I know it is not everybody’s cup of tea - to trawl through a scrapyard full of random junk in the hot sun, but it happens to be one of my favourite things to do. I discovered such a place in South Africa a few years ago… and that’s when I found a rusted old crane hook, which eventually became the inspiration for Grpl hook.
Grapple [Grpl] hook is a versatile storage solution for hanging random objects and is sold in packs or as a custom installation. It has been one of our most successful products, but it took some time to get to that point - here is the story….
After that day in the scrap yard the hook hung on a nail on my bedroom wall for about a year. “I really like that hook” I remember saying to myself at one day. Thats when I realised that this hook deserved more than a nail in the wall… and it needed to be transformed.
I burst into a prototyping frenzy and came up with a bunch of ideas….
I wanted to create something useful and also a product that showcased the hook - that raw beauty of form following pure function.
The overall design involved the ' hook ’, the ‘hanging part’…and also how these 2 parts combined together in a functional way.
For the ‘hanging part’ I experimented with various materials such as rope and hemp before settling on jute webbing. Jute webbing is strong, renewable, grown and woven locally in France.
I started replicating the hook in bio-resin as it was a great way to get some early working prototypes as well as capturing all details of the original hook. After a few experiments the buckle system started to develop.
Batch casting the hooks using the resin was good for prototypes but was complicated and expensive for production… I needed a production solution…
Grass is great if you are a cow or play football, and it turns out it is also great to make bio-plastic.
After some research we discovered this marvellous material, it is made by Bio-wert and the material is called AgriPlast. Together we figured out a way to transform the original iron crane hook from the scrap yard to a finished injection moulded replica made from this amazing grass-plastic.
Agriplast has a high content of grass clippings [as in mow the lawn grass] mixed with recycled polypropylene [as in plastic reclaimed from your shampoo bottles], which can reduce the need for petroleum-based plastics by up to 75%
This stuff is strong, light, has recycled/renewable content, ….and it can be injection moulded….
Making an injection moulded part is expensive, so to get things right and to capture the original crane hook as accurately as possible, a 3D scan was made. Then a few working prototypes were 3D printed. After some testing the final form was prepared for moulding.
As noThrow Design is big on having good green credentials for all their products, doing it locally was an important part of this product development. Grpl is made in the EU, with the hook being moulded in Germany, the jute webbing grown and woven in France and the rest is assembled in Spain.
What do you want to hang?