I am the R&D manager, with 22 years of electronics experience, at a Toronto-based printed circuit board fabrication firm. A buddy here at work came to me to look at a hairdryer his wife bought. They had returned three of the same unit over several months, and the store would not replace it again, saying they would have to deal with the manufacturer.
He wanted to find out whether his wife was just abusing the cord by tightly wrapping it up around the unit every time she finished with it. He was convinced his repeatedly ignored assertion that she was causing the cord to break by her abuse had to be verified before he say "I told you so."
I said I would have a look. Sure enough, the cord had a bad section somewhere near the anti-kink device at the base of the handle. After removing the bad section of cord and re-soldering the ends, I noticed that the internal cord restraint/stress relief structure, which was molded into the inside handle, would not accept the cord and the anti-kink device without a great deal of effort.
It was then that I noticed the cord was run through the cord restraint counter-clockwise, which caused the two parts to interfere with each other. This put enormous stress on the cord trapped between the two features. If the cord was fed through in a clockwise direction, there was plenty of room for everything.
The restraint is actually asymmetrical, leaving more room on the right side for the exit of the cord on its way further up the handle to the soldering points. The left side almost touches the anti-kink device’s flanges that secure it in the handle. This leaves almost no room for the cord.
This is a unnecessarily difficult chore for the folks in assembly, to boot. Sadly, the design was fine, but the assembly was executed incorrectly, causing premature failure of the cord. I’ll bet all three of the units were assembled in the same way, ultimately turning a well-thought-out design into a poor product.
This entry was submitted by John Hilyer and edited by Rob Spiegel.
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