Transforming Takeout (Phone Box + Dock)

The simplified problem statement for this assignment was to design a take-out container that would serve as both a was to take food to go and then “transform” into something else, like a plate, for eating.

Students were given some leeway in the project with a more general problem statement. Basically, the more general challenge was to create multi-purpose packaging for anything. However, the requirement was that the box be only made out of cardboard or cardstock. That meant no other adhesives or fasteners.


The first thing I did was actually look at a bunch of pictures online of different food containers, but that wasn’t really anything that grabbed my attention. I sketched out typical Chinese take-out box with a spoon keeping the box together, but that seemed like sort of a flawed design. Taking out the spoon would just cause the box to fall apart. I’m not really sure where I got the inspiration to work on a phone box / dock, but I start sketching out those ideas pretty soon.


Basically every phone sold comes in some sort of cardboard or cardstock box, most of which as discarded immediately after the phone is unpacked, so I figured it might be a good idea to come up with a design that furthered the life of the box. I sketched out how the box might look and how the phone and charger might be integrated into the box.


Here’s where I really took my first stab at figuring out how to fold this box. I first sketched the outside of the box and determined which faces should be solid and which ones were permissible to part. I then added folds and the hidden parts of the box along with the sheets that would “jig-saw” together to keep the box from falling apart.


Before trying to lay out the pattern for the box on cardboard, I grabbed a couple flat sheets and made a mock-up phone out of cardboard, too. That cardboard phone would serve as the form around which I made all the other dimensions.


With a straight edge, pencil, and marker, I marked out everything carefully. In the above layout, there’s actually an extra segment on the left end of the pattern. I had to trim the extra segment out and shift a couple lines toward the right.


After cutting everything out, I used a pretty dull pizza cutter and a straight edge to pre-crease all the fold lines. I had some issues with pressing too hard and tearing through the one side of the corrugated cardboard, but this was my first prototype, so it didn’t really matter.


After making a couple folds, it became pretty clear that I had to trim around the outside of the pattern by about 3mm to compensate for the thickness of the box in order to make sure the walls of the box ended up straight up and down.


With some tape, I was able to hold the first prototype together to get a picture of what the product might look like in the end. Seems fine so far…


After quite a number of hours with Solidworks, I had the pattern for the box along with the shelves and the charging cable holder assembly. These were then laser cut out of cardboard.


Here’s a close-up for how the charging cable is being held in place within the assembly.


Assembling this proved to be a little bit difficult, but doable. This also served as good practice for assembling the final one that I would end up submitting.


When laser cutting my final pattern, I had issues with the laser intensity. Despite using the same cardboard and laser power and speed settings, the final pattern did not cut properly. Using a headlamp to backlight the pattern, I was able to trace the cuts with an X-acto blade to free it from the rest of the cardboard.


There’s the final pattern for the phone box + dock. I added two semi-circular cutouts for the tab at the bottom of the box to allow users to pull out the tab more easily. The parts for holding the charging cable had to also be altered to compensate for the off-center mounting of the cable.

Mak_Anselm_ps2_101_productMak_Anselm_ps2_102_product Mak_Anselm_ps2_103_productAnd those are the pictures for the final product! For a short video of the product unboxing click on the following Youtube link:


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