What is the history behind the design of drinking fountain buttons and how have they evolved over time?

What is the history behind the design of drinking fountain buttons and how have they evolved over time?

The Evolution of Drinking Fountain Buttons: A Tale of Simplicity, Reliability, and Public Health

Imagine if a simple push of a button could quench your thirst and revitalize your body. That’s the power of drinking fountains, a ubiquitous part of our public spaces. But have you ever stopped to wonder about the history behind the humble drinking fountain button?

From Pliers to Buttons: A Journey of Innovation

The origins of the drinking fountain date back to the late 19th century. In 1897, the Hyde Fountain Company introduced a design that required users to squeeze a set of pliers-like handles to dispense water. In 1906, Haws Corporation revolutionized the industry with their first drinking fountain, which featured a more user-friendly push-button design.

The Cartridge Revolution: Modular and Maintainable

In the late 1950s, the introduction of the cartridge system marked a significant advance in drinking fountain design. This modular component contains the entire water delivery mechanism, making it easy to remove and swap out in case of repairs.

Bill Epker, a 45-year veteran of Haws Corporation, highlights the widespread adoption of this cartridge design. “Three of our four competitors use this same cartridge,” he says.

Beyond Buttons: The Rise of Hands-Free Options

While the push button remains the dominant design for traditional drinking fountains, advancements in technology have led to the introduction of hands-free sensors and solenoids in refrigerated indoor fountains and water bottle fillers.

However, the simplicity and reliability of the traditional button design continue to make it a preferred choice for public drinking fountains. Mike Wilhelm, marketing manager at Haws Corporation, explains that “people are falling back to mechanical operation more and more” after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensuring Accessibility and Hygiene

The design of drinking fountain buttons is not just about convenience, but also about accessibility and hygiene. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, public drinking fountains must shoot a stream of water at least four inches high and be operable with one hand using no more than five pounds of force.

The Future of Drinking Fountain Buttons

While hands-free options continue to emerge, the traditional drinking fountain button remains a reliable and efficient solution for public hydration. The simplicity of its design, combined with its modularity and maintainability, ensures its continued presence in our public spaces.

Moreover, the increasing awareness of public health concerns has emphasized the importance of regular maintenance and disinfection of drinking fountains, ensuring that the buttons we press provide us with safe and refreshing water.

By Mehek

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