no-spill Mighty Mug

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Client: Alfay Designs

Product Website: http://a.co/d/jk9x2Sk

Patents: US8757418B2

Alfay had recently obtained the intellectual property for a cheesy, unsuccessful product that worked fairly well: a mug which resisted unintended tipping & spilling, using a manually-released suction cup in the base. Unfortunately, this suction cup was comically oversized, the release mechanism sometimes felt awkward to use, & the mug itself looked cheap & unattractive.

Re-imagining it as a sleeker, more sophisticated design, Alfay asked Creative to figure out how to realize their new industrial design as an easily-manufactured & assembled product, all while maintaining the functionality of the cup’s central mechanism.


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As with all our projects, the CAD for the new mug design was flexible, robust, & production-ready, ensuring that the factories which received our files could immediately use them for tooling, rather than laboriously reinventing each part in a fully moldable shape.

Encouraged by the quality of our work & how easily it was to manufacture, Alfay asked us to take the lead on reimagining the mug’s mechanism for their new travel mug concept. It needed to fit into a cupholder, which meant eliminating both the handle & the protruding suction cup “skirt,” drastically changing the requirements for the cup’s mechanism while maintaining the same tip-resistant function.


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Product Website: http://a.co/d/19Rj6un

After some experimentation, we found that the large suction cup in the mug’s base maintained a significant internal volume when placed on a surface - this space was essentially wasted, & reducing it allowed us to shrink the suction cup substantially without sacrificing its holding power. This had the added advantage of lowering the cracking pressure for the suction cup’s release mechanism, reducing the travel necessary to release it from the surface.

We had the idea of using body of the mug itself as the “handle,” allowing the user to detach it from the surface by lifting it from anywhere (rather than just by the handle). We were also able to optimize the suction cup mechanism with a thinner wall & essentially no head space whatsoever, shrinking its footprint smaller than the base of the cup itself.

The finished product was sleek, attractive, & functioned exactly as intended…but we felt we could do better.


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We approached Alfay with an idea: rather than the elaborate (& expensive) nested mug assembly necessary for the existing mechanism, what if we could develop a novel apparatus that compacted the entire non-tip function into a “puck,” something that could be mounted on the bottom of any vessel, regardless of shape or size?

We thought that it might be possible to harness a subtle difference in the geometry of a “tipping” vs. a “lifting” mug. Building on this idea would allow us to achieve a robust anti-tipping function in a fraction of the space of the original Mighty Mug mechanism, with much smaller & inexpensive components.

We hacked together a crude prototype to ensure that the idea would work, & were impressed with its performance. We used this geometry to design an injection-moldable “puck” mechanism, with special attention paid to manufacturability & ease of assembly, developing special tools to facilitate the joining of the minimized parts.


 
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The puck is extremely versatile, allowing the client to easily incorporate it into whatever shape or style of vessel their customers might want. It’s currently used in their very successful (& much more attractive) stainless steel travel mug, which has no outward indication of its non-spill mechanism besides a small hint of rubber at its base.

It’s a great example of what Creative can achieve when given the opportunity to solve open-ended design problems in innovative ways.