What innovation can be made in a simple piece of plastic to drink milk shake? Well, Mc Donalds did it. A high tech straw for a perfect proportion of beverage flavors.
Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 and during this season Mc Donald’s launches Shamrock Shake, a line of milkshakes in honor of the patron saint of Ireland. The milk shake itself is neither the star this year, but the high tech straw made especially for the drink.
STRAW is also the acronym that gave their name and means: suction tube for reverse axial withdrawal.
A team of product engineers and designers designed the whole concept and calculated the perfect angulation of the straw in J-shape. So, instead of taking the mint and chocolate drink in separate layers, one can suck the two at the same time, combining the flavors.
Of course, anyone can just mix flavors in the glass with a spoon, but surely it would lose all the appeal, the marketing, and the fun of creating an innovation. The process involved CAD modeling, prototype 3D printing, and fluid dynamics simulations.
It seemed simple at first, the plan was just to make a double straw with different size at each end, but as the drink was consumed the shorter straw would suck only air. Until they reasoned backwards (method much used in innovation processes, I recommend!): what if instead of drinking from the bottom up, why not drink from the top down? It was then that they switched to the current format.
The two holes placed strategically at the end of the curve allow the mint drink to be sucked in while the end pulls from the bottom as in a normal straw, sipping the chocolate. There is also a third hole, it prevents the consumer from swallowing air when the amount of drink decreases in the glass. The tests were not so enjoyable. To test the dynamics of liquids, the team sucked a mixture of oil and water and then spit and media the proportion of liquids. Then they went on drinking milk shakes to test the size of the holes.
Unfortunately only 2000 units of the high tech straw will be distributed and only in the US. But after all, if the saint is Irish, should not the straw be distributed in Ireland?