Coinstar "Cash for Coins" Kiosk 

Do you have a jar of coins at home? If so, then perhaps you've seen and used the Coinstar machine around Seattle, or perhaps in California.

At Teague, Coinstar came to us when they were just a three person startup company in 1993 (now they approaching 100 employees). They had built four market research units and had them in stores in Northern California and had gotten good responses.

But there were some problems - the units were not manufacturable in volume, there were some ergonomic issues and Coinstar was not totally happy with their previous design firm. To make a long story short, Teague won their business and spent some time redesigning the entire unit, starting with the "look" and colors. The original unit was gray and got totally lost in a supermarket. Hence, the very loud color scheme Teague came up with.

We completely changed the form factor of the unit and made it so it could be serviced more easily and made it more reliable. We did all the mechanical engineering and some of the electrical engineering as well. We did all the mechanical design using Pro/Engineer and produced about 75 drawings for all the parts.

Coinstar built three prototypes of the new design (one of which is shown above). Once we got those together and worked out the bugs, they built 25 more for their first pilot production run. The total time from when we started on the project until we had a working proto was about 5 months. Production was up an going about 7 months after we started - it was a crash effort.

I was the mechanical project lead on this program and some of the detailed mechanical design. I was the lead person to develop the mechanical "architecture" up front and figure out a good way to build the system (it uses a welded tubular frame with lots of large sheet metal and plastic parts hung onto the frame.).

It was a fun project and the Coinstar people were a great group of folks to work with. It's very satisfying to see them become as successful as they have and to have played some part in their success.

Last updated: November 09, 1996