Product designer Zihni Yalcin has designed a three-pin electrical plug that folds up for easy transportation.
Called ThinPlug, the product is suitable for devices that don't need to be earthed.
The plastic earth pin folds away between the live and neutral pins.
The product has been awarded with a Red Dot Award.
See also: Folding Plug by Min-Kyu Choi.
Here's some more information from Yalcin:
ThinPlug was born out of frustration. On buying a slim latest designed laptop one day in 2006, Zihni Yalcin queried where he could store his standard UK 3 pin plug that came with it, as with all portable electronic equipment. He did not get a convincing answer and so he decided to find one. And he did!
The unique patented folding rotating earth pin that he invented solved 3 problems. The UK standard 3 pin plug has: bulkiness, weight and protruding pins. The newly designed plug is small, light and has no protruding pins in storage position, making it comfortable to carry. If packed away with your laptop, it will not scratch equipment. ThinPlug can be used with all Class II electronic equipment that do not require earth pins including laptop computers, Mp3 and Mp4 players, digital cameras and camcorders.
In storage position the plug is flat with the earth pin resting parallel to, and lies between the live and neutral pins. The earth pin is housed within the central column that is attached to the body of the plug.
Opening the plug to use requires one simple action that can be effected with a single movement using the thumb. The central column that rotates and is attached to the main body raises to rest in a vertical position whilst the rotating earth pin that is housed within the column and attached at the top is released and rotated outwards into open position ready to be inserted into a socket.
The biggest obstacle to making an alternative UK plug has to be safety. The conservative ‘British Standards’ approach towards new inventions has safeguarded public safety and it is a daunting prospect for any inventor to try to change the standard plug without risking falling foul of the detailed provisions governing the safety of UK plugs. One of those provisions is to have a fuse inside the plug, which should not be accessible when it is in use.
When in open position, the central column’s specially designed spine double locks the unique rotating fuse door preventing any possibility of access to the fuse while in use. Folding mechanism is designed to be disabled if the specially designed rotating fuse door is not fully shut. Unique double safety feature of the rotating fuse door mechanism is that it is also designed as a cut off switch. If all the above safety features fails and the fuse door is rotated whilst the plug is in operation, the power gets cut off.
One other main design feature of ThinPlug is achieving to make the smallest UK plug (16mm thick) by only folding ISOD pin and not the main power pins. Folding main power pins can create a possibility of a fire risk as the plug gets used in time.
Mr Zihni Yalcin’s ThinPlug has won world recognition for its design and innovation at the Red Dot Design Awards in 2009.
It is currently under licence to a manufacturing company Taller GmbH based in Germany. The plug to be produced will have equivalent safety to the standard 3 Pin plug with a supplemental British Standard having been set with the new design in mind. ASTA BEAB certification is to be given to ThinPlug and launch of the product is expected soon.
ThinPlug can be used abroad by clipping on a specially designed ThinAdapter. Made with safety in mind, the new adapter can only be used with the ThinPlug so that non-Class II electronic appliances can be used with it.
ThinCharger is a natural development of the ThinPlug idea. All chargers for mobile phones that will be made with USB sockets, the newly designed charger has the USB socket, like ThinPlug is flat and has a folding pin. ThinCharger was launched at the Expo in Hong Kong 2009 to critical acclaim. It is under licence to Taller Asia and is now available. It has been granted CE certification.
Like ThinPlug, the unique ThinAdapter can be attached for use abroad.
ThinPlug and ThinCharger are protected by patents and Design Rights and are owned by Thin Plug Ltd.