Fork over your engineering changes

While drafting boards and vellum are either a distant memory or a perplexing Wikipedia look-up for the younger set, most engineers are still handling design changes like chain smoking and leaded gasoline are still all the rage. Read more

How should engineers work with graphic designers?

Engineers are an analytical bunch. Function always comes before form. Take street signs, for example. Virtually all of these signs were written in all capital letters. This didn't change until recently - when research proved that that a combination of uppercase and lowercase characters is easier for the elderly to read. Now, signs are being replaced with the easier to read text. The engineers at the Federal Highway Administration didn’t make the decision to switch to a more attractive type until someone provided research that proves that it’s easier to read. Read more

Can’t beam me the part? Ok, how about just the 3D printing instructions?

Need a part half way across the country or on the other side of the globe? In the past your only option was probably to make the part and ship it. Or perhaps find a local contract manufacturer, send them the design and manufacturing information, and have them make it for you. In the future, of course, you will simply make it and “beam” it to them using your transport (a la Star Trek - thank you, Scotty). Read more

Making desktop 3D printing more user-friendly

Fused Deposition Modeling still reigns supreme in the desktop fabrication market. While FDM continues to expand in function, flexibility, and filament variety, there’s still an adoption gap – a disconnect that needs to be solved if 3D printers are to invade every household. Read more

ECOs are stupid II: The price of unincorporated change

The venerable Engineering Change Order (ECO) has certainly had its day in the opulent halls of classical change management, but thanks to technology, ECOs might very well be on the path to extinction. Last time we mentioned that ECOs are slow and stupid, we emphasized that reducing overall ECO cost involves more than just reducing avoidable change. The second half of that battle involves the change process itself, evolving it to be both more agile and effective. Protip: It’s all about addressing the weaknesses of unincorporated change. Read more

Project spotlight: GravityLight

GravityLight is an innovative off-grid light designed to eliminate dangerous and polluting kerosene lamps, used by over 1.3 billion people who don’t have access to electricity. It has created a new category of lighting, doesn’t have any batteries, nor does it need sunlight - all you need is a weight. This means it’s a very promising solution for emergency relief and disaster preparedness too, as it can be stored for long periods of time and can be used anytime, whatever the weather. I talked to one of the co-founders, Jim Reeves, to reveal a bit the background of their story. Read more

Is sustainable 3D printing real or imagined?

Pandas may be cute, but they sure are stupid. 3D Printing often gets championed as a game changing technology, the salvation of everything, from bringing manufacturing back into high wage economies to stimulating innovation and making the next generation of Jonny Ives and Brunel wannabes. To my knowledge, no one has yet claimed that 3D Printing can be used to help the panda’s reproductive shortcomings. But it’s only a matter of time. Read more

Design for Assembly: taunting from the manufacturing floor

When it comes to design, sometimes what works in the uninhibited realm of solid modeling (where just about anything is possible) doesn’t make a bit of sense in the real world. A good design engineer knows this from experience. A bad design engineer may be lacking that same experience and may be in need of some hard feedback in order to improve. While you could pore over Powerpoint error count metrics and root cause analyses to systematically highlight specific design deficiencies, there’s a far simpler way: a good old-fashioned hasslin’ from “Bulldog.” Read more