Engineers at several automotive, aerospace, and marine manufacturers are apparently so interested in a new vibration-proof fastener that they demanded it before it was priced. That may seem like the kind of problem every company would love to have, but it can still cause blood pressure to rise. Permanent Technologies Inc. spent 11 years developing the fastener, a one-way nut-and-bolt combination that locks the nut and bolt at a predetermined position. Then the company spent a lot of effort to overcome the challenges that new companies often face, such as lack of recognition and doubts about the product. Part of the strategy was a modified show-and-tell: They sent samples for engineers to play with. Boy did that work—a little too well, in fact. Company President Loren Ball says the orders have been flying in faster than the cost estimates they have been getting from the contract manufacturers who will make the fastener. Not to worry, though: Ball says pricing is now in place. He's ready to ship.
A few weeks ago, Ford Motor Co. quietly announced that it was rolling out a new wrinkle to the powerful safety feature called stability control, adding even more lifesaving potential to a technology that has already been very successful.
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
People who want to take advantage of solar energy in their homes no longer need to install a bolt-on solar-panel system atop their houses -- they can integrate solar-energy-harvesting shingles directing into an existing or new roof instead.
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