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Armed with a 3-D printer, high school kids design innovative ketchup closure

By: Don Loepp

April 25, 2014

For all the pundits who say America's youth aren't learning skills they need to work in the booming manufacturing sector, meet Jonathan Thompson and Tyler Richards.

They're two Missouri high school seniors who love ketchup. But, more importantly, they have some pretty advanced manufacturing-related skills, thanks to Project Lead The Way, a national project that's helping develop interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Through the program, Thompson and Richards had access to computer-assisted design software and a 3-D printer.

What they came up with was pretty clever: a plastic cap that prevents the watery-ketchup problem — you know, the thing that happens when you don't shake the bottle first, and you get a watery mess when you first try to squeeze some ketchup on your burger and fries.

The pair conceived a solution to the problem, and talked their teacher into letting them create the product. (Did the Wright Bros. have to ask permission before they invented the airplane? C'mon guys!).

Then Thompson designed the actual closure using CAD software, and he turned over the file to Richards, who built the closure on a 3-D printer.

"There's not many classes where you can do a year-long research project on ketchup," Richards said. "So it's an interesting class."

Pretty cool stuff. I imagine these two have a future in a mold making and design shop.