Microwave Steamer

Microwave Steamer

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What It Does

Microwave Steamer could turn any common microwave oven into a steamer. It helps users, especially those with digestive problems to cook and steam food easily and healthily.

The Inspiration

I had a hasty and busy life last year, studying in college while doing internship. During that period I suffered from stomach problems. To alleviate burdens on my stomach I should eat less food and more times in one day. There is only microwave oven in school and my office and I can hardly cook myself. It is troublesome to eat at ordinary lunch/dinner time, not to mention cooking several meals a day. It surprised me that many people around me had the same request to eat healthily because of different digestive problems. So when I got the chance to design for a cookware company in my graduation design, I decided to solve this problem for those people also for myself.

How It Works

After comparing different ways of cooking Chinese food, I focus on steaming-the best way of cooking with smooth temperature that preserves food nutrition and water without too much fat. I am trying to make steaming suitable for everywhere. Microwave ovens is common in public areas in China so I decided to study how to use microwave oven to steam food. When we put the water blow foods in microwave oven, microwave makes the food heats up more quickly than water heating and the food temperature can go up quickly with molecules vibration, which does harm to food nutrition. It’s important to protect the food from microwave. After studying on the ways of shielding microwave, I decide to use inner metal layer, which absorbs microwave in the food box and cover to protect the food from it. On that way, only water can be heated by microwave and the water will cook the food with a smooth temperature below 105 degrees Celsius to protect nutrients. The steamer, at the same time, can keep the food moisture and soft for to be digested.

Stages of Development

I studied on a lot of cases concerned with microwave heating to make sure my design work without creating new problems. However, I found that heating water in microwave may cause water bumping, which is dangerous for users and microwave oven. It is one of the most common accidents in microwave oven using but never been mentioned in other microwave cookware. There are a lot of ways to avoid bumping, like putting a plastic spoon in the water or use a rough container. So I add some ball shape texture at the bottom of water box to avoid that.

Besides that, I want to solve other problems from users in the detailed design. I got some new problems from them: they tend to eat until they feel full, which is actually overloaded for their recovering digestive system. For convenience they refrigerate and reheat food several times in a day. Some people feel sick on certain food after keeping long-term diets. I design the small food boxes according to energy request for adults and doctor’s suggestions. The food boxes are made with opaque materials so that users are less likely to have bad impression with liquid food. In addition, the colored labels are designed to help users to distinguish different food. The folk and spoon is combined together so that less tableware will get lost.

Novelty

The first innovation is inner metal layer. It makes microwave steaming safe and convenient. There are microwave ovens that can steam, which are more expensive and usually don’t exist on public areas like hospitals, schools, and offices, where users often stay. Some lunch boxes are called microwave steamer, but they don’t shield microwave. They only replenish water content for food. A few products use metal in the steamer to protect food but the metal is exposed, which is dangerous for users and the microwave oven because it may release electricity when absorbing microwave.

The second innovation is the texture on the bottom of water box. Bumping is common and dangerous when heating liquids in microwave ovens. But so far as I know, there are no cookwares solving this problem.

Future Plans

I am looking forward to supports from related companies so I can do some model tests and user tests to check and develop the design. If that’s possible, I hope this design can get through the problems on materials, manufacturing, costs and sales and finally go the market to serve for people who need it.

Awards

2016 Excellent Award of Shanghai University Students' Industrial Design