Chris Curro and Henry Wang, two engineering students at New York’s Cooper Union, thought they could build a better cardboard box. They turned out to be right. Their patent-pending Rapid Packing Container uses a novel folding method, so it requires 15% less cardboard versus existing box designs, and it assembles quickly without packing tape, saving time, money and waste.
“I’m always on the lookout for the little things in life that annoy me,” says Wang. “Those are the things that have the greatest potential to be changed, because they’re achievable.” Curro thought that having to use his keys to rip open tape-encrusted delivery cartons was a small but persistent frustration: “We wanted to create a box people could open without needing any other tools.” That’s why the Rapid Packing Container pops open and lies flat when the recipient presses on a special flap on the top of the box. It’s just as fast to assemble, too, with the user pressing the flat cardboard into a wooden form that folds it into a box in less than a second, and sealing it with pre-applied adhesive instead of tape. In high-volume shipping operations—an Amazon shipping centre, to pick a purely hypothetical example—such time savings save money as well.
The duo used computer modelling, a laser cutter and a lot of cardboard to rapidly iterate through upward of 150 designs over the course of six weeks. They plan to license the design to existing manufacturers, and they say “a number of household names” have expressed interest.
So what’s the next little irritation Curro and Wang think they can fix? “I personally have a bit of an annoyance with scissors,” says Curro. “But I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle that yet.”