Ft. Wright Inventor Looks to Make Opening Hard Plastic, Packages Easier
You know those hard plastic casings that cover new products like power tools or other electronics?
They can be a pain to open.
Actor-writer Larry David shared that pain in one of his send-ups of everyday life on his HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm.
A Northern Kentucky man has spent much time recently working out a solution, and now he believes he has it.
And so do many others.
Robert Behan's creation, which he has branded as FLYK, recently sought crowd-funding through Kickstarter. His $5,000 goal was more than doubled with 374 donors contributing nearly $12,000.
Behan, of Fort Wright, made the pitch this way:
FLYK Products, LLC founder Robert Behan faced package opening frustrations for a long time. He watched his friends and family struggle to open multiple tiers of packaging. Not only did the plastic/cardboard/box battle take away some of the joy and momentum of opening gifts, but it was also frustrating, bothersome, and unsafe. People were reaching for scissors, keys, knives, screwdrivers and more in efforts to get things out. It was in that moment that he started brainstorming an easier, safer, faster way to open packages. He sketched a design, purchased molding clay and created an initial mockup. He recruited help from an engineer friend, and spent the past year working on the final design and prototype.
"About a year and a half ago, I was opening a package that had multiple pieces to it, and I just noticed I was getting multiple tools to open it," Behand told The River City News.
So, without finding a solution, he created one, one that is "easy to handle".
"Hold FLYK in any position without getting hurt. Carry it in your pocket without ripping clothes or piercing skin. Your kids can use it and you can even toss it to a friend without concern for injury. Can you say that for other scissors, box cutters or envelope openers? Probably not," the Kickstarter page boasted. "FLYK features cutting edge, super-heated and hardened long lasting stainless steel blades housed in a design that feels so good in your hands that you may arbitrarily start looking for stuff to open."
To see how it works, click here.
Hard plastic isn't the only target for FLYK. It will also work well on just about anything you need to open, from an envelope to zip ties, to standard boxes.
"I drew up the idea of what I thought it could do," Behand said, "basically sitting down and going through what most of our packages are made of and what is needed to open up each of those packages."
He used modeling clay to start his imagining.
"I wanted to create something to zip through those (packages) quickly without going too far into the box," he said.
But the idea quickly evolved from just those boxes.
"I remember when I was working on this, I purchased a hose and it had zip ties around it. Some scissors can get through those, but I didn't want to puncture the hose and I said, there's another piece that needs to be on there," he said.
The invention didn't happen overnight. Behan created one prototype that he said failed, but while working with an engineer friend with whom he collaborated on a previous project, something clicked.
That engineer had a design pop up on his screen related to a separate project, a massaging device.
"I said, that's the design," Behan told RCN. "He said, are you nuts? You're changing everything."
Behan went back to the drawing board. "That design, for a massaging device, changed the course of FLYK and we were able to include all the parts," he said.
This isn't Behan's first invention rodeo. His Bull's Eye, a modified eye dropper that puts more of the liquid directly into one's eye, gained some serious traction. That's how he met engineer Troy Cooksy, who ultimately collaborated with him on FLYK.
Bull's Eye is currently sidelined and Behan worked odd jobs around town while he looked for his next opportunity. "We ran into some issues with how the eye drop industry profits greatly from the waste that runs down your face," he said. Behan still hopes to revisit Bull's Eye.
For now, the eye is on FLYK.
"I took that failure very hard," Behan recalled of Bull's Eye, "but at the same time, I was able to turn my mental state around and get back and say, look, you're good at this stuff. Don't let this one failure throw you a loop and stop you."
Behan emphasizes that his new project is more than a package opener.
He didn't want to use plastic - to open plastic.
"We went on this quest to find materials," he said. He ended up with a company in Germany that takes the milling of wood, and mixed it with natural resiins to create his biodegradable product.
"Plastic is a huge problem. I didn't want to put another product out there that was going to be just another piece of plastic," he said. He said that FLYK's body is made out of arboblend and that the magnet and steel blades will be recyclable.
When the product ends up in packages of its own, Behan said they will be eco-friendly.
With his Kickstarter funds lined up, Behan will sell the product directly at getflyk.com and also through some other online distribution methods.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher