Now, some design cases recently I've observed as always - at home. A memory card holder and an electric fan. Nowadays you can barely escape from plastics, everything we use almost certain contains plastics - one form or another. Let us begin with another well executed design first.
A plastic holder made from PP of polypropylene. Very nice, compact and functional. This one comes with my digital camera. It's function is to hold a pair of memory cards, MMC. Lets try to see how such a design took place.
First is surely the design requirements to function. It needs to hold MMC's, must be transparent or a bit see through so that we can see what cards inside, light, very cheap, not easily breaks, the card must be secure enough - not falling down by itself, easy to use etc. These are just wordings, no design concept or design sketching whatsoever.
Now comes the Task. Task comes after function. Tasks are whatever you need in the design in order your design to function properly, still no real design yet at this stage :).
To cut the story short, take one of the design requirement, lets say " easy to use", now let see the 'design' below. What features coming from the 'task' of the holder supporting this requirement?.
There are several, as this 'easy to use' requirement is the most vague and hard to implement. We can see small recesses on both side of the holder. Curved recesses on the sides are for your, say left hand thumb and middle finger. Also on the top where you can pull the card inside using your thumb and index finger...smart eh..?. Last thing you want is to be able to insert a card and can not pull it out....
What else? yup, easy to use often means easy fabrication as well. Hence the two parts, mate both half, press clicks..you're done. Why not one part? well it can but the metal mold will not run very long. Lots of small thin 'cores'. Easy to break with high molten plastic pressure and you production will be ruined.
See small slit and a bulb on the right sides? It is an integrated spring, it task is to push the card to the left wall. This creates enough friction, preventing the card from falling down..another smart design.
Such a simple thing like this are full of hidden smarties, which greatly contributed by systematic thinking in terms of Function and Task. Most of innovations are made by thinking hard this way, rather than 'eureka' thing..., smart!.
Now, a saying that says A Chain is as Strong as the Weakest Link is really well said. Look at this beautiful small electric fan. Same brand as my problem rice cooker. Their products have the bad habit of early broken up..sigh..watch out!.
All the parts, plenty of them laboriously made. The styling is not bad either. The fan cost less that $15, last less than 5 month just because of ..weakest link!. see below.
The weakest link in this case is the transformer wire. It gets hot, even there is thermal protector- the wires are broken somewhere in the winding. So all the labor, effort and resources just wasted. Really? not much though.
Buying this fan keeps the factory workers get their salaries. The seller get profit and can take care of their family. What about I'm throwing this fan in garbage bin then?
Hmmm..there comes the most environmentally friendly job in the world...the Recycling Man!. Yes they live from our garbage, they will sort and pick all the plastics and metals for further recycling. They get money paid for that. To me, the Recycling Man is my Super Man!.
What do you get? Next time you buy new product please don't be surprised. 80% of that product was indeed once your garbage :))
And what did I get? just a lousy transformer bobbin with 30ish gauge enameled copper wire from which I planned to make something like this see below and several hours of Audiophile-foolishness fun :). Thanks to broken fan and Bud Purvine and his DIYAudio postings on ground side electrons..what ever that means..
This is the first time I can relates design stuff with DIY audio thing. Thanks for reading my foolishness.