Heinz Ketchup Cap
Heinz ships roughly a billion squeeze bottles every year. Heinz says it has put 185,000 hours and 45 prototypes into reinventing its squeeze bottle cap to improve recyclability. Heinz’s reasoning is understandable. Looking at the existing design with an industrial CT scanner, we see that it’s a complex assembly of multiple plastic materials, making recycling difficult.
But the lack of recyclability doesn’t take away from the brilliance of this cap’s design. In the early 1990s, Paul Brown revolutionized the condiment world by inventing a squeeze-bottle cap that could be stored upside-down without leaking. His company, Liquid Molding Systems, created 111 prototypes before finding exactly the right design, which it quickly licensed to NASA, Gerber, and of course Heinz.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is dense, making it easy to isolate it with our CT scanner. When we peel away the softer plastics in the cap, we see a floating ring in the center. What looks like a single-part cap turns out to be a complex three-part, three-material design.
The red blends into yellow area showing the perfect engagement between bottle threads and cap threads. Stiffener ribs provide a broad, stable base for the bottle to sit on while keeping the cap rigid enough to snap closed reliably. A flexure joining the cap lid to the main body is at the very top–a clever design that keeps the cap from flying away when open.