About this project
This project is the creation of a unique, 100% American made, stainless steel multi-tool bottle opener that also functions as a box opener, pry bar, and keychain. We took the twist-off bottle opener that has been around since at least the 1960's (the bottle cap was invented in the 1890's) and improved on it with our unique, copyrighted design. We hope you like it!
Critter Cutters are manufactured in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Raw stainless steel is sourced from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvannia. High-tech blue rainbow nitride coatings are done in California and High-tech QPQ coatings are done in Houston. Learn more at www.CritterCutter.com , the website we created for this project.
All the research, development and prototyping has been completed prior to launching on Kickstarter. The tooling is also finished and has been tested with a very small production run (see pictures of test run samples), we just need to fund the 1st production run and specialty coatings.
Read what Popular Mechanics says about the Critter Cutter:
BlackOut QPQ Coating
The cosmetically appealing blackened finish is accomplished using a high-tech QPQ (Quench-Polish-Quench) coating. QPQ is a deposition process that provides distortion-free dimensional stability (important to us because we have tight tolerances on the twist-off bottle opener). QPQ also hardens the surface of the part, up to three times the strength of carbon steel.
QPQ coatings are popular in both the oil & gas industry and the gun industry because the coating gives steel superior wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and improved fatigue strength. The Critter Cutter might not have the Picatinny railing, screwdrivers, wrenches and other accessories necessary to make it a proper tactical tool but this is as tactical a finish as you can get!
Blue Rainbow Critter Cutter
This Critter Cutter loves attention. The blue rainbow nitride finish is accomplished using the PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) process. The gold color you see on the end of quality drill bits is an example of a finish using PVD. That finish actually makes the tool steel used in drill bits even more wear-resistant! Coloring stainless steel has been a real challenge for us because it does not anodize like aluminum or titanium and, well, it is stainless! We love the results of the PVD process.
The Critter Cutter is constructed from a single piece of solid stainless steel, very thick at 0.21 inches (the same thickness as an Apple iPod Nano ). Because of its strength, stainless steel is more expensive to work with than aluminum, and harder on the tooling. However, stainless steel makes the product stronger and sturdier – the pry bar/box cutter nose won’t bend and the teeth of the twist-off bottle opener won't wear out like aluminum. Stainless steel is also good in wet environments (think ice, coolers and fishing).
Along with the choice of material, ergonomics was a major consideration in our design. We went through many design iterations using wood prototypes to get just the right thickness, angles and dimension so it feels comfortable in your hand and comfortable during use. It fits nicely in all hand sizes.
See the picture of Katelyn holding a Critter Cutter? It wouldn't be as cute if she were holding one of those flimsy, plastic box cutters with a retractable razor blade! The box cutter edge is tapered but blunt enough that it can be carried in your pocket with keys. That was a compromise we made: it's not sharp enough for the fiber-reinforced tape or the plastic bands but it works fine for regular packing tape, doesn't slice up what's in the box and you can carry it in your pocket.
Functionality was another important consideration. The Critter Cutter™ is a multi-tasker.
There is a church key bottle opener on one end and a twist-off bottle opener on the other. The eye serves as a hole for a lanyard or key chain. The nose functions as a box-cutter blade or pry-bar.
We conducted live testing in a variety of environments before approving the Critter Cutter design.
The unique shape of the Critter Cutter™ provides leverage to handle stubborn bottles and boxes with minimal effort. The Critter Cutter™ is curved just right – providing a comfortable grip, whether you are twisting, cutting or opening.
·Minimalist, Artistic Flair
We took somewhat of a minimalist approach: everything in the design is functional (even the eye and mouth serve functions) and we used one solid piece with no moving parts.Aesthetically we felt minimalist did not have to mean boring or ordinary, so we gave it an artistic “critter” flair. One side has the words “Critter Cutter” and “Made in USA” while the other side has a solid smooth surface. Another aesthetic yet functional element is the jimping (the notches) along the back of the Critter Cutter™. Jimping is a decorative technique used by custom knife makers which also serves the purpose of adding grip to an otherwise smooth steel surface, usually a handle. A better grip comes in handy since Critter Cutters enjoy the icy, wet environment of a cooler - and also like going on fishing trips.
Why design it in the first place???
I wish I had a good story about how we came up with the Critter Cutter. A nice story about how we were sitting around sipping tea, philosophizing and brainstorming different ways to make the world a better place when the idea popped into all of our heads at the same time, that's just not what happened.
A while back we went with 6 kids and their Uncle Thomas on what was supposed to be a fun family camping trip. To be fair it was fun … for Uncle Thomas and the kids. For me it started going downhill when Uncle Thomas used the bottle opener as a pry bar and broke it. It was one of those aluminum souvenir/promotional-type openers from Asia, I don’t think it was actually meant to open bottles and it certainly wasn’t designed for Uncle Thomas to use as a pry-bar.
We decided that next time we needed to bring one of the stronger sheet metal openers from the store, not an aluminum souvenir/promotional one but we wanted one that would fit nicely in the pocket. The only one we could think of that wasn’t a bulky one attached to a wine bottle opener was the old-fashioned sheet metal one my Grandma had that featured a can opener on one end and a church key on the other. We started discussing the need for a strong, reliable opener that could also work for twist off tops, too. We have kids and kids’ soda bottles all have twist-off tops.
Uncle Thomas told me I should design one since I was all “artsy”. I started out as an art major in College but got tired of drawing hairy, naked teaching assistants and bowls of fruit (not in the same sketch) so I “went over to the dark side” and changed my major to business. I immediately told Thomas he should be the one to make one since he’s in manufacturing.He started out as an Architect major but regularly changed his major in an almost“Russian Roulette” way – until he accidentally completed all of the courses for a degree in Finance then went into manufacturing - go figure. Then we both decided Karen should do it since she’s the smart one. In the end it was a very collaborative effort with all three of us working together to make the Critter Cutter. With finished prototypes we launched www.crittercutter.com in May 2012 (why the delay till production? Two reasons: 1. We didn't have help & didn't know about kickstarter! 2. We didn't want to make delivery promises with only a prototype.).
· What funding will be used for
Funding will be used to pay for a full production run including the bulk purchase of raw material (stainless steel) and to fund specialty PVD and QPQ coatings. Both production and finishing are more cost effective when done in large batches.
Our primary reasons are probably what you would expect. Not surprisingly we need funds to complete a costly project. Also, we love the way kickstarter allows the "little guy" like us to get funding for a little project without having to go the traditional route.
Risks and challenges
For this project the biggest risk involved delays associated with design and tooling. A challenge that presented itself early in the project was the rapid increase in manufacturing demand as the economy heated up in the Dallas area at the end of last year. We addressed this by adjusting our timeline based on the most recent updates provided by the companies partnering with us to make the Critter Cutter. The introduction of the Critter Cutter on Kickstarter was delayed (design work and prototyping had been finished in early 2012 and we launched crittercutter.com in May 2012) so backers would not be stuck with a missed deadline.
With tooling finished and tested, future delays are unlikely and our main challenge will probably be packing and shipping.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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