We have a "builder's grade" GE dishwasher that came with our house when it was built. After upgrading our countertops to a dark color, I decided to paint the front of our white dishwasher black, to match the new countertops. I figured that I'd just remove the metal front fascia and paint it.
When I started to disassemble the thing, I was aghast that the thin metal front was the entire structural support of the door! It was basically the thin outside metal, and a molded plastic interior. Really small, thin pieces of metal at the bottom by the hinge if I recall correctly. I'm amazed that the front of the dishwasher doesn't warp or get damaged in normal use.
Yes, I was able to successfully paint the front and get the unit back together again. Not the best solution since the plastic operator panel up top is still while, but it looks better than it used to.
As a tool buyer/user I recognize there are industrial, commercial and home-owner grades of tools. The dishwashers from GE are obviously of the home-owner grade. The convection ovens used in resturaunts cost big $$ but run continuously for many years. Convection ovens for hosehold use cost probably a tenth of the commercial units and have a life expectancy of 10 years of fairly light use. We really do get what we pay for. I note that there is a lot of high-end and high $$ appliances coming from Europe. One wonders what the target audience these European companies are seeking. Also, what are their margins compared to GE?
"....I do think the most successful manufacturers are the ones that make the best balance between cost and longevity."
OH!, you mean like the perpetually sleeping MAYTAG repairman when it was MAYTAG, and NOT WHIRLPOOL-MAYTAG????????
Someone else in this rant hinted on the problem.... I think that with the almost infinite power of the company's computer system at the hands of the Marketing & "Bean-Counter" depts., they look at the statistics of every minute detail of design, and shave wherever & whenever it can be done.
One MUST constantly remind oneself when screaming at a faulted appliance OR, for that matter, any other piece of merchandise, "the ONLY real goal of any for-profit corporation is to make a realizable monetary return to their investors. EVERYTHING else is secondary!!!!!
I am not necessarily just blaming the designers, but the company as a whole. Yes the way I put it does direct more at the designers and you are corect that the project has a lot more input than just the engineers; however, I have butted heads with management and customers alike on projects where what they want is not right and for the most part, I win. So from an engineer point of view (my point of view) I put most of the blame on the engineers for not refusing to allow such a poor design to be produced. That said though, the blame does go to the whole company and is just one of the "applicance driven" reasons I will never again purchase an appliance made by GE.
As for the requirements, I don't think my toddler was up to 35 pounds yet, that number was introduced by someone else commenting, however, the addition of two strips of aluminum angle, held to the hinges by the mounting screws (as opposed to being a solid extension of the hinge metal) easily extended the doors' capacity to handle that toddler and a few more after!
I agree that the toddler test may not be fair or appropriate, and the child's weight--35 pounds--is nothing to sniff at. But designing a door that must be opened and closed hundreds of times during its lifetime without a frame and with inadequate hinges sounds like a very cheap approach to what's not at all a cheap-looking model. Yet another line of appliances to avoid, and also a good fix.
Can't blame the designers. Most projects are prioritized with three criteria: factory cost, schedule and performance. Management chooses the order for each project. If either factory cost or schedule came ahead of performance you can bet the mechanical designer was ordered to cut corners.
Another scenario where the designer was left out is when original designs are outsourced and the contract manufacturer is judged on cost. Designs are changed to accomodate local suppliers and their capabilities and part selection is based on cost, not performance.
I've spent a career re-designing and repairing things that probably could have been designed better. I've had heated discussions with engineers from all walks about the benefit of strengthening a part and the common answer is to question how much money should a manufacturer spend to correct a 0.2% problem? I think that the current crop of repairmen have great difficulty getting paid their hourly wage by making unauthorized repairs which switch the warranty costs from the manufacturer to them. A great many actually do make these repairs and their customers are happy to pay whatever it takes to own a product that is dependable. Though I've never seen a design that couldn't stand some form of improvement, I do think the most successful manufacturers are the ones that make the best balance between cost and longevity.
@mattd: 30 years ago they were teaching their engineers to get the same function at lower cost. I remember an exercise where we looked at the dual solenoid valve (hot and cold water) for a clothes washer. IIRC we took out 2 then 3 of 4 (5?) screws that held a plastic body to a metal plate. (Sadly, this was all on paper; no actual parts were harmed in the training of us entry-level EE's & ME's back then.)
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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.