Hitting plastics on the head

‘We have had the Stone Age and Metal Age and now it’s the plastic age. So we thought it would be good to redesign a traditional implement that could benefit from an engineered polymer,’ says product designer Paul Riley of London consultancy Riley & Reay.

‘We have had the Stone Age and Metal Age and now it’s the plastic age. So we thought it would be good to redesign a traditional implement that could benefit from an engineered polymer,’ says product designer Paul Riley of London consultancy Riley & Reay.

The consultancy had been asked by a plastics manufacturer, the name of which is not disclosed, to think about possible new uses for its materials. An ensuing product brainstorming session threw up the idea of a fresh look at that most enduring of tools, the hammer.

‘The original Stone Age hammer consisted of a stone in a cleft stick – and a millennium later, little had changed,’ says Riley.

Although the hammer head is still steel – ‘steel is still the best material for that job,’ says Riley – introducing acetyl and polyurethane to replace the traditional wooden handle brings several benefits.

Shelf appeal is enhanced by the range of colours and textures available. The poly- urethane dampens the vibrations. And whereas the wood/ steel hammer is exposed to a cumulative weakening of the head/handle joint with every strike, the Riley & Reay design actually increases the strength of the joint as the hammer is used, via teeth on the steel cone.

Another advantage is that most of the hammer’s mass is at the point of impact. Riley claims this leads to ‘more successful guiding’ of the tool.

Aimed at the DIY market, the hammer is seen as being more attractive to the female user and the over-50s who may be put off by the tradesman-like appearance of the traditional tool.

Riley & Reay is now to approach tool manufacturers in the hope of finding a buyer for the K1 DIY hammer and K2 lump hammer designs.

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