By William M. Grissom, Engineering Specialist
The microwave in the company lunch room confiscated my lunch. The door wouldn’t pop open when I pushed the lever. Since I was hungry, I had to disassemble the unit to recover my food. Since there was no approved charge # for this activity, it was one my own time. I found that the large lever pivoted on a thin plastic shaft that was supported on only one end. Was it hard to expect this shaft would break? It was a Sanyo EM-W3000W, manufactured in November 2003 in China. While tempting to blame the Chinese, it was likely designed in Japan unless they promoted themselves to just marketing genius, as most American companies seem to have done.
Dustin Hoffman would be amazed what one can do with plastic today. No need for metal shafts anymore. A similar failure occurred on my 2001 Whirlpool side-by-side refrigerator. I think that brand maps to one of the ~3 actual appliance manufacturers left in the world. The water/ice dispenser lever pushes on a micro-switch that was supported by a thin plastic shaft supported on only one end. Amazing that the shaft bent too far and broke, disabling the switch and dispenser. I fixed it with an old-fashioned metal bolt and nut. I wonder if a plastics extrusion expert was giving seminars those years showing how one could design shafts attached at a single end, at no added cost.