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Product in a Tin

Inspiration for a design & make activity

OUR PRODUCT IN A TIN COMPETITION IS NO LONGER RUNNING. INFORMATION IS PROVIDED HERE FOR TEACHERS TO USE THE ACTIVITY AS A MODULE OF WORK OR AS A COMPETITION WITHIN THEIR OWN SCHOOL.


Huge thanks to Husqvarna Viking, Coles Sewing Centre & Mindsetsonline for sponsorship & support over the years.

Inspiration for 'Product in a Tin'

Jollie Socks is a social enterprise company who sell socks packaged in a recyclable tin can. For every pair of socks sold another pair is donated to a homeless shelter. The product inspired our Product in a Tin competition because of the unusual packaging idea of selling a product in a tin can, along with the sustainability aspects of both the  product and packaging.

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The design brief

  • Create a ‘Product in a Tin’ using materials from at least two of the materials categories used in Design & Technology e.g. wood, metal, plastic, textiles and paper/board. 

  • The product MUST use at least two different D&T materials e.g. wood and metal might be combined, or wood and plastic, textiles and wood, plastic and textiles, paper and textiles or any other combination. 

  • Materials can be in the form of a ready made/bought component or the material can be shaped and formed by the student.

  • The product has to fit in to a Pringles 40g snack size tin. Scroll down to find out more about the tin including sizes. The tin acts as a size restriction for the product and doesn’t need to be included in the design (unless the student chooses to do this).

  • The product can be smaller than the tin but must be able to fit in the tin with the lid closed. It can be rolled, folded or taken apart to fit in the tin (but remember it must be a made product and not a materials & components kit such as a first aid kit).

  • Any product can be designed but it must have a user and have a purpose/function. 

  • The product can be made using hand or machine techniques (products should not just use glue as a construction technique unless this is appropriate for the materials used). 

  • Think about how outcomes will stand out e.g. how can it solve a real design problem? Can the focus be on a design problem outside a student’s own experience e.g. linked to the United Nations 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development?

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The tin

  • The product has to fit in to a tubular tin that is the same size as a 40g Pringles snack tin or a 60g Nescafe Azera coffee tin. The Pringles tin can be bought from smaller supermarkets, petrol stations etc. and the coffee tin from larger supermarkets. A tin doesn’t need to be bought and the dimensions are a circle base with a diameter of 75mm and circumference pf 242mm, along with a side height of 77.4mm.

  • The purpose of the tin is give a restriction on the size of the product. This allows for choice on what can be designed but it keeps the product small enough to post cheaply. 

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  • Don’t forget to clean the tin when testing to see if the product will fit!

  • The product can be smaller than the tin but must be able to fit in the tin with the lid closed. It can be rolled, folded or taken apart to fit in to the tin (but remember it must be a finished product and not a materials & components kit such as a first aid kit).

  • A cap and ring set can be purchased from Mindsetsonline as an alternative to a Pringles can (use the template to make sure the height of the can is correct). 

  • The can could be decorated when making the product. It could also be a part of the product that is designed.

Identifying a user

The design brief says the product must have a user. This is the person who will use the product that has been made so during the design process their wants and needs will have to be considered. Examples of users might be:

  • A person from a particular age group e.g. child, grandparent

  • An animal or its owner

  • Sports person e.g. swimmer, runner, footballer

  • Someone at work e.g. bus driver, fire fighter, paramedic, policeman, shop assistant

  • Someone doing their hobby e.g. musician, photographer

  • Someone going to an event e.g. traveller, holiday maker, festival goer

  • Think of a more unusual user e.g. an alien, a circus act, a zoo keeper, a superhero

  • Why not focus on a user and user needs linked to the United Nations 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development?

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Functional product

The design brief says that your product must have a function/purpose. This refers to what the product does and when it might be used. Some examples might be: 

  • To protect something

  • To aid communication

  • To carry something

  • To display something

  • To improve someone’s quality of life

  • To help someone relax

  • To help stop someone from losing something

  • To help someone learn something 

  • To promote something e.g. a charity

  • Any other purpose/function you can think of!

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Things to think about

Research existing products in shops that are sold in tins, boxes or jars to get inspiration, as well as looking at existing products generally that are small enough to fit in the tin. Don't just copy the ideas but use them as a starting point to develop your ideas from. 

  • What user design problem can be solved?

  • How might materials be combined and used in an unusual way?

  • What techniques might be used?

  • How can sections of the product be made interactive e.g. hidden sections, bits that light up, bits that change colour?

  • How can the product stand out from others e.g. the shape of the product

  • How can you make ideas original rather than copying other products and logos?

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Thinking about the learning

Examples of learning this activity has the potential to cover when delivered as a module of work includes:

  • Material categories, sources and properties

  • Product analysis and existing products

  • Users, needs and design contexts (including designing for user, needs and contexts beyond the experience of learners e.g. by using the United Nations 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development)

  • Sustainability (e.g. linked to the 'wear a pair, share a pair' approach of Jollie Socks, materials used to create the product as well as materials used in the Pringles tin - this article might be useful for thinking about deconstructing a Pringle tin)

  • Skills and techniques linked to designing and making

  • Links to maths e.g. volume of the tin

  • Branding, particularly as Pringles rebranded their logo in 2021 

  • PowerPoint resource developed by Jane Ford from King George V School in Hong Kong (if you adapt this resource remember to acknowledge the original creator and don’t remove any credits they have included). 

  • Download these #ThinkDo classroom resources

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Inspiration from competition entries

Help us continue to provide some of our resources for free 

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