@Ann- LOL, shame on you for not switching hats from Engineering to Sales/Mktg ! The tape is a major breakthrough because it does not need to have sides identified. Both sides of the tape have equal conductivity. This saves a lot of time, labor, and chance for error on the production floor. :)
Sounds like something that worked fine in the lab but was never tested under actual production conditions, e.g. winding onto a large roll. Plastic stretches; metal films don't.
It's surprising how little stretching is required to make metal coatings break--I had a fair amount of frustrating experience making thermal imagers out of metallized PVDF film before I switched to carbon-loaded ink. That stuff was stretchy enough to take a hard crease, and conductive enough for the job. (There's a war story at http://electrooptical.net/www/footprints/fpwaropn.pdf, and a bit more discussion at http://electrooptical.net#footprints.)
It sounds to me like quality is reporting to the wrong person. From the top down, if quality is reporting to operations they will be forced to push it through rather than slow down or stop production making them do it right. The goal of quality has to be quality and quality only. And they should report through a different chain of command all the way to the top. That way the big guy can tell quality to focus on quality and operations to focus on making good products.
Funny how often the products we put out are dictated by the system that we choose to function in and the directions we are given from the top down.
I'm guessing there is no quality control within the manufacturing process. And for something like this, which could be used as a safety device, I would think the manufacturer would have to have some on-line testing to prove the product is capable of delivering on the specifications.
I find this story interesting as well as your reply. It sounds to me like the design system was broken. In some companies the lines and definitions on what people are supposed to deliver are so blurry that things get overlooked. Never quite so big a thing as this. but still, how often does quality put on their engineering hat and start to solve the engineering problem rather than validating the design. How often do engineers start talking to vendors because, it's just easier and then I don't have to deal with purchasing.
Great example here of what not to do. But I think the focus on corrections has to go back to the system and how it failed.
Friends of mine, who worked in quality control, said they were always under pressure to push the stuff out the door. Flagging bad products impeded productivity. It would be up to the customer to notice any problem and chances are they would not.
I'd be listening to this with my jaw sagging at the thought this behavior might be typical.
Years later I was upgrading memory in a computer and found that while the computer had worked for several years (expiring the warranty) that it could not work with the higher density memory that the specifications said it could. Obviously it had not been tested, but they were still able to kick it out the door and make money with it.
One place I worked I later learned typically quoted capabilities about twice what the product was capable of. Silly me, I had performed some time/motion studies on one system I had installed and estimated it could work at twice the current speed. The Salesman shushed me when I told him my results because they had sold the system quoting twice that rate. That behavior finally came back to bite them when a client said, "Show me." before they would sign off on the final payment. I calculated the system could never achieve the contracted rates. But the blame was placed on our department, rather than the salesman.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
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