Like many people, you may not have thought about the genius invention behind the toilet paper roll, paper towel roll, tape core, Pringles canister, hot cocoa container, Quaker Oats container, round paper lipstick packaging, Comet cleanser paper tube, and many other household products. As consumers we very rarely stop to think about the thought and design of each product that we use in our daily routines. The genius invention found in these products have one common core: The paper tube.
The creator of the paper tube is credited to Charles Sumner Tainter, who was an American inventor known for his work on the phonograph, and later the graphophone, which was a vast upgrade from Thomas Edison’s original phonograph (see image A). The paper tube that was originally used had a wax coating, which had the ability to reproduce sound when the cylinder tube was played back on a mechanical phonograph due to the audio engraved recording on the outside surface of the tube. Unfortunately, the design had several flaws that required many changes due to the inability to hold up to the extreme pressures of the phonograph.
The wear and tear of the original wax cover proved to be a bit taxing when the wax needed to be shaved down after each use. The paper tube inside was unable to sustain its shape. Tainter then patented the helically wound paper tube in 1887 (see image B), which upheld its shape through extreme pressure. “Helical” is to have the shape of a helix. The breakthrough in design spearheaded a revolution in future product inventions. Through the decades, this multi-paper cylinder creation, which was originally invented to produce audio replication, has grown into other forms of consumer products that we use today. Check around your house to see where this creation is put to use.