“Once the world starts to grasp it… once I crack that egg, everybody will want it,” Stephen Souders says of his revolutionary seatbelt-cutting device, The Cut N Go, which he prototyped with ProtoCAM’s¹ help. Having created the only locked-on, self-enclosed, manually guided, childproof seatbelt-cutting device and window breaker available, Souders has a vision to someday have the device in every car right off the factory floor.
The idea for The Cut N Go came to Souders while watching the news one evening. “I saw a police officer going to get two people out of a car, and it just came to me… and I thought of a logo for it that day. I sat down that day and drew it out on my dining room table,” he says. Souders developed his product prototype soon after an amalgamation of a wine box, bamboo skewers, Styrofoam, and even a blade.
Research and Development
Inspired, Souders researched what currently available products and how he could improve them. He found that all the seatbelt cutters available weren’t practical because there was no way to have them ready when you needed them; they all needed to be stored in a glove box or similar location in the car. “There are hundreds of seatbelt cutters out there, but no one has them because where are you going to put them? They all have exposed blades,” Souders says. His solution was to have The Cut N Go lock onto the seatbelt at installation and stay there, ready for when you need it, while being subtle and light enough not to hinder the belt’s safety.
Souders also designed The Cut N Go with a carbide tip to break through a window and allow for escape during an accident. “When I went out and tried the other [window breakers] out there, I realized they weren’t pointy enough, and you were shoving your arm through the window instead of just breaking it,” Souders recalls. Determined to optimize this aspect of the device, Souders designed his custom tip for the device, which is sharper than others on the market but is concealed inside the device until it is needed.
Connecting with ProtoCAM
With a set design in mind, Souders was guided by ProtoCAM colleague Chris Albright of It’s All Bright to connect with ProtoCAM to develop a practical prototype. With his original wine box prototype, Souders worked with ProtoCAM’s team of engineers to further refine his idea. “It was fantastic. They did a great job, made my products when I needed them, and were right on top of everything,” Souders says of his experience with ProtoCAM. “They had great ideas for it, and I loved all the pieces. And the very first [prototype] I had made there worked!”
Bringing the Product to Market
Souders has thought of everything for this innovative product: the lock-on feature; the carbide tip; a coating on the stainless steel blade that will prevent degradation from salt water and humidity; regular product testing; a sticker to indicate that the car is Cut N Go-equipped; manual guidance so that the product can be pushed or pulled with the device open as little as ½ an inch; and a lifetime replacement program designed to learn better how people deal with crises in their car, which he hopes to use to improve his product. Many of these product features resulted from simply talking with his customer base and doing thorough research to develop his development into the best available.
Souders looks forward to continuing to promote this project at events and marketing to individual companies. He foresees insurance companies eventually offering discounts to those with a Cut N Go-equipped car. While he hopes that no one is ever in a situation to need his product, he wants to see the device installed in every vehicle, just in case. “The one thing that people should understand is you may never need it, but if you do, you better hope you have it…there are no second chances. It gives you peace of mind because you know it’s there.”
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