Here is a comment received by Geoffrey Orsak from an avid reader of his Design News column:
Your latest column entitled "From Treasure to Trash" hit a chord with me because last week I had an LCD monitor go out on my work computer system. Being an engineer I took it apart and found that the screen itself was the problem. Quickly I determined that I could replace the whole monitor a lot cheaper than fix the old one. What bothered me is how much perfectly good product I had to throw away as I lowered the old monitor into the e-waste dumpster. The stand and the mechanism that adjusted the height and swiveled and tilted was perfect and a really robust design. In fact everything but the failed component could have performed for many years to come. It is great that more companies are recycling their electronic waste but it still takes a lot of energy to create something that only lasts a few years.
Just like your article suggests, there should be value going forward in our society to engineer for the afterlife of a product. If the most likely to fail part of any product could be removed and replaced easily and inexpensively wouldn't it be great. We do it on some products like automobiles, light fixtures, and sponge mops. I think it's time we started making longer life electronic gadgets instead of "throwing away the baby with the bath water."
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.