Thanks for the comments naperlou, tekochip. Funny thing is that I'd be more than happy to spend the money to get a good product, rather than having to buy frequent replacements. But this option doesn't seem to be available in most consumer items. You can still buy some good tools (if you look hard enough) and I seem to be able to get good astronomy equipment. The price is high, but so is the quality.
Absolutely true, much of the blame rests on consumers that decide which product to buy based solely upon the cost rather than the quality. If customers looked on the the WALL of their local MART and decided that they wanted a product because it was built to last rather than the cheapest one they could find then corporate management would demand that the suppliers build that product. The big box stores are so big that they tell their suppliers what to build, how much it will cost and the profit the supplier is allowed to make. The big box store demands to see the product Bill Of Materials and then tells the supplier how much profit they will be allowed to make, very often the first year of production is required to be for break even money. They even demand to see the die area of semiconductors and base the cost of the semiconductor purely on the size of the die.
The problem you are experiencing is driven to a large part by the large retailers and partly by consumers. The products are built to a price. What that ends up meaning is that the products are made overseas. That is why I get really upset when I see articles wondering if US workers cvan handle the manufacturing that "coming back". This is crazy. Who do you think is doing the manufacturing in Asia??? These are peasants from the countryside that just before they became a manufacturing force were working farm plots by hand. Don't get me started...
But really, it comes back to the consumer. One time I was going hunting and much of my stuff was at another location. I needed a knife for dressing out the game. I went to the large retailer, which was the only store in the area, and the only stuff they had was cheap junk. I bought one anyway, but later threw it away. It's a good thing I did not get anything that weekend.
That said, I know manufacturers who deal with those large retailers and it is the case that they determine what price they want to sell each item at and the manufacturers have to comply. Since they are so large, they drive the train and the manufacturers comply.
I remember the tools and appliances you talk about, Eric, and they do make a difference. I still have a ratchet wrench from a large tool brand that my father made when he worked in a drop forge. It is still going strong and it is much older than I am.
Festo's BionicKangaroo combines pneumatic and electrical drive technology, plus very precise controls and condition monitoring. Like a real kangaroo, the BionicKangaroo robot harvests the kinetic energy of each takeoff and immediately uses it to power the next jump.
Design News and Digi-Key presents: Creating & Testing Your First RTOS Application Using MQX, a crash course that will look at defining a project, selecting a target processor, blocking code, defining tasks, completing code, and debugging.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.