AN ingenious young Kilkenny inventor has come up with a new product already being described as the best thing since Sellotape and Blu-Tack.
Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, a daughter of John and ilis Delahunty, Dunningstown Road, Kilkenny has created, Sugru, a type of silicone, which can be used to glue things together, patch leaky boots, or create a variety of custom-made handles, hooks, and feet for wobbly chair legs.
And people all over the word cannot get enough of it. The first 3,000 packets produced on a pilot marketing scheme were snapped up within hours of going on sale on the internet site: www.sugru.com
It has the appearance of children's modelling clay, which once out of its airtight packet, can be moulded into any shape and fixed onto leather, metal, ceramic, wood and plastic. After about 24 hours it "cures" and will adhere to any substance with the strength of ultra strong glue but it does not become rock hard. Instead, it stays slightly flexible.
Even the name is innovative - Sugru, an Irish word for play (sugradh), is the brainchild of Jane, A former primary school student of St canice’s Co-ed school on the Granges road and the Gael Scoil, Kilkenny, Jane is determined to give old and broken household objects a new lease of life. "I was inspired by the internet and the whole idea of user-generated content. I wanted something that people could make their own and use in their own way,” Jane who is based in London told the Kilkenny People.
"A lot of stuff gets thrown away not just because it is broken but because it has stopped being useful or fashionable. If you can adapt it or hack it that's got to be better than putting it in the bin,” the former pupil of Colaiste Pobal Oasrai said.
The product has already caught the eye of design experts who have tested it out and hailed it as the most exciting product since Sellotape or Blu-Tack.
Guy Robinson, the head of the design consultancy Sprout Design, said: "I think this will really take off. I just hope people realise how great it is. It allows you to customise your own stuff by making it ergonomic. Too much industrial design is not ergonomic enough,” he said.
He added that he had already used it to make custom-made handles for hospital crutches.
The silicone is made from a new product trade marked as Formerol, which is far more flexible than the mouldable epoxy resins on the market, which tend to go rock hard when dry. The material, once cured, is dishwasher proof and heat resistant to 180C (356F). A packet, containing 10 sachets of Sugru, costs 7 sterling.
Jane who is 30-years old was studying product design at the Royal College of Art in London when she realised she wanted to make something that could help people fix, customise, adapt and 'hack' everyday items. "The idea grew before the material existed," she said.
Five years later, the material, Formerol, exists - A new type of silicone invented after Jane worked tirelessly with retired scientists and a silicone expert. She prototyped her design at the RCA graduate exhibition.
Using a couple of small business grants, Sugru was able to go into production last year. Such was its popularity, the planned 1,000 packs sold out in six hours before the company had even launched properly, thanks to a slot on the Daily Telegraph's video series on gadgets.
and the other 2,000 were gone 10 hours later. "It went a bit crazy," Jane said. "That was a heart attack moment, because it was the day before we launched. So we had to shut down the website. Those 3,000 orders went out to 24 countries."
Sugru's initial success has allowed Jane to scale up production. "It's going to be this spring before we can properly supply," she said. "We're scaling by 20 times plus. It's quite mental to think we'll have a full factory."
She now has investors and packaging firms on board but crucially has kept control of the company, the product and the copyright licences. “This only happened when we realised that it was going to be a success,” she added.
Jane believes the material's success lies in its simplicity and originality. "I think it's a really useful thing. It's not a competitor because it's totally different from everything in the market. It's not just for fixing a problem, it's also about improving things, so it's a new mindset about thinking of things,” she said.
and don’t expect ot see her home anytime soon in Kilkenny city. “ I normally get home once every two months but because of the work it will probably be eater at the earliest. What’s the betting of a civic reception in her honour?