Accordion-Shaped Tube Wastes None of Your Toothpaste

As the 20th century came and went away, one thing remained unchanged: the inefficient shape of toothpaste tubes that often caused up to 13% of the content to be wasted. A student at Arizona State University proved that improvements can be made, though.

Seeing in the 1890s that people kept in jars what looked like toothpaste back then, a Connecticut inventor named Washington Wentworth Sheffield thought of designing a lead tube for storing this precious product. Believe it or not, about 120 years later, the design survived without any changes, in the detriment of whoever is paying for the tube of toothpaste, since as much as 13% can go to waste if not rolling it properly. At least that’s what a Consumer Reports test on Colgate and Crest (aka Blend-a-Med in Europe and possibly other parts of the world) tubes revealed. However, 22-year-old interior architecture design major Nicole Pannuzzo developed an origami toothpaste tube capable of squeezing even the last drop.

Pannuzzo explained how she got the idea of designing an accordion-shaped toothpaste tube: “I found this little tiny bottle–it looked like it was for a kids’ toy–and it was a collapsible ketchup bottle. It just goes up and down, accordion style. From that I knew it could be done, somehow. So that’s why I kept going with the origami thing. It was mostly just experimenting.”

Since her design features creases, some believed that these could trap toothpaste as well, but she went on to calm them: “[Commenters] will go off, and I’m like, ‘Calm down, man. It’s a student project, it’s just an experiment.'” In other words, after doing not a thing to change the 120-year-old design of the classic tube we’ve grown tired off, the world is judging Pannuzzo for not coming up with a perfect design.

On the other hand, MIT researchers invented a super-slick coating that prevents liquids from sticking to the walls of whatever container they’re in, and the first thought that crossed everyone’s mind was: “Ketchup!” Still, toothpaste tube could benefit from such a coating as well, and then it wouldn’t matter anymore what shape they have. This doesn’t mean that Pannuzzo’s design shouldn’t be appreciated, as every different approach gets us one step closer to the perfectly designed toothpaste tube.

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