Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Professional croissant on closed course. Do not attempt.

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Deflatable Dinghy

Think vacuum-packed coffee.
  [vote for,

When you pull the air out of a foil pack of coffee it goes hard, as the irregularly shaped coffee grounds pack tightly and lock against each other.

Applying this phenomenon to a boat, you would construct a dinghy out of panels made of two sealed thick sheets of rubber. Between these two sheets would be several additional wafer thin membranes with tough, lightweight, irregularly shaped granules embedded in them*.

When folding/unfolding the dingy, you would allow air in between the layers: not enough to blow it up like a balloon, but enough to push the layers of granules apart. To use the boat unfold it, add the strengthening struts and, using the supplied vacuum pump, take out the air. This pulls the thin layers together, locking the granules against each other, making the what was a collapsable mass of rubber sheet into a rigid servicable boat.

The same technique can be used to make walking boots hard to protect ankles (vacuum pump in the heel?), to make instant zip-on plastercast/splints, or the 'soft'-top of a convertible car. Anything** that needs to be able to fold when stowed, but hard when used.

*Embedding the granules in the sheets stops them pooling at one end of a panel. The granules should be embedded so that they would stick out of both the top and bottom surfaces of the sheet, i.e. two sheets laid on top of each other will touch granule to granule so that they can lock when the air is evacuated.

**No sex-toys please. It's just too obvious.

st3f, Sep 13 2003

Vacuum splints http://www.hartwell....html#anchor5823624
Imobilise the part of your choice [oneoffdave, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       Good idea, but isn't the purpose of deflating something to make it take up less space?   

       Perhaps "deflatable" is a misnomer.
DeathNinja, Sep 13 2003

       Vacuum vessel?
bristolz, Sep 13 2003

       "disinflatable" ?
st3f, Sep 13 2003

       Evacuated craft?
FarmerJohn, Sep 13 2003

       Man, this new boat really sucks to float.   

       "I know a girl who can suck a dinghy hard in under a minute."
DeathNinja, Sep 13 2003

       "Yeah, but I heard she doesn't have both oars in the water."
Cedar Park, Sep 14 2003

       Alternative name: Vacuum pack smack (as in fishing smack, nothing kinky [DN]) +
nichpo, Sep 15 2003

       They use a variant of this to make vacuum splints. Usually based on polystyrene beads with dividers to prevent bead migration.
oneoffdave, Sep 15 2003

       ...and I thought I was being original.
st3f, Sep 15 2003

       That is seriously one cool idea. I guess the splint has been done, but not the boat. I'd buy one, or at least bun one. +
k_sra, Sep 15 2003

       You could experiment using the vacuum matress bent into a boat shape as you evacuated it.
oneoffdave, Sep 15 2003


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