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The most useful stories of the year

The most useful stories of the year

Pity the poor fastener. Puny, pointy, unglamorous, they capture no one's imagination. Right?


Fasteners are critical to many designs, as our readers know. And that's probably why readers picked a story on a new fastener as the most useful story in the magazine in 1998.

In each issue of the year, we ask readers to tell us which stories are the most useful to them. Of all the stories that ran through September 1998, the most useful was "Hollow screw simplifies assembly of...anything."

Senior Editor Charles J. Murray wrote the story about the Superscrew, an invention by Ian Royale, of Technology Transfer International. The design eliminates the need to push the screw into place because it has no traditional slotted head. The Superscrew consists of a hollow cylindrical body with lobes on the inside of the cylinder. Users insert a screwdriver into the cylinder and turn it. The splines on the screwdriver contact the lobes and turn the screw. See the March 2, 1998 issue for full details.

Royale won a Design News Excellence in Design award for his concept. And, at the 1998 National Design Engineering Show, he won attention from the likes of Ford, Boeing, Hughes Electronics, and other companies, who expressed interest in the Superscrew.

Other top stories in terms of usefulness, according to readers, were: "The ultimate human-powered radio (on how a hand-wound spring transforms human energy into electricity, June 22 issue); "A non-acoustic hearing aid?" (on how a floating mass transducer bypasses the eardrum to stimulate the middle ear, March 2 issue); "Will fuel cells power an automotive revolution?" (an update on that exciting technology, June 22); "Shocker of an idea," (on the role of materials in design of a new rear suspension for mountain bikes, April 6 issue); and "Raise the Titanic" (on the hydraulics technology that made the movie such a blockbuster, January 19 issue).

Check out those stories on our web site,, and let us know how useful you think they were. And tell us of other topics that you would find useful. We'll do our best to cover them.

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