ThinPlug by Zihni Yalcin

| 32 comments

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:

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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.

  • Jimmy

    Seems familiar, yet not as well designed…

    http://bit.ly/7zqTB8

    Wonder which came first – chicken or the egg…

  • http://delasmentiras.blogspot.com Rodion Romanov

    @Jimmy… Yes, stop designing cars, Henry Ford did it first.

    (You can change cars-Ford for, let’s say, sofas-van der Rohe, wheels-Homo Habilis… and so on)

    The desing seems ugly, complicated, breakable and not so space saving at all.

  • kaptnk

    what Jimmy said. The folding plug isn’t a new concept. But a very good one!

    I wish I could get one of the folding plugs Jimmy has pointed out

  • http://www.thinplug.com Joshua

    Jeremy,as I am associated with the project to make the new plug and charger, I can say for certain that ThinPlug was born on February 6th 2006. It’s unique feature and advantage over a number of attempts by others to make a smaller plug is, that only one pin, the ISOD, folds rendering it safer than almost all other new plug designs that pre-date and post-date and we know will be safe to use

  • BRian

    Dudes.
    I prefer the Design of the RCA student we all saw earlier this year. That was a MUCH more elegant design and solution- albeit without technical standards testing. That design was responsible for making me weep and question my place in the universe. I now run a hippy commune in Northern California :p

    B

  • http://lbrn.org LBRN

    The other one is far better designed as it explore not only the traditional use of the 3 pin plug as well know but how we can use it in its folded version (USB, extensions and so on). Besides , the presentation is much sleekier.

  • andrea

    maybe i dont know fully the english regulations but… what does the third pin acctually do? is it the earthing (ground)? or is just a plastic pin.. ? if so why is it needed could you not just have a two live pin flat plug?

  • Tomas

    British plugs are amazingly ridiculous. Any attempt to make them sleeker should be applauded. This one is down to earth design – seems well thought and worked out!

  • kaptnk

    @andrea

    england is a bit safety concious[/mad] the third pin is an earth.
    But it’s necessary to have a third prong (even if it’s plastic) because it is used to slide a cover away from the two live holes in alot of socket designs. That’s why this one needs a plastic third prong.

    The british plug design is an absolute tank, really safe (unless you’re stumbling around drunk and stand on one left upright, very painful) I think it’s one of the few lugs in the world with a fuse though. It’s a good design in terms of safety, just bulky.

  • Tom

    Zihni Yalcin is making a cheap copy version of a great project by Min-Kyu Choi.

    What else to say than same on you Zihni Yalcin – make your own ideas don’t steal others…!

  • diane benvenga

    this thin plug is the most amazing product i have ever seen and cannot wait until it is on the market in england so that myself and all my colleagues can purchase this. as i am a gadget freak this is a must!!!!!!!!!!

  • Zenin

    Rodion Romanow…..Not space saving???? Have you ever seen the UK plug!!!

    Designing a safe product is one thing and designing a product just to look good is another. I know that so many have tried to make the bulky UK plug smaller but have failed. Mainly because of the BS1363 rules. Well done to whoever has designed this…And I want one now.
    I found their actual site below..

    http://www.thinplug.com

  • Kathy

    I saw this great product at red dot design museum in Essen, Germany when it won an award but did not see their usb charger and the adapters. Fantastic idea!! I am fed up with having to carry that huge UK plug wherever I go. I want one too and I specially want the charger but I don’t think they are on the market yet.
    Does anyone know where I can buy these products???

  • http://zihni.yalcin@thinplug.com Zihni Yalcin

    ThinPlug was born and patented in February 2006. Four years of research and development has resulted in a new Supplementary Standard being written specifically for ThinPlug by ASTA ( Intertek) a leading authority for approval of UK plugs. Has entered for red dot award in November 2008 and was awarded in February 2009, which means it was a finished product even before that.
    So please Tom, research before you accuse someone of being a thief.
    In any case…anyone who understands anything about design would instantly recognize that they are totally different designs.
    I hope Min Kyu Choi design does well. I would admire anyone who comes up with an alternative to today’s bulky UK plug.

  • http://wearetol.com Barton Smith

    @Rodion Romanov
    I don’t really think you can compare Jimmy’s comment to the automotive industry. It’s the fact that we haven’t seen much innovation in this area and then within a short period, two come out with the same intentions. But hey at the end of the day, we could have 10 people with their own twist on it. As long as something gets to market, whos to complain.

    I did find it interesting, however, that both projects started their description with “it came out of frustration of bulky chargers with thin laptops”.

  • Alan

    I can see that Zihni’s design has been based on engineering traditions. It looks practical, minimum moving parts and safe. Zihni has solved another big and bulky problem which is the UK charger. I picked one at Hong Kong Fair early this year and I love it.
    Min-Kyu’s design might look sleek but has too many moving parts and a fuse that can be accessed whilst in use making it potentially hazardous. I personally do not think that it will ever get a safety standard like all the others before or even if it does it will not be in the shape that it is now.
    And by the way @ Tom, Thin plug totally different concept and the project is at least 4 years older than the one you are referring to. Stop accusing people before getting your facts right and grow up.
    Wake up guys!!! We need a practical and safe UK plug that we can use every day and Zihni has hopefully given it to us.

  • Simon

    This is a great design!!!
    It is simple and small with no protruding pins. Perfect for travelling and it’s a whole package
    As an electrical engineer I know that UK plugs have to have a fuse inside them and it is there to cut off the current if something happens to the cable to eliminate the risk of a fire. As far as I know there are hundreds of clauses in British Standards governing its safety and the way the fuse is arranged inside the plug is one of them. You can only use specified materials and the contact spacing is dictated by the rules of the standards and so on and so on.

    As Zenin says “Designing a safe product is one thing and designing a product just to look good is another” and I also do not think that Min-Kyu design will achieve safety certification in its current shape.

    Credit to Zihni for his design and I am sure it was not an easy ride. The information I got from their web site is that it is currently being tested for safety certification.

    I can’t wait to buy some.

  • Bayram Durmuş

    Sizi tüm kalbimle tebrik ediyorum, ve başarılarınızı devamını diliyorum.

  • Melany

    It could only be Zihni….otherwise known as “Richard”. I know this guy, I studied with him donkeys’ years ago. Brilliant guy and gosh…. was he handsome too…

    He was a well known gig then. Well done Zihni and I hope you are well.

  • Albert

    Wow!!! great idea

    thats “geek” Melany

    And what would we do without them?

    Love it…but will it get to the market????
    I bloody hope so.

  • Koray Kaya

    I witnessed to the birth of this idea, and I am very happy to see that the concept now became real!! Brilliant improvement for making the life easier in UK. Enjoy with the intelligence… The best ideas are the simplest ones…

  • Denis

    More I look at thinplug more I realize how great and practical product it really is.

    A: it’s small and compact as it needs to be
    B: It’s simple and easy to use
    C: It’s got the whole package…travel adapters, USB charger and the UK plug.

    Min-Kyu Choi design might have a multi plug adapter but why would you need it? I thought the whole idea was portability when on the move. In order to use his USB charger you would need to carry that large adapter with you.

    http://thinplug.com/Thin-Charger-Thin-Adapter.html

    There is no information on cost and availability yet though….

  • http://bizvprog.blogspot.com/ Keith Henry

    The funny UK plug design is the result of us being very low on copper for rewiring bombed out houses after WWII. We put the fuse in the plug and everything in the house goes on the same loop.

    On the plus side that plug can cope with electric ovens and the like, but it’s a bit much for most appliances.

    The important question is when can I get one? I would happily pay £20 or so now to get this in a UK hardware store with a c8 or c5 connection on the other end.

  • mete

    Tebrik ederim çalışmanız için

  • Adam

    Better than anything before!!

    This looks down to earth and functional solution to the problem, and not just another fashion statement.

    REAL PRODUCT well done!!!!

  • Martin

    Perfect.

    What else would you need from a plug. It looks compact easy to use and safe.

    Why was this not done before????

  • Simone
  • Salo

    Cool Design!!!

    @Simone
    Have seen Minkyu design before, it’s too complicated and has too many moving parts. I am also not happy with rotating live pins. Safety should come before shape. Fuse is also easily accessible. It is designed but not engineered.

    Yalcin’s design thin-plug is more of a real product than anything I have seen before.

    Proper engineering and something useful at last!!!

  • Richard

    I have seen the design and read the reviews!!!!

    NOW

  • Richard

    NOW WHERE CAN I BUY ONE !!!!

  • TechReporter

    I just learned that Minkyu design is a “platonic” approach whereas Thin Plug is for real. Everyone has ideas to bring them to life but majority of them remain as “platonic”. However, it seems to me that Thin Plug guy has done it. Good for him.

  • http://www.thinplug.com Josh

    ThinPlug now on the market!!! Retrak are selling it with their notebook chargers.