“What if it was backwards?”

The Other Way Round: Invert the object or process.

Ketchup bottles

Upside down ketchup bottles with the cap at the bottom ease applying sauce as its already in contact with the nozzle.

In 1991 Paul Brown invented a dripless shampoo bottle that could be left on the side of the tub upside down. This invention also found use by baby food manufacturers and even NASA for drinks in space. Heinz introduced the upside down Ketchup bottle in 2002. Brown made nearly $14 million dollars selling his invention and company.

Upside down

“Upside-down” motorcycle forks (with the female slider below) provide greater stiffness during braking.

It is easier to clean bottles by inverting and injecting water from below so that the water drains on its own.

Many car assembly lines will turn the cars over at some point to ease applying parts and fasteners to the undercarriage.

When canned beans are stored upside down the beans don’t get stuck to the bottom when opened.

The opposite

The English Channel Tunnel was the answer to the question, if we can’t build a bridge over the channel, can we build a tunnel under the channel?

Food can be preserved with heat or cold.

A drive through restaurant brings food to the person in the car instead of the person in the car to the food.

An electric can opener makes the can revolve, instead of traveling around the can’s lid.

Annular parts can be fit together by either temporarily heating the exterior part so it expands or cooling the interior part so it shrinks.

Instead of asking pedestrians to move, move the sidewalk like a conveyor.

Test pressure vessel by varying pressure outside rather than inside the vessel

Rotate the part instead of the tool.

A rotary aircraft engine rotates the crankcase instead of the crank.

A wind tunnel forces air over an object instead of forcing the object through the air.

Use the other side

Double-sided printing saves reduces paper consumption by half. Reversible clothing creates two looks for the price of one.

More examples

As I stumble across real world examples of this Inventive Principle in action I add them here.

Your turn

What problems do you face that this inventive principle could help solve? Have you used this principle before?

Photo by Mike Mozart, Flickr