Market-led Product Design
 
 
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CLIENT: Gyproc tools, a brand of ARTEX LTD

Project Summary

THE EXISTING EXPERIENCE

A Dryliner cuts and installs plasterboard for a living, and is often paid according to the amount of board they have installed. Their Construction Site Managers are concerned with speed, but also with the safety of their team. 

The traditional way to cut plasterboard is to score on both sides with open blade, then apply a snapping motion to complete the break. This method has potential drawbacks, both in terms of speed and safety.

 

HOW HAS IT CHANGED?

A hand-held, portable device that cuts both sides of the board simultaneously, effectively halving the time taken to complete the task, and making complex shapes much easier. The blades are concealed and relatively dull, so the probability of injury is greatly reduced. 

For enthusiastic DIYers, installing plasterboard becomes a more palatable task, with a tool designed specifically for the job, and reduced skill required to complete it proficiently. 

OUTCOMES

A product that appeals directly to Artex' existing customer base, fulfilling 3 key marketable objectives: speed, safety, and precision. 

Design work included the creation, sourcing and testing of a proprietary blade cartridge, allowing Artex to create ongoing revenue through the supply of refills. This also created potential for more products to be developed around the same cartridge.

The project was completed with the sourcing of manufacturing partners, management of tooling procurement, and testing of initial production samples. 

 
 

Three things the Building Trade wanted to hear: faster, safer and cleaner.

The job of a Dryliner is to cut and accurately install plasterboard, and the speed at which he or she can do this is essential for making a living. In the UK, and many other countries, the level of pay a Dryliner receives is directly correlated to square metre area, or meterage, of plasterboard they have installed in a given time. 

As well as meeting project deadline and completing the job to a high standard, a Dryliner's Site Manager will also be have the added pressure of ensuring the safety of their team. And may even be responsible for ensuring that the Health & Safety record of their employers is upheld. 

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Plasterboard, also known as drywall or Sheetrock, is traditionally cut to size using an open blade: The board is scored on both sides, cutting through the paper layers, before a snapping action is applied to complete the break. Dryliners have this down to a fine art, but are still known to use plasterboard tape to cover imperfections; especially where complex shapes are involved.  

Examining this process onsite, it became clear that if both sides of the board could be scored simultaneously, the job would become quicker and simpler. This was achieved in the Blade Runner using two opposing, rotating blades, magnetically paired to match each other's movements. As one blade scores one side, the other duplicates this score line on the other side. The outcome is a quick and clean cut, and the ability to cut complex shapes with ease.

Working in this way, the time taken for a Dryliner to cut each board is effectively halved and, over the course of a day or week, their meterage rates are greatly improved. This is good news for the Dryliner, but also for the construction company employing them. 

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Apart from increased productivity, another reason for Site Managers to encourage the use of Blade Runner on site is the improvement in safe working practices. The open, fixed blades traditionally used by Dryliners are replaced with small, rotating, and well concealed circular blades; greatly reducing the chances of injury. And since the tool is used by pushing away from the body, rather than drawing towards, this earns it bonus points with Health & Safety workers. 

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The Blade Runner was intentionally designed to appeal to the senses of the Building Trade, but in doing so it also creates new opportunities for Artex with the DIY market. Cutting and installing plasterboard can seem a potentially daunting and somewhat messy task, especially when something other than a straight line is required. But the Blade Runner reduces this scare factor, introducing a tool designed specifically for the job, and reducing the skill or previous experience necessary. 

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For Artex, the Blade Runner represented a new level of market-led innovation, previously unseen in their OEM-based Gyproc Tool brand, and fulfilled some key motivators of the Building Trade, giving them potentially increased scope with their existing customer base.

The creation of the Blade Runner also saw the development of a unique, proprietary blade cartridge and, with it, a potential new stream of revenue. As well as supplying refills, the cartridge gave Artex an opportunity to develop a whole family of products, based around one core disposable. 

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Seeing considerable commercial success within its first year on the market, the Blade Runner went on to win Fearsome a Silver Design Effectiveness Award from the Design Business Association. 

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