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Tyler Richards and Jonathan Thompson with their invention (via screen cap)

We’ve all done it. It’s July and you’ve spent the past hour firing up the charcoal grill and cooking up those patties. After what seems like a decade, your patty is finally ready, so you grab a bun and head towards the condiments table – then it happens. As you pick up the ketchup and as you squeeze, a futile, watery, ketchup imposter invades your burger. You are so worn out, you eat the watery imposter, and the soggy bun.


Well, “No more!” cried two high school students out of Liberty North High School in Missouri. The tiny tykes used 3D printing to solve an age old frustration – keeping gross ketchup water at bay.


The youngsters are students of Project Lead The Way, a STEM program initiative, which seeks to spark an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among high school students. Tyler Richards and Jonathan Thompson, the duo behind the design, said it took a while to convince their professor that the ketchup lid needed an update, but after shining a few apples, their idea was approved and they hit the books.


Ketchup is made from tomato paste, water, sugar, xanthan gum and a few other ingredients. As ketchup sits for long periods of time, the water separates from the tomato paste, because it has a lower density, creating what we’ve come to know as the foul, sweet water. The teens discovered, however, that a Pythagorean cup-like lid design keeps the water at bay, every time.



The Shroom (via screen cap)


The cap is composed of two tubes and a mushroom-like cap. The rounded basin catches the watery substance while the tubes push the good ketchup out of the bottle and onto your food, perfectly. The boys call the design “The Shroom,” because, well, marketing isn’t one of the STEM program’s four pillars. Nonetheless, ketchup fans everywhere are hailing the young boys for their innovative design.


Richards and Thompson made several dozen prototypes until the final products came to life. Each prototype was created using CAD/CAM software and a 3D printer, at roughly $0.226 per print. The kids are working on getting a provisional patent for the print and are hoping to make a decent cent off of the innovation. In the meantime, they will surely keep calm by napping, playing video games and eating cold pizza. Mmmm… cold pizza.



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