A family friend begged one of the founders of OH 4 Industries to create a viable wheelchair cup holder. Being in the stadium cup holder business, the founder quickly summed up in his head the cost of all the plastic injection molds that would be needed for the wide variety of wheelchairs and scooters. He decided to take it to his design team before giving up.
It started with gathering data, especially by crash testing the current options. One cup holder was made of cheap plastic and broke easily. Another model attached easily, but once a cup of coffee was placed in it the cup holder fell to the floor (along with the coffee). Most of the available products attached on the side of a wheelchair or scooter, which got caught on doorways. OH 4 Industries realized there was definitely a market, and people deserved a better product.
Throughout the testing, measurements were coming in for the armrests. All seemed to be within an inch difference in width, and another inch and a half in depth. Slowly the team was realizing this project wasn’t only doable, they might be able to cover most makes and models with one product.
This led to a final design and choice of materials. Attached to the armrest was the natural location, much like a movie theater armrest. The cup holder would be made of plastic, but of a flexible source, not the rigid plastic the current models were available in. Achieving a superior grip became the next issue, and everything from heavy duty rubber bands to a plastic zap strap mechanism was discussed. After some market research and consulting a few physical therapists, Velcro straps became the obvious answer, and a simply genius one. Lastly the height variance needed to be dealt with, and after discussing options with a local custom gasket vendor, sticky foam pads could be inserted underneath the cup holder at a relatively low cost.
Testing the prototype was so successful it was rumored to be a universal cup holder. It could be used on wheelchair, scooter, stadium, office chair, and even airline armrests. (The last option discovered after one team member took it on a trip.) The ”Nearly” Universal OH became a reality. Keeping an eye on costs, but also wanting to use recycled materials, a regrind tolerance of 15% was found to be suitable, and partially recycled packaging helped keep the product environmentally friendly.
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OH 4 Industries
We Make a Great Cup Holder
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