Tuesday, May 9th, marks the 50th anniversary of our founder Ray Confer’s greatest invention – the living hinge.
Although invented in 1963 and filed in 1964, the US Patent Office didn’t officially grant the patent until this day in 1967.
At a Confer Plastics predecessor called AirMold Plastics Inc., Ray and his business partner at the time, Peter Schurman, designed the living hinge as a means to more efficiently make plastic tool cases. The addition of metal hinges always added cost to the final product due to materials and assembly. So, Ray came up with an ingenious way to eliminate the metal hinges by molding a plastic hinge in process as a part of the case itself, rather than as an add-on.
Basically, the living hinge is a thin section of plastic that connects two halves of a part to keep them together and allow the part to be opened and closed over and over again. You can see the hinge in these photos that show a SCBA case.
The patent was signed over to their customer WR Grace to which Airmold was also sold. WR Grace — which is now a $3 billion chemical conglomerate – then let the invention go public.
Since then, the living hinge — created out of necessity and ingenuity – has been everywhere. It is a part of our everyday lives. It can be found in use of billions of toolboxes, tackle boxes, and cases and there’s no doubt that multiple products in your home and garage have the living hinge on them.
It might be seem like a simple invention by today’s standards, but in the formative years of the industrial blow molding industry, it was a real game changer.
We take a lot of pride in knowing our dad, our grandfather, developed this ubiquitous invention.