyped and submitted to the industry no less than 6 version of cap utilizing the principals of your design and all were rejected. The only solution that has been or will be accepted is one that will provide a seamless transition to manufacturing with no line changes. Price is also a major factor and it would be far too expensive to manufacture a cap with these mechanical features.

On a side note, after opening, ThisCap does not interfere with one's ability to drink or pour from the bottle and ThisCap is already available and commercially in use and is well accepted by the manufacturer and end consumer. It is a solution that we can all stand behind to achieve our goal of protecting earth's wildlife habitat.