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Killer Throwback 1960s Car Renderings by Geza Loczi

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

Whether you're specifically into auto design or not, if you aren't already following them you should definitely check out GM Design Center's Instagram. The company has steadily been posting everything from interior and exterior renderings to CMF studies, cabin mockups, clay models and archival images going all the way back to the 1930s. I think they've really nailed the mix of futuristic, current-day and retro.

On that latter note, I found the images in this post particularly eye-catching:

There's a short write-up on Loczi, as well as another 46 of his older renderings, up on Dean's Garage.

A Design Update on the Milk Crate: SidioCrates Feature Increased Utility

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

If you need basic, standard-issue milk crates, there's a cheap source right here. But a company called SidioCrate is betting there's a market for an upgraded design that will offer more utility.

The company has kept the best parts of a rectangular milk crate: Sturdy ribs and handles, straight walls, stackability.

They then added molded channels to the inside of the walls. This allows dividers they've designed to be slid inside at a position of the user's choosing.

They've also created a welcome addition with snap-in lids, which retain the stackability function and are flush with the outside of the crate, allowing you to butt them up against each other side-by-side.

They also offer fitted mats for the bottom, for applications where you don't want small pieces escaping (or entering) through the grated floor.

All of these extra features add cost, of course. While MilkCratesDirect.com charges just $10 for a standard rectangular milk crate, SidioCrate's variant costs double, at $20. Add the bundle of lid, bottom mat and two dividers and the price jumps up to $40.

Still, for those who want to get organized and have more cash than DIY time, SidioCrates might be an attractive alternative.

Need Milk Crates? Get 'Em Cheap (and Legally) by Ordering Directly From the Manufacturer

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

Milk crates have to be one of the most universally useful industrially-produced objects out there.

For some reason, at least when I was younger it seemed socially acceptable to steal them. But these days the International Dairy Foods Association takes milk crate theft seriously, calling it "a pervasive and costly problem for the dairy industry" that leads to annual losses in the tens of millions. Current laws have accordingly been beefed up, and if you get pinched lifting milk crates, you're likely to catch a fine or worse.

If you need milk crates for your shop, home or business, consider acquiring them lawfully. If you're in America, you can order them directly from domestic manufactures like FarmPlast, an injection molding operation in New Jersey that sells them for reasonable prices, with multiple coloring and branding options, and can produce them from either virgin or recycled plastic, according to the customer's wishes. The company sells them through their website, MilkCratesDirect.com.

"Our customers range from creators of innovative furniture to those in industry who manufacture items en masse," the company writes. "Matching this versatility is the sheer range of colors and sizes of the milk crates we stock – spanning black, gray, red, blue, yellow, violet and brown which are for both rectangular crates and our square crates. Our rectangular crates measure 18.75" x 13" x 11" while our more compact square crates measure 13" x 13" x 11"."

The rectangular models hold 24 quarts and start at $10 each, while the square ones hold 16 quarts and start at $7, and the prices go down if you buy in bulk. "Our pricing for a full trailer of our milk crates is guaranteed to be the absolute lowest price on the market," the company says.

Here's a look at their operation:

Check out FarmPlast's options here.

Footage of DARPA Successfully Using Air-Launched Confetti Streamers to Disable a Drone

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

As rotor-based drones continue to be weaponized, particularly in swarm forms, military and police organizations will need a way to knock them out of the sky. In April we saw energy products company Epirus showing off their anti-drone microwave zapper:

DARPA's Mobile Force Protection program has taken a different approach. It appears they watched that rave video from 2017…

…because they actually did design a confetti-streamer-based system of knocking out drones. This week they published a video of their successful test conducted at Eglin Air Force Base:

"The primary drone negation mechanism shoots strong, stringy streamers from reusable interceptors that foul propellers causing loss of propulsion," DARPA explains.

The interceptor unit used to carry the confetti up to the sky is probably an expensive piece of kit, though the confetti itself is presumably cheap. And another benefit is that the streamers fall to the ground harmlessly. This is part of DARPA's aim to develop anti-drone systems "that could be employed in and around civilian areas," they write.

Ready to party

They have not yet solved the problem of what to do if drone weaponizers modify them to detonate a charge upon ground impact.

Alexandra Gerber's Up Shelving System Features Sliding, Infinitely-Adjustable Metal Shelves

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

Adjustable shelves usually feature holes and pins, but with London-based industrial designer Alexandra Gerber's Up shelving system, "the shelves simply drop into a groove and lock in place with a quick release-lock," she writes. The shelves can then "be moved up and down at any time by releasing the lock, and without affecting the other shelves, and retain a smooth and parallel movement."

Both the shelves and sides are made from the same aluminum extrusions, while "the joints borrow technologies usually applied to window construction," according to this short Q&A with Gerber.

I'm curious to see how the wider shelves hold up; is the extrusion sturdy enough to not sag under heavy books?

You can see more of Gerber's work here.

Camille Blin's Manually-Dimmable Gradient Lamps

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

Swiss product designer Camille Blin's Gradient Lamps feature a physical, manually-operated dimmer.

"The silkscreened disks," Blin writes, "can be rotated in front of the light bulbs to modify the intensity."

See more of Blin's work here, and/or check out his Instagram.

Not Only Do Plexi Sheets Not Stop COVID Transmission, They Might Increase It

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

Turns out those sneeze guards that seemingly every business installed last year don't actually prevent COVID transmission. Now that both the CDC and the WHO have confirmed that the virus spreads through aerosols, i.e. particles that float around and can easily pass over or around barriers, it seems all those sheets are protecting people from is spittle.

Image source: Marc Jones

"Especially when we use it in offices or in schools specifically, plexiglass does not help," building scientist Marwa Zaatari, a pandemic task force member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, told Bloomberg. (Story picked up here by Crain's New York Business.) "If you have plexiglass, you're still breathing the same shared air of another person" in the room.

Image source: Mims

And, it turns out, the sneeze guards might actually make things worse:

"An April study published by the journal Science suggested that desk shields might even slightly raise the risk of Covid-like symptoms. And a prepublication paper from Japan late last month linked plastic shielding with infections in a poorly ventilated office."Such studies raise the ironic possibility that when venues install too much plastic and thus impede ventilation, they could be raising the very risk they're trying to reduce."

Image source: Village of Richfield

Despite this new data I'm sure businesses will leave them up for the time being, for theatrical reasons. But I suspect in a year or so, we'll start seeing design competitions for what you can make using a glut of discarded Plexi sheets.

Smart Design for Garage Lighting: One Light Bulb Socket, Five Distributed Lights, No Wiring Needed

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

This Multi-Point Illumination system is designed for rooms with just a single overhead light socket, like a garage.

It consists of a central hub that screws into the socket, and four satellites that can be mounted up to nine feet away from the hub.

The satellites are hard-wired to the hub, so there's no wiring necessary; and because all of the fixtures are circular, you simply rotate them to wind up any excess cable.

While you might not want to see the exposed wires in an interior room, I think it's acceptable in a garage, and you can't beat the convenience of installation. The result is five LED fixtures putting out 7,500 lumens, and you didn't have to call an electrician.

The MPI system runs $200. Demonstration below:

Clever Bridge Design Lets Horses Pulling a Barge Cross the Canal Without Untying Them

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

Back when canals were the easiest way to move cargo, horses provided the motive power for the cargo-laden barges. These horses walked along an established towpath alongside the canal, pulling the barges by rope. Due to geography and logistics, sometimes the towpath had to switch from one side of the canal to the other. A simple bridge would suffice to get the horses to the other side, but the barge would then have to be temporarily moored while the ropes to the horses were unfastened so that they could cross the bridge, then everything would have to be hitched up again.

Well, some clever individual(s) figured out a way to design a bridge that would allow horses to cross it while remaining tethered to the barges the entire time. This design was called a roving/change-line/turnover/snake bridge, and it looked like this:

Macclesfield Canal, east Cheshire, England

Note that the railings are rounded, so as to prevent the ropes from snagging on edges. That appears to be a consistent design feature, as seen on this second bridge along the same canal:

Macclesfield Canal, east Cheshire, England

You just know the person who came up with this couldn't describe the concept to others well, and everyone thought s/he was crazy, but the person somehow got the bridge built, and the first time people saw it in action they were like "Well I'll be damned."


Razer Lends Their Industrial Design Team Out to Clearbot to Design Trash-Collecting Marine Drone

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

I think of gaming hardware company Razer as, well, a gaming hardware company. So I was surprised to learn that they've not only established a $50 million venture capital fund for sustainability-focused startups, but have also lent their industrial design team and engineering team out to at least one of them: Clearbot, a Hong-Kong-based organization developing solutions to rid waterways of trash. "We love using our expertise to support game-changing startups and their push for sustainability," says Charlie Bolton, Razer's Director of Industrial Design.

Clearbot has been working on a solar-powered autonomous marine drone that hoovers up waterborne trash like a floating Roomba. Their prototype works, but I guess it doesn't look like the type of object investors like to fund:

Razer's ID team sexified Clearbot's creation "with a design that's more efficient, marketable and scalable:"

You can support Clearbot's mission here, and you can support Razer's mission to support Clearbot's mission by, like, buying one of these.

Ziggy Moto's Custom Motorcycle with a Streamline Moderne Front End

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

A UK-based custom motorcycle builder who goes by the handle Ziggy Moto has designed this unusual one-off, which looks something like a Ducati that crashed through Raymond Loewy's studio and burst through the other side looking like this:

The concept was reportedly designed for, or perhaps in collaboration with, fellow bike designer/builder Anthony Partridge of "Goblin Works Garage," the Discovery TV show following a group of custom bike and car builders. British fabrication firm Olliminium is also reportedly involved, but at this point details are light.

This Cleaning Machine Uses Microbes to Turn Dirty Oil, Grease Into Harmless Water and CO2

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

If you're doing any kind of mechanical work, a parts washer (and on a smaller scale, an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner) is a handy thing to have. But once you remove your now-grease-free part, you're left with a sloppy sludge of solvents in the tank that can't just be poured down the sink. You've got to dispose of the toxic mess, which is both laborious and ultimately bad for the environment, since the stuff has to go somewhere. For professional shops, it's also a line item on the balance sheet, as they typically have to contract with a hazardous waste company to take the stuff away.

A company called CRC (Corrosion Reaction Consultants) Industries has developed a green parts washer that cleans parts without leaving any chemicals behind. Their Smartwasher uses a process called bioremediation, whereby microbes break the oil and grease down into CO2 and water. You do need to use the company's OzzyJuice Cleaning Fluid as the solvent, but it can be reused again and again; the microbes clean the fluid before it flows back into the tank.

Here's how it works, on a chemical level:

1. Oil contaminants enter the solution as parts are washed.

2. Surfactant in OzzyJuice® solution emulsify the oils.

3. Emulsified oil is eaten by the Ozzy® microbe.

4. Oil is converted into water and carbon dioxide.

Here's what it's like to actually use the system, and I've gotta say the UX looks pretty good:

The company manufactures different sizes and shapes of Smartwasher, including portable units, to fit into a variety of shop situations.

You can learn more about the Smartwasher system here.

A Hilariously Tiny Mini Excavator

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

Here's something your neighbor would mock you for owning…but would probably ask to borrow a week later:

That's the Komatsu PC01-1 Mini Excavator. Puts out 3.5 horsepower, weighs about 840 pounds, and can dig to a maximum depth of 3.5 feet. According to Komatsu it's designed for general construction, gardening and pipe-laying in confined spaces.

Unsurprisingly, they don't sell the PC01 series in America. Yankees who want to get in at the ground level of Komatsu diggers have to start with the 6,500-pound, 24-horsepower PC30MR-5 (below)...and even with one of those you're going to get some judgmental head-shakes.

Smart Design for Gym Rats: A Convenient, Sealable Funnel for Storing and Pouring Protein Powder

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

While I'm not part of this demographic, I can appreciate the design. This funnel by plastic organizer manufacturer Wowhouse is designed for protein-powder-mixing gym rats who make their shakes on-the-go, and don't want to spill powder all over the place. And it's available in different configurations.

I would probably try to DIY one by cutting the top off of a two-liter bottle, but I'd eventually admit that the threaded cap makes the Wowhouse offering better.

The Ford Maverick's "Flexbed" is Designed to Enable DIY

Core 77 - Fri, 2021-06-11 20:23

Ikeahacking has got nothing on pickup truck bed hacking. Out here in truck country you can see all manner of jury-rigged racks, rigs, tailgates, DIY service bodies and I've even seen two trucks with beds made completely out of dimensional lumber.

Ford's designers know all of this; in fact they were tasked with studying what the DIY crowd routinely does to factory beds. Ford doesn't necessarily want you drilling into the sheet metal or futzing with the wiring, but they've accepted that bed-hacking is going to happen, and thus have designed in features on their new Maverick's "Flexbed" to let end users get the customization they want without voiding the warranty—or spending a ton of cash on factory extras. The target Maverick customer has "passions and hobbies they love and would rather spend money on the mountain bike, not necessarily the bike rack to get it to the mountains," Ford has concluded.

"The whole bed is a DIY fan's paradise," says Keith Daugherty, an engineering specialist who helped develop the truck box for Maverick. "You can buy the bolt-in Ford cargo management system and we're happy to sell it to you, but if you're a bit more creative, you can also just go to the hardware store and get some C-channel and bolt it to the bed to make your own solutions."

For the task of supporting DIY electrical projects, electrical engineer Gaby Grajales helped develop standard built-in 12-volt electrical power prewired to an easily removable cover on either side of the back of the bed. "People have forever been hacking into their wiring harness to run things like lighting, air pumps and other useful accessories," says Grajales. "This is a better solution – we're enabling customer needs while protecting the taillamp wiring and creating a fused circuit to avoid compromising the overall electrical system. With this, you have the option to select the factory-available box lighting or install your own home-built lighting setup, or even invent a whole new use for the 12-volt access points."

Then there are simple, practical considerations: The design team ensured a 5th percentile female—hardly the demographic most trucks seem designed for—could easily reach over the sidewalls to access the bed.

And while a sheet of plywood can fit between the bed walls if it rests on the wheel wells, wouldn't it be better if the sheet was also supported at the back, where it sticks out? Thus they came up with a tailgate whose angle can be adjusted and locked into place, providing support for longer items.

They've also expanded the number of slots you'll find in the sides of most pickup beds, allowing end users to create quick racks and dividers using dimensional lumber.

At the bottom of this entry is a video giving you a rare look at Ford's pickup truck bed design process, where the designers built a mock-up of the bed and started experimenting with features derived from customer feedback.

It looks like it was a fun project:

Want a Career Jumpstart? Try the SWE's Advance Learning Center

Design News - Fri, 2021-06-11 06:46
The Society of Women Engineer’s Advance Learning Center 2.0 has a range of activities that can help women move forward with their engineering careers.

Flowmeters in the Cloud and Roller Screws on Mars? Nice Supplier News

Design News - Fri, 2021-06-11 06:39
This week’s products include a robot guidance system, heavy-duty bearings, and embedded IoT.

Challenged by Product Design? Check Out These Wins to Gain Inspiration

Design News - Thu, 2021-06-10 21:13
Submittals for the European Product Design Awards is fast approaching. Will you enter?

Friday Funny: Want to See Weird? This Robot Snakes into Strange Places

Design News - Thu, 2021-06-10 20:30
This inflatable robot can move into unusual spaces, perhaps even saving lives.

The New Ford Maverick: A $20,000 Compact Hybrid Pickup Truck That Gets 40 MPG

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-06-10 19:58

Ford has announced the Maverick, a tidily-designed compact pickup truck that appears set to reignite that market. While trucks have steadily gotten bigger and more bloated, Ford is betting—accurately, I believe—that there are plenty of folks who'd like the convenience of hauling stuff in an open bed, but don't need the monster-sized, gas-guzzling vehicle that comes with it.

Three shocking figures attached to the vehicle are the starting price of $19,995; the projected city mileage of 40 MPG; and the 500-mile range on a single tank of gas. The latter two figures are achieved by means of a hybrid powerplant (a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and an electric motor); the low price is partially the result of the vehicle's reduced size and materials usage, I imagine, and the fact that it's front-wheel drive. (Those who want all-wheel drive will have to step up to a 2-liter gas engine, for which mileage figures have not been released.)

I think the Maverick is a smart move on Ford's part. I don't think it will cannibalize their existing full- and mid-size pickup market, as there are no shortage of Americans who feel they need a gigantic vehicle. The Maverick can carry five and is designed for "people who never knew they wanted a truck," according to the company, who adds it's "built for makers and doers." And it seems they've focused heavily on the UX for the interior:

"Creating clever storage and useful features fell to Daniel George, interior leader, who calls Maverick 'the ultimate first vehicle for my kids.'

"What's key, he said, was understanding how people actually use the stuff they bring in, rather than just expecting them to find places to stash it.

"Door armrests have a split design to allow a one-liter water bottle to sit upright in a bin rather than rolling around on the seats, while door pockets are huge and have lots of vertical clearance to store a tablet or notebooks.

"There's a spacious storage bin under the rear seats that fits a fully inflated volleyball, laptop bags, roller blades, tools and other gear.

"FITS – Ford Integrated Tether System – is a clever multitasking solution for rear seat passengers. There's a FITS slot at the back of the front console that accommodates different accessories for endless personalization. An available accessory package includes cupholders, a storage or trash bin, cord organizer, double hook for grocery bags and purses, and under-seat storage dividers. More FITS slot creations are in development and Ford is working to publish the slot geometry so people can 3D-print DIY solutions to further fit their lifestyle.

"Those accessories can be stored in multiple slots under the rear seats, which could also be used for novel applications on their own.

In the graphic below, which shows the Maverick's size relative to the other trucks in Ford's lineup, you can see that it looks as easy to climb into as a car:

The box seems positively tiny at 4.5 feet in length, but there is a ton of design that went into it. Enough that the bed is actually getting its own entry, up next.

The Maverick will hit the streets this fall.