Tamboo rods are man made from natural and synthetic materials.
As indicated in the CatTamboo creation story, our interactive cat toys are modeled from the whip-like action of a weeping willow stem. So I want to share more about why Tamboo Rods are the perfect product for imitating this whipping action while maintaining durability. Tamboo Rods are named after bamboo. Like bamboo cane poles, Tamboo rods take advantage of many of the strength and ductility benefits gifted to us by nature. In regards to cat toys, sometimes being all natural is the best solution by fact of the engineering marvel of nature.
The pet industry strives for indestructible products. High expectations are good, but many consumers place unrealistic expectations upon products. The result is pet products such as our competitors where they place feathers on the end of a heavy plastic stick or tube. What happens? The cat eats or destroys the feather and the plastic goes in the trash.
The question is, does this “design decision” make sense? The answer is Yes and NO! Yes, if you are trying to make a product appear indestructible before consumers. And NO, if you want a common sense, balance design. Excellent engineering is all about balance and proportion. To place a feather which has a short life cycle on the end of a heavy plastic rod having a long life cycle (too long) is NOT optimal. As such, most pet product manufacturers have sacrificed good engineering to answer consumer demands for more durable – even indestructible – products. Other pet toy makers have solved this issue by making the feather part of the toy replaceable. Most of these feather toys use a string and short plastic or fiberglass stick.
Several engineering problems arise when you begin forcing the “indestructibility syndrome” upon the design of a cat toy.
The first problem being that you are forced to use a shorter rod or stick. The reasons for this are: (1) gravity, (2) material cost, (3) structural performance.
As the rod gets larger in diameter and longer, it gets heavier. It can’t be rolled for packaging, the action is clunky, and the volume of material required makes the cost go up. The main issue of concern is the rod action needed in order to make the feathers fly.
The goal is to make the feather arrangement fly like a wing. You cannot accomplish this task without the precise balance or proportion of weight, strength, stiffness, and elasticity. Though we can mimic some of these behaviors using man made plastics, how much better can it be with natural materials that are eco friendly and sustainable? Part of the innovative design of CatTamboo® interactive pet toys involves finding a perfect balance of strength to weight and stiffness to elasticity!
Tamboo rods are not an indestructible product. Instead, tamboo rods are manufactured to be a balanced and durable pet product made into an interactive feather toy for kitty cats!
Still a valid question is: Can we duplicate the action with a more durable material?
Not based on our current experience, and certainly not in a cost effective way. Here is a simple analogy: Try to create a fake, synthetic feather that looks and acts just like a real one. Now, people have tried really hard to do exactly this and have made fake feathers, but they are nothing like a real feather. The fact is that there are many things in nature that are better than man can make. When it comes to cat toys, there is nothing better than tamboo rod man-made from nature for making feathers fly through the air.
Not convinced? Well here is a bit more about the process we went through. Some engineering wisdom:
The two primary synthetic materials that we considered as alternative to tamboo are: (1) Nylon and (2) Fiberglass. The reason we chose nylon plastic over others is for its ductility and availability. A stiff plastic would certainly break at smaller diameters-thus force us back into the “indestructibility syndrome”. Nylon is softer and more bendable.
Unfortunately, the modulus of elasticity in nylon is too low (so it become a limp noodle). Also, it kinks too easily at smaller diameters. Nylon isn’t a rigid enough material to properly function. But even with tougher plastics that won’t kink, there is still an improper weight to stiffness ratio. Plastic fibers also create some safety concerns in addition to putting harmful plastics into the environment. An adequate fiber needs to be light and stiff, yet flexible enough for good action at the end of the cat toy.
Unlike nylon, fiberglass has a much higher modulus of elasticity (ie…rigidity). Yet fiberglass is still too heavy and due to the higher modulus of elasticity, can also become a weapon at smaller diameters. In comparison to say graphite, it is more expensive, it splinters, and can also be a very dangerous weapon when broken.
Comparing fishing rods is a great way to demonstrate what we achieve for cat toys by utilizing tamboo rods. Much like with a fly fishing rod, a Tamboo® rod has an adequate taper with good mid-body action and tip action. Even the lightest, thinnest graphite or flexible fiberglass rod, when tapered, fails to outperform the durability and functionality of Tamboo rods.
We are constantly inventing, re-inventing, testing, and improving our innovative pet toys.
“We learn so much from nature, it truly is wondrous!”