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5 Challenges Developers Face When Using an RTOS

Design News - Fri, 2017-06-23 02:35

Real-time Operating Systems (RTOS) are becoming a necessary component that most embedded software developers need to use in their applications. Developers who were once traditional bare-metal developers are starting to transition to using an RTOS as their microcontrollers move to 32-bit architectures and as their devices are starting to connect to the Internet. Whether you are just starting to use an RTOS or have been for years, there are several challenges that developers face when using an RTOS.

 

Challenge #1 – Deciding When to Use an RTOS

The first and foremost challenge that bare-metal developers face is deciding when to use an RTOS. The fact is, there is a lot that can be done by developers to emulate preemptive scheduling before needing to make the switch. So, what are a few key indicators that an RTOS is the right way to go? Below are several questions a developer should consider:

  • Does the application include a connectivity stack such as USB, WiFi, TCP/IP, etc.?
  • Will the systems time management be simplified by using an RTOS?
  • Will application management and maintenance be improved if an RTOS is used?
  • Is deterministic behavior needed?
  • Do program tasks need the ability to preempt each other?
  • Does the MCU have at least 32 kB of code space and 4 kB of RAM?

If the answer to most of these questions is yes, then odds are using an RTOS will help simplify application development.

 

Challenge #2 – Setting Task Priorities

Selecting task priorities can be a challenge. Which task should have the highest priority? The next highest? Can the tasks even be scheduled? These are the questions that often come into the minds of developers working with an RTOS. I’ve seen quite a few developers who simply appear to randomly assign priorities based on how important they feel the task is. Selecting priorities in this manner is a recipe for disaster. Developers should start by using rate monotonic scheduling to get a general feel for whether their periodic tasks can be scheduled successfully. RMS assumes that tasks are periodic and don’t interact with each other so it only serves as a starting point but can get developers 80% of the way to the finish line. After that, developers can use trace tools to observe how their system behaves and make fine tuned adjustments.

 

Challenge #3 – Debugging

Debugging an embedded system is a major challenge. Developers can spend anywhere from 20% - 80% of their development cycle debugging their application code with averages typically being around 40%. That is a lot of time spent debugging. Using an RTOS can complicate debugging. RTOSes can introduce problems such as priority inversion, dead-lock, and task jitter to name just a few. Developers who are new to using an RTOS probably don’t realize there are entirely new debugging techniques such as tracing that can be used to debug their system. These tools can record when tasks start and end execution and when events occur such as data being placed in a message queue or a mutex being locked. Tracing tools can even be used to verify that the application is executing as expected. Needless to say, debugging is a big issue that every development team is facing and needs to tackle.

 

Challenge #4 – Managing Memory

An important challenge for developers is managing memory. There are several layers to memory management when using an RTOS. First, developers may need to configure their RTOS to minimize code size if they are using a resource constrained device. Usually RTOS optimization will require adjusting the RTOS configuration file to disable features that use a lot of code space or RAM. Second, developers need to properly manage their RTOS objects and how they allocate memory in their system. Using the heap and byte pools can result in non-deterministic behavior along with memory fragmentation. Using the RTOS default stack size can result in using too much RAM, or worse, a stack overflow. These issues can be solved by performing a worst case stack analysis and by using block memory pools, but that doesn’t make the issues trivial.

 

Challenge #5 – The Learning Curve

Developers who are switching from bare-metal coding techniques into an RTOS environment often struggle with learning about RTOSes. There are a lot of great materials on the web and in books that give ideas about the major RTOS objects and how to use them, but having a theoretical knowledge of an RTOS application is one thing. Designing and implementing a real application and fighting through all the nuances and issues is another. Developers making the transition should pick up their favorite development kit, a port of the RTOS they are interested in, and then start designing something simple in order to stretch their legs and shrink the learning curve.

 

Conclusion

Whether you are new to using an RTOS or are a seasoned veteran, as developers we face very similar challenges when designing and implementing our RTOS-based applications. As system complexity increases, the need to be an expert at using an RTOS is going to be a requirement for every embedded software engineer.

ESC Minneapolis is Back!
The Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) is back in Minnesota and it’s bigger than ever. Over two days, Nov. 8-9, 2017, receive in-depth education geared to drive a year’s worth of work. Uncover software design innovation, hardware breakthroughs, fresh IoT trends, product demos, and more that will change how you spend time and money on your next project. Click here to learn more!

 

Jacob Beningo is an embedded software consultant who currently works with clients in more than a dozen countries to dramatically transform their businesses by improving product quality, cost and time to market. He has published more than 200 articles on embedded software development techniques, is a sought-after speaker and technical trainer and holds three degrees which include a Masters of Engineering from the University of Michigan. Feel free to contact him at jacob@beningo.com, at his website www.beningo.com/, and sign-up for his monthly Embedded Bytes Newsletter.

 

Rotor Clip Brings Student Contest Winners to the Atlantic Design and Manufacturing Show

Design News - Fri, 2017-06-23 02:01

Win a student contest and go to the Big Apple. That’s how it worked for four engineering students at East Caroline University earlier this month. The student team entered a railroad hand cart for a mechanical engineering class. They entered it into Rotor Clip’s annual Ring-A-Majig contest and won first place. The team pocketed $500 and won a trip to the Atlantic Design and Manufacturing show.

 

Rotor Clip's contest winners from Eastern Carolina University include Zachery Rogers, Samuel Poindexter, John Rayner, Erik Panarusky (image by Design News).

 

The Model Railroad Hand Cart was designed and built by Erik Panarusky, Sam Poindexter, John Rayner, and Zachery Rogers, under the direction of student advisor, Ranjeet Agarawala. This year’s competition was more competitive than last year’s inaugural contest. “We almost doubled our contest entries, so we had much higher participation than last year,” Jürgen Wenzel, marketing communications manager at Rotor Clip, told Design News.

Wide Range of Engineering Criteria

The competing entries were judged on originality and creativity; application of sound engineering principles as they apply to retaining rings; complexity and functionality of the design; and quality of the design presentation. Rotor Clip praised the quality of entrees. “The students demonstrated their grasp of engineering principles with a variety if submissions,” said Wenzel. “One group designed a new innovative skateboarding axle, while others used existing technology to show us how components can be fastened solely with retaining rings.”

 

Here's the winning design of a model railroad hand cart (image courtesy of Rotor Clip).

 

Rotor Clip challenged engineering students across the nation to show off their engineering prowess and to come up with a unique device design that incorporated a set of retaining rings as the fastening method. For the 2017 contest Rotor Clip added a twist to the challenge. “Last year it was it just retaining rings. This year we asked students to include one functioning wave spring,” said Wenzel. The designed device also had to display motion or movement.

The ATMAE Connection

The contest was held in affiliation with the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE). Four mechanical engineers from Rotor Clip served as judges. They viewed the five finalist's presentations and selected the top three winners. A number of ATMAE-member professors made the contest entry a project for their mechanical engineering classes. “We had four groups for Purdue,” said Wenzel. “Professor Rosemary Astheimer made it part of the spring semester curriculum. She used the contest as a teaching tool.” One of the Purdue groups came in second.

Through its affiliation with ATMAE, Rotor Clip’s goal is to support education in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) with programs that expose students to real-world situations and encourage them to pursue careers in manufacturing. “We’re now in discussion in opening it up to more schools. Right now, it’s schools that are affiliated with ATMAE,” said Wenzel. “Our engineers feel it should be opened more to other schools and programs.”

 

READ MORE ARTICLES ON TECHNOLOGY COMPETITIONS:

 

Rotor Clip brought the wining team to the company’s Somerset, NJ, headquarters where they toured the facilities and meet the contest judges. The team also presented the winning product to attendees of the Atlantic Design and Manufacturing show at Rotor Clip's booth. Rotor Clip will be holding a 2018 Ring-A-Majig contest. Details will be released this fall.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

These Creepy Human Models Help Incorporate Anthropocentric Data Into the Development Process

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-06-22 11:10

We created the 3D Human Model tool to incorporate anthropocentric data into our development process. The models are created using the scientifically validated data that can be found on www.dined.nl and in the Child Restraint System regulations. The development was done in conjunction with Dr. Johan F.M. Molenbroek, Associate Professor Applied Ergonomics at the Delft University of Technology. The tool is widely used by multinationals, agencies and industrial design educations. It can be purchased through www.3dhumanmodel.com.

View the full content here

Reader Submitted: KORUS: Wireless Modular Microphones that Attach to Any Instrument

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-06-22 11:10

Recording live music often requires massive amounts of equipment, and recording each instrument separately, without leakage, can be challenging. KORUS microphones can be configured to any instrument or situation without wires or stands.

View the full project here

The Industrial Design Prototyping Process, Part 8: Documenting the Work with Photos & Video

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-06-22 11:10

Just because your prototype is finished, doesn't mean your work is. Here industrial designer Eric Strebel points out the importance of having a pre-established, ready-to-go camera set-up, as with deadlines you may need to ship your prototype out the day it's finished, and you want a way to document your work. Strebel also reveals the DIY rig he used to capture the curving dolly shot you've seen in the intros for this video series:


The OneBlade Core: A Hyperdesigned Razor That Provides a Good Shaving Experience With Just a Single Blade

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-06-22 11:10

I shave with a cheap Dorco Pace razor, and as someone who enjoys using fine objects and tools, I hate myself for it. It's an ugly piece of plastic that looks like it was created by a failed basketball sneaker designer. But I use it because the cartridges are relatively cheap, about $1.37 each.

Previously I hadn't seen any designey razor alternatives on the market that I'd consider. But I've just caught wind of the Pensa-designed OneBlade Core, a fanatically-engineered razor made of Tritan and stainless steel. Have a look:

The razor goes for $50, but I'm at the age where that seems well worth it to me for the design attention that went into it. 

I also like that they've apparently engineered a good shave out of a single blade; tossing a pure piece of metal into the recycling rather than the typical metal-and-plastic cartridges seems more attractive to me. And speaking of blades—"Japanese blades" sound expensive, don't they?—I was stunned to learn you can get them for 67 cents a pop if you buy them in bulk. That's about half of what I'm paying for the Dorco replacements.

The only thing I'm not crazy about is the handle base. I'm assuming they want you to store it sideways so that water drains off of the blade properly, but as an apartment dweller with your standard NYC bathroom, I don't have that kind of sink-side real estate.

In any case, if you want to learn more about the Core (yes, the name got to us) there's more info here.

Design Job: Help Evolve Apple's iOS Support App as their iOS Software Engineer in Cupertino, CA

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-06-22 11:10

Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple. If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more than a few perks. Do you have a passion for creating experiences that help

View the full design job here

Currently Crowdfunding: Our Favorite Kickstarter Projects of the Week

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-06-22 11:10

A roundup of our favorite Kickstarter projects currently crowdfunding for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:

The very intricate, very useful Kuroi Hana Japanese Knife Collection.

The Transparent Speaker has gotten a few upgrades, including Bluetooth connectivity and a wireless button that acts as a remote.

BiTool 2.0 Lit: Could this multitool be the multitool?

Want the connectivity of a smart watch without looking like an a-hole? Smart Buckle lets you give your favorite watch smart features on the DL.

*****

A Safe Space for Getting Your Work Critiqued by Peers 

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-06-22 11:10

Students: how many times have you found yourself before a review wondering if you could've improved anything about the project you've been working on? Wishing you had more people with design experience with whom you could reach out to and get feedback? Well, we're hoping to offer up a solution.

Our newest "Work In Progress" Facebook group is aimed a.) at students working on a school project looking for feedback from fellow designers and, importantly, b.) professional designers willing and eager to help students work through challenging issues and complex form and concept decisions.

Here's how it works: Send a request to join our "Work in Progress" Facebook group. Write a post within the group with images of your project and a description. We will receive your message and if it feels appropriate to post, we will include on our Work In Progress Facebook group feed where designers will be able to view and critique—it's that simple!

So what are you waiting for? Join the group and get a great conversation going so you can work with other designers to improve on your promising ideas. We can't wait to see your submissions!

Join our "Work in Progress" Facebook Group here

Designing to Eliminate the Concept of Waste

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-06-22 11:10

The bi-annual Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge asks emerging designers to develop new solutions for improving our environment through sustainable design. Each iteration of the challenge brings us closer to realizing the imperative to create a circular market standard. Presented by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute in collaboration with Autodesk and Arconic Foundation, the spring 2017 jury included Core77's own Stuart Constantine along with sustainability and strategy experts from Target, Ford Motor Company, BASF The C2C Institute and Arconic.

We're happy to share the winners of the fifth iteration of the Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge. After receiving applications from 18 countries, the design challenge recognized winners in five categories: Best Use of Cradle to Cradle Certified Materials, Best Professional Project, Best Student Project, Best Use of Autodesk Fusion 360 and Best Use of Aluminum. Find out more about their work below:

Best Student Project & Best Use of Aluminum: MyEcoWall

by Caterina Vianna & Ferran Gesa - EINA, University School of Design and Art, Barcelona, Spain

MyEcoWall is an acoustic-insulated space separator, designed to help make office environments safe and versatile, creating a comfortable atmosphere for employees and allowing the redefinition and adaptation of workspace settings as companies evolve. The rolling partitions are designed using component materials (Ecovative's MycoFoam & MycoBoard, wool and cork) that are biodegradable yet durable, enabling companies the flexibility to adapt retool, relocate, grow or reduce size.

Best Professional Project: Plano Chair

by Brandes en Meurs - Utrecht, Netherlands

Designers Michiel Meurs & Paddy Milford, with support from Mariska Hilhorst, Renee Emmerik, and Thijs Barentsen, designed the Plano Chair to be made from one single sheet of recycled and fully recyclable polypropylene material. The design was inspired by origami, with production involving only a single sided milling of a pre-produced laminated panel. This enables short production runs and allows for endless product variations within each run. Durable living hinges allow the sheet to take its final shape, and the use of a single material type makes sourcing and material reclamation easy.

Best Student Use of Autodesk Fusion 360: S(h)aving the World Personal Razor

by RIT Engineers for a Sustainable World - Rochester, NYp

Led by Daniel Rouleau and Morgan Mistysyn, Rochester Institute of Technology's (RIT) Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) used Cradle to Cradle product design principles to create a 100% recyclable razor that performs at the same standards as non-recyclable counterparts and requires less water during use.

Best Professional Use of Autodesk Fusion 360: LOOP Supply Medusa Spool

by Bartlomiej Gaczorek, Custom Shapes, Poland

Most of the materials for low-budget and consumer-level 3D printers are supplied in form of polymer wire coiled on spools, which are heavy, bulky, and are rarely, if ever recycled. Designer Bartlomiej Gaczorek developed Loop Supply Medusa Spool using Autodesk Fusion 360, demonstrating an innovative approach to using t-splines for the design, and simulation to assess the strengths of the overall model. Made from BASF's ecoflex®, the single-material spool is up to 80% lighter compared to conventional spools. The spool is also designed to foldable, thereby taking up less space, and can be easier to return to the supplier for reuse, or can be biodegraded.

Best Use of Cradle to Cradle Certified Materials: Scout Rain Jacket

by Alexandria Jones, Jordan Jones, Natalie Ouma and Melissa Shuford - SCAD, Savannah, GAp

The Scout Rain Jacket, designed by Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) students Alexandria Jones, Jordan Jones, Natalie Ouma and Melissa Shuford, is intended to help reduce waste created in the apparel industry. The Scout Rain Jacket is an outerwear garment intended for use by children. adjustable both vertically and horizontally, extending the product life and reducing waste by growing "with" the child and also allowing multiple owners.

The sixth Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge will open for entries in September, 2017. Check out the overview page for the design challenge page of the Cradle to Cradle Institute web site.


7 Great NASA Technologies You Don't Know About

Design News - Thu, 2017-06-22 02:30

ARM Technology Drives the Future. Join 4,000+ embedded systems specialists for three days of ARM® ecosystem immersion you can’t find anywhere else. ARM TechCon . Oct. 24-26, 2017 in Santa Clara, CA. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News ’ parent company UBM.

Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News.

Inkjet Additive Manufacturing Process for Memory Devices Opens Doors to Mass Production of Printed Electronics

Design News - Thu, 2017-06-22 02:01

Researchers have made a breakthrough in the fabrication of memory devices using inkjet additive manufacturing (AM) that paves the way for mass production of printable electronics.

A group of researchers at Munich University of Applied Sciences in Germany and INRS-EMT in Canada have demonstrated an additive-manufacturing process using inkjet printing to fabricate resistive memory (ReRAM).

The work is significant because it shows that a complete additive printing process is possible for electronic devices, facilitating the future mass production of flexible electronics through cost-effective printing processes, said Christina Schindler, one of the lead researchers on the project.

"The biggest technological appeal is the mechanical flexibility of our memory tiles, and the fact that all materials required for processing are commercially available," she said.

"Print-on-demand electronics are another large field of possible applications," added Schindler’s co-leader in the research, Andreas Ruediger of INRS-EMT. "At present, the main source of versatile electronics is field-programmable gate arrays that provide a reconfigurable circuitry that can be adopted for different purposes with predefined limitations."

 

Christina Schindler of the Munich University of Applied Scientists and Bernhard Huber of INRS-EMT in Quebec in front of their inkjet printer. The two are lead researchers on work to develop an inkjet additive-manufacturing process to fabricate memory, paving the way for mass production of printed electronics. (Source: Munich University of Applied Sciences/INRS-EMT)


 
While memory devices are becoming progressively more flexible, their ease of fabrication and integration in low-performance applications have not been the main focus of their research until the group’s work, a paper about which has been published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

Additive manufacturing—mainly associated with 3D printing—eliminates lithography and material-removal steps at the detriment of feature size, allowing for a streamlined process flow. Inkjet printing is a common office technology that offers the benefit of a straightforward transfer from inkjet to roll-to-roll printing.

The group used a simple principle behind the ReRAM with which it worked, explained Bernhard Huber, a doctoral student at INRS-EMT and working in the Laboratory for Microsystems Technology at Munich University of Applied Sciences.

“In any kind of memory, the basic memory unit must be switchable between two states that represent one bit, or '0' or '1,’” he said. “For ReRAM devices, these two states are defined by the resistance of the memory cell.”

For the conductive-bridge random access memory (CB-RAM) used by the group, "0" is "a high-resistance state represented by the high resistance of an insulating spin-on glass, which separates a conducting polymer electrode from a silver electrode," Huber said. "The '1' is a low-resistance state, which is given by a metallic filament that grows into the spin-on glass and provides a reversible short-circuit between the two electrodes."

The group eschewed printing colors in favor of using functional inks to deposit a capacitor structure comprised of conductor-insulator-conductor with materials already deployed in clean-room processes, he said. "This process is identical to that of an office inkjet printer, with an additional option of fine-tuning the droplet size and heating the target material,” Huber said.

The group plans to continue its work to improve the process and envisions the enablement of print-on-demand electronics that show potential for small and inherently flexible lines of production and end-user products, Schindler said.

"From our proof of concept, we're paving a road toward optimization," she said. "Just imagine supermarkets printing their own smart tags or public transport providers customizing multifunctional tickets on demand. Wearables that explicitly require flexible electronics may also benefit.”

Once the work is optimized, the costs for such a printer to develop electronics could drop to within the range of current inkjet printers, Schindler added.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 15 years. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.

 

Reader Submitted: A Playful Take on Sperm Banks Aiming to Reverse the Objectification of Women in the Reproductive Process

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-06-21 10:13

As a designer, I am interested in finding ways to use design to encourage people to think critically about social issues. Instead of redesigning existing products or developing new products to solve problems, I want to use design to comment on contemporary issues. The issue I want to draw attention to through my thesis project is the objectification of women by men.

When doing research on the objectification of women, I did not limit my research only to China because this is a global issue. Even though the ways, influences, and phenomenon might be different in each country, the causes are the same.

The result of objectification of women by men has caused many women to have a misunderstanding of their own value. When talking about objectification, we usually think about negatively commenting on appearance, but regarding people as functions is also objectification. In this case, women are generally objectified as a reproduction tool.

I designed the sperm bank Cumulus Center to comment on this issue. By employing humor and satire, I intend to redirect the objectification of women as reproductive tools by highlighting the notion that women should have full reproductive freedom.

In Cumulus Center, all male donors are objectified as virtual objects which look like cute human-like characters called Flakes. Women pick and purchase Flakes from the Cumulus Center's website. The website has a gamified interface where people can both interact with Flakes and purchase Flakes based on a series of diverse preferences. Not limited to an online service, Cumulus Center also provides offline resale vending machines. Like Gashapon machines, the offline resale vending machines allow women to purchase random capsules, which include a Flake toy and, of course, a sperm sample.


Flake from WebsiteFlakes from Gamified Website: Expiration time: 6 month; Price: $30 - $200; Note: Please keep your Flake in the refrigerator!Credit: Jonathan AllenFlake from WebsiteSelecting and purchasing Flakes from Cumulus Center's gamified website. People can interact with the Flakes by asking questions or asking Flakes to demo their fighting abilities, by fighting one another to compare.

Credit: Jonathan AllenFlake from WebsiteAfter purchasing Flakes online, Cumulus Center will send the specimen through the mail.Credit: Miiko Shan HeGashapon MachineThis offline resale vending machines allow women to purchase random capsules, which include a Flake toy and, of course, a sperm sample.Credit: Jonathan AllenGashapon MachineCredit: Jonathan AllenGashapon MachineCredit: Jonathan AllenGashapon MachineCredit: Jonathan AllenCapsules of Flakes Expiration time: 3 month; Price: $20; Note: Please keep your Flake in the refrigerator!Credit: Jonathan AllenCapsules of FlakesNot limited to online service, Cumulus Center also provides offline resale vending machines. Functioning as Gashapon machines with which women can obtain random capsules containing Flake sperm samples.Credit: Jonathan AllenCapsules of FlakesThe Flake toys need to be stored in the refrigerator to keep fresh, and there will be an expiration time. Women can decide whether they want to use it or not before the expiration time. Credit: Jonathan AllenView the full project here

Materials Matter: Exploring the Luxurious Side of Beauty Packaging

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-06-21 10:13
Sam O'Donahue and Becky Jones

Young designers starting a career tend to think big and often dream of creating the next cool sports car, cell phone or iconic piece of furniture. Not many, notes Sam O'Donahue, picture themselves designing cosmetics packaging or lipstick cases.

O'Donahue, a Brit who earned an industrial design degree from Central St. Martins in London, said in a recent telephone interview that when he graduated he "didn't even know that designing makeup was a thing. I didn't know you could actually do that, let alone win an award for it"—which he and his New York-based firm Established have since made a habit of doing.

He formed Established in 2007 with his wife, Becky Jones (a Cambridge-educated lawyer with a background in film production who handles the business side), and today, they boast a portfolio of well-known clients, from Marc Jacobs and H&M to Ariana Grande and Rihanna.

Marc Jacobs Kiss pop collection. Brand: Kendo/ Marc Jacobs Beauty; Design Agency: Established

Their metallic-looking, bullet-shaped Kiss Pop lipstick package for Marc Jacobs has racked up major honors—from the 2015 Diamond Pentawards "Best of Show," to first place in the 2016 Dieline Awards, to the 2016 Gold Clio Image Award. In addition to designing many packages for Marc Jacobs Beauty, Established also received a 2015 Silver Pentaward for its bottle design for Marc Jacobs Mod Noir. The firm also has ranged outside the beauty field, executing a colorful redesign, for example, of Svedka vodka as one of its very first projects.

An Untapped Career Opportunity

O'Donahue says that more designers fail than succeed in the highly competitive arenas of housewares and furniture and the like, and that beauty packaging offers just as rewarding career opportunities.

"What I find interesting about cosmetics, fragrance and beauty packaging is that it requires the same skill sets as those people who would be good at designing furniture or housewares. I'm going to buy a chair because it has a sense of fashion or a sense of style, and I think that's the common denominator…. Any fragrance and any cosmetic has a function and a job, and that job is not particularly complicated. But at the end of the day, a woman will purchase it because she just loves it. It's fashion, and about being able to design things that feel current."

One also needs a good sense of form, color, finish and material, and an understanding of how these things go together, he said.

What can't be ignored, O'Donahue added, is that "the cosmetics and fragrance industry is enormous—billions and billions of dollars are traded in personal care, and it's on the rise." That means that a lot of design work is needed, and much of it is centered out of New York, even for European brands, because America is the biggest market.

"It can be a very well-paid job, as well," he said. "I think there needs to be more awareness that it's a career that more people should consider."

Indeed, a recent market study called "Global Cosmetic Packaging Market Research Report—Forecast to 2022," projects the global cosmetic packaging market will grow by 5.2% per year, and reach a value of $35.6 billion by 2022.

"If you look at Mac Cosmetics or indeed the work we have done for Marc Jacobs, the industrial design is just fantastic. I would suggest that if you took that to any design school, people would say it's really beautifully designed, with beautiful proportions, finishes and beautiful combinations of materials and finishes—it's just really cool stuff."

Understanding the Material Options

When it comes to material choice, O'Donahue noted how different plastics can finish in different ways, impacting how it feels in your hand. He said all his agency's clients have in-house packaging engineers and Established relies on their expertise to define the exact materials used. A lot of it involves giving designers the correct palettes for the finishes they want—for example, a particular satin gold, or a specific matte black, or something with extra gloss.

Marc Jacobs Mod Noir. Brand: Coty/ Marc Jacobs; Design Agency: Established; Photographer: Stephanie Dinkel

He referred to firms such as Malta-based plastics injection molder and toolmaker Toly Group, which does work for Chanel, or glass makers such as Saint-Gobain or Groupe Pochet, and said it is these companies that are coming up "with more and more tools for designers to indulge in."

Established uses plastics extensively in its work. The Marc Jacobs range of packages, for example, is all made of plastic, O'Donahue said. While looking like a silver bullet, his award-winning Kiss Pop lipstick case is a vacuum-metallized ABS plastic. Even when working with glass fragrance bottles, the cap and other components usually are made of very high-quality plastic. Some cosmetics packages, he noted, are injection molded out of Zamac, which is a German acronym of the materials that make up the non-ferrous and versatile alloy—zinc, aluminum, magnesium and copper.

On the topic of processes, O'Donahue said, "We couldn't do our job without 3D printing. There are huge amounts of subtlety in what we design, so a very, very tiny change to a curve will affect the feel of a shape or a product, and we care about that level of detail. The only way you can realistically check if one curve is better than another curve is to run [rapid prototypes]. Every day we send files to our prototype people, and the next day we get to feel it in our hand. It's absolutely vital as a part of the design process."

The problem with 3D printing is the volume. If a 3D-printed product is a runaway success, and one needs a production run of 200,000 at a time, then it doesn't work. The advantage is that it requires no tooling costs. One of the downsides in the cosmetics industry is that anything that is custom is very expensive due to the tooling. Limited runs can be cost-prohibitive, so this is where 3D printing might be able to help.

Some products, especially on the luxury end, can be very complex. A single compact case for Marc Jacobs, for example, might involve six to eight parts—a button, spring, top tray, bottom tray, etc.—plus very nuanced curves, slopes, colors (such as marrying a matte teal next to a champagne silver) and high-end, precisely controlled, secondary finishing.

When it comes to high-profile clients, O'Donahue has confirmed that Established is doing all the design work for Rihanna's broad, new line of cosmetics. "That's coming out in September, and I'm sure it will be a huge phenomenon in the market," O'Donahue said.

H&M Beauty. Brand: H&M; Design Agency: Established; Photographer: Josh Treadaway

At the lower end, in terms of price point, they also do much work with Swedish retailer H&M, which relies heavily on good design to delight clients by surprising them with the quality and value they are getting for a very reasonable price.

The Glass Polymer Portfolio

When it comes to material choice for beauty packaging, one firm working to broaden the options for brands and designers is Eastman Chemical Co. Based in Kingsport, Tenn., this century-old plastics and chemicals supplier has developed a range of products called the Glass Polymer™ portfolio, which it bills as "the clear choice for luxury packaging."

"The Diamond Concept" by Gaggione uses Eastman's Glass Polymer™ family of cosmetic materials; Photo: Eastman Chemical Co. 

The range includes six grades of Eastar copolyesters, and one grade each of Tenite cellulosics and Tritan copolyester. These grades can be injection molded, extrusion blow molded and stretch blow molded. Eastman touts their attributes of sustainability, performance and luxury.

"We are here to magnify the brand's products, and to extend the experience of the brand," said Cedric Perben, Eastman's Lyon, France-based technical platform leader for global cosmetics and personal care packaging. "Many brands, especially on the luxury end, want transparent packaging that shows the cream or product inside."

The packaging also must deliver in terms of functionality, to preserve and protect the cream, with no adverse effects in terms of migration, with no stress cracking, or problems with chemical resistance, or breakage or product safety.

Glass, of course, has traditionally been the material of choice for such types of high-end packaging. It offers clarity, weight and a luxury feel, but also has several drawbacks, especially given some changing consumer habits. The same weight that gives glass a hefty, quality feel, also can be a negative, said Perben, a 13-year Eastman veteran with a Ph.D. in plastics processing.

Chasing Consumer Habits

For example, consumers today are more mobile and they value portability in their products. When they wish to carry their cosmetics with them, the weight of glass can be an issue, Perben said. There also is increasing use of refill systems, which allow consumers to travel light and use cartridges to replenish the contents of their products once they reach their destination. The ability to reuse the original container also makes for a good sustainability argument.

Consumer purchasing habits factor into the equation, as well. With online shopping growing at warp speed, the shipping of heavy glass containers not only requires significant protective packaging, but also has negative sustainability implications.

"The biggest problem for glass is that it breaks," added Renske Gores, market development manager for specialty plastics packaging in the EMEA region. "What opened the door for our materials was brands looking for more durable packaging that doesn't break," while its lighter weight also was a major advantage.

Perben said: "We do not compromise on the transparency or on the gloss, and we also can add more functionality than is possible with glass." The Glass Polymer materials can easily be colored and can accommodate a variety of secondary operations such as printing, silk screening and various special effects. "So you have much room in terms of design flexibility and innovation."

The Growing Environmental Aspect

Sustainability also is growing in significance. "We now talk about sustainability on every project. But every brand defines it differently." Interests and corporate strategies on this topic range widely, to include a focus on one or more of the following: lifecycle analysis, carbon footprinting, lightweighting, durability, eco-design, use of bio-based or renewable materials, end-of-life recyclability, etc.

Chronos Flavonoides de Passiflora by Natura Brasil features a durable, refillable bottomless jar; Photo: Eastman Chemical Co.

Take Natura Brasil, for instance, Brazil's largest cosmetics maker. Natura specified Eastman's Eastar™ AN014 high-clarity copolyester polymer for the packaging of its Chronos Flavonóides de Passiflora line. Its aim was to highlight the elegance of the Chronos brand with the look and feel of glass, but with added functionality.

Natura's design for this product has a durable, refillable, bottomless jar that requires fewer raw materials and less energy. Mechanical performance was one key, and Eastman said its resin helped to fill the thin wall clips that abate breakage thanks to excellent elongation.

Meanwhile, to make its environmentally friendly Tenite cellulosic resin—another member of the Glass Polymer family—Eastman uses wood pulp from sustainable forests. The resulting compound can include anywhere from 35-55% content of these renewable resources, Perben explained.

Gores, who is based at Eastman's regional headquarters near Rotterdam in The Netherlands, said its Glass Polymer materials also can "mimic the weight, so it feels like it's weighty without being as heavy as glass, in terms of touch, because we can make it so thick and still so clear. It can look the same [as glass] and have the same luxurious feel."

A lot of show-and-tell is involved with explaining the Glass Polymer materials, she said, to help designers and brand owners to get over any possible anti-plastic bias that might exist.

An Emotional Business

"There are a lot of emotions involved" in the look, feel and even sound (of clips snapping, case lids closing, etc.), Perben said, suggesting that Eastman can address all these with its materials.

One challenge, he conceded, that his company still faces is the issue of cold-touch. Because the polymers are based on organic materials, they always feel a bit warmer than glass. "There is nothing we can do here," Perben said—"either the designer will like it or not like it."

Elo, a perfume for Claudia Leitte by Jequiti; Photo: Eastman Chemical Co.

Also, for mass-produced items such as, for example, glass nail-polish bottles, "we never will be able to compete" in terms of price. But when it comes to lower-volume, luxury items, the Glass Polymer resins offer many advantages, he said.

Packaging is changing a lot, as brands are trying to enhance their customers' emotional experiences with their products. There also is a trend toward more "smart" packaging that allows consumers to interact with the package via their smartphones, for example.

If Sam O'Donahue has his way, more industrial designers will emerge from college with a clear vision of the opportunities that await in beauty packaging design. And if Perben and Gores get their wish, those designers also will understand the diverse materials palette available for such applications, including Glass Polymer resins that they say offer beauty packaging brand owners the clarity, durability and enhanced sustainability they desire.

Learn more about (let me know what company you want to focus on in this article) and the ways that #MaterialsMatter at innovationlab.eastman.com.

Auto Design Exercise: Pickup Trucks Mashed Up With Luxury and Performance Vehicles

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-06-21 10:13

Remember the "Transferring the Design Language of Classic Game Consoles to Cars" exercise? Now it appears the same organization—a UK-based retailer of Ford vehicles—has commissioned another design mash-up, this one following the recent trend of pickup trucks gaining luxury amenities.

Though the exercise is called "Luxury cars re-imagined as Pick up trucks," we feel that the word "luxury" is a bit inconsistently applied here; what they've done is take expensive cars, some of them luxury and some of them performance vehicles, and re-imagined them as trucks. Some look interesting and some look absurd, and on the whole it's fun to see what they've come up with.

Pickup trucks, traditionally functional with little consideration for frills and comfort, stand ready for a luxury upgrade. As they evolve from utility to comfort, it's only a matter of time before luxury car brands jump onboard with pickup models. We couldn't help but wonder what that would look like. Lotus EliseSporty, flashy and fast. In other words, everything a sports car should be. The classic Lotus Elise appeared in 1996 and revolutionised small sports car design. So how could this classic design be improved? Cargo space. Make sure you tie down that cargo if you want it there when you arrive at your destination. Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV Spied while tested against extreme weather conditions on snowy Swedish roads recently, this new luxury looks like it's going to take the car world by storm when it's unveiled in 2018. But what if it had a double life as a pickup, perfect to transport you and your equipment, to that remote campsite or ski resort. Jaguar F-PaceJaguar really nailed it with their first SUV. Luxurious, powerful and great looking, this pricey and punchy performer was a family-friendly hit. But what if it was redesigned as a pickup truck? This vehicle would be perfect as a pickup, transporting the family or towing a boat, and it would certainly look the part too. Lamborghini Urus SUVLamborghini's first SUV looks set to retain many of the sharp-design hallmarks of their supercars. Described by the company as "a super sports car inside an SUV" this highly-anticipated vehicle is due out in 2018. Maybe one day designers will re-design this super SUV as a functional yet classy pickup. Bentley MulsanneNothing says luxury like a Bentley, and the Mulsanne is no exception. Bentley's flagship vehicle exudes elegance and luxury, and is not wanting for performance. First introduced in 2010, what better way to give this classic a new lease of life, than making it over into a pickup. Lexus LF-LCAgile, sporty and technologically advanced, the Lexus LF-LC was conceived around the idea of fluid precision and avant-garde beauty. Its luxurious flowing curves and superior technology make it the perfect vehicle to resculpt as a pickup truck. Ford Fiesta RS The 2017 Ford Fiesta RS is still in development, but word on the street is that this much-hyped car is finally landing in 2019. While we may not know if this sporty, rally-style Fiesta will ever see the light of day, it would look great as a pickup truck.

As for the unexamined brands:

Mitsubishi, Nissan, Ford, Volkswagen and Fiat have all launched their own pickup trucks in recent years, so don't be surprised if you see the luxury brands following suit with their own high end pickup trucks.See Also:

Trucks Go Deluxe for Big Bucks

Mercedes-Benz Pickup Trucks are On the Way

Knipex Pliers Wrench

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-06-21 10:13

When we're in a hurry or traveling light, we often resort to one-size-fits-most tools like adjustable wrenches and pliers. These tools are fine for rough work but are a poor choice when working on vehicles, machinery, and other precision equipment.

It's not that they can't do the job; it's that they frequently damage nuts and bolts—pliers because they have serrated jaws and adjustable wrenches due to an imperfect fit caused by slop in the mechanism.

Enter the German-made Knipex Pliers Wrench, a smooth-jaw adjustable plier with a unique gear-operated mechanism that keeps the jaws perfectly parallel to each other as they adjust to fit different size nuts and bolts. They perform the function of an adjustable wrench but with a better fit because they grasp tight like pliers.

The trick to their design is the operation of the lower jaw; instead of pivoting on a pin, it slides up and down on a pair of grooves. It does this in response to the motion of the upper handle, which engages by means of a cam-like projection that fits into a matching indentation on the back of the jaw.

Gross adjustments are made by pressing a spring-loaded pin and engaging with different sets of teeth in the serrated slot through one of the handles. The sliding jaw has between 1/4 and 3/8 inches of throw—meaning the jaws move that distance when the handles are squeezed or released.

It's an ingenious configuration that allows for quick adjustment and a tight fit to nuts, bolts, and whatever else is held in the jaws. According to Knipex, the Pliers Wrench offers a 10:1 mechanical advantage, so if your grip is strong you can use it to loosen very tight bolts.

They can be made to mimic the action of a ratcheting wrench by releasing tension on the "back stroke", a handy feature when working in tight quarters, where it would be necessary to remove and reset an adjustable wrench.

You might think it would be possible to provide similar functionality by putting smooth jaws on conventional pliers, but you can't. When you rely on a pivot, there's only one position at any given opening size where the jaws are parallel—which is what you want from a wrench. The jaws of the Pliers Wrench are always parallel.

The Pliers Wrench has been available in Europe for more than a decade. I first saw them several years back and was so entranced by their operation that I immediately ordered the 7-inch model. This was at a time when Knipex had minimal U.S. distribution; their tools are now much easier to get.

I wasn't sure how much I would use these pliers, but now that I have them they're my go-to tool for applications where I would otherwise use an adjustable wrench. I recently bought the 10-inch model, though I do not use it quite as much as the smaller size. The tool is also available in 6-, 12-, and 16-inch models with dipped or ergonomic grips.

The Pliers Wrench is made in Germany, so it isn't cheap, but as with so many tools it is one where you get what you pay for.

Design Job: Get in the Holiday Spirit (All of the Time) as an Industrial Designer at The Elf on the Shelf

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-06-21 10:13

Join us in Creating Family Moments! Creatively Classic Activities and Books is looking for an experienced Industrial Designer to join our team! The Industrial Designer is responsible for the conceptualization and development of new and continuing products, from ideation through to manufacturing. He/she designs and

View the full design job here

Completely Mesmerizing Time-Lapse of Wood Having Layers Removed

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-06-21 10:13

Photographer/filmmaker Brett Foxwell, who has expertise with both stop-motion and time-lapse techniques, created this very surprising video by shaving logs down layer-by-layer, then stitching still shots of the cross-sections together:

WoodSwimmer from bfophoto on Vimeo.

Writes Foxwell:

I became fascinated with the possibilities of a sci-fi world based on the alien forms to be found within this material [wood] that grows all around us. While brainstorming this world, I came upon the concept of the WoodSwimmer. This is a deep scan of both the material of wood and the time embedded in its structure. It was a challenging technique to perfect, but once I did, I was able to shoot short sequences that move the camera through samples of hardwood, burls and branches. The result is beautiful imagery both abstract and very real. In the twisting growth rings and the swirling rays, a new universe is revealed.

Foxwell's personal brand is BFO PHoto, and you can see more of his work here.


Thoughts on Designing for Disassembly

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-06-21 10:13

All right, all right! I'll confess: I'm part of the last generation to enter college without a cell phone—part of the last generation to graduate before iPhones were even on the market (Gasp! The horror!). My parents gave me my sister's old phone as a sophomore, and I remember not wanting it, only begrudgingly accepting it with the caveat, "Just don't expect to reach me."

More than a decade later, I've had nine different phones, typically upgrading after less than two years. It's not that these phones quit working (except the one I dropped off a cliff while rock climbing—a story for another time), but these phones simply weren't up-to-date enough to continue using. New software comes out continuously, and older hardware design can't keep up. Worse, most of the phone components we dump every year can't be recycled, much less upgraded. Enter design for disassembly: the design philosophy requiring easy dismantling for repair, upgrade, remanufacture, or recycling.

The New Hardware Lifecycle

Since the 1950s, when electronics and plastics were becoming common consumer products, we've used a linear lifecycle plan for new designs: natural resources to raw materials to manufactured products to consumer use to landfill. But isn't there a better way? Of course!

The old hardware lifecycle

Instead of thinking linearly, with design for disassembly, we open up possibilities to extend usable life—and to shorten the loop on recycling—without breaking down components into raw materials to become useful again. Hardware designs often use valuable components that can be repaired, upgraded, reused in new products or, at the end of life, recycled to save natural resources. For any of these potential redemptions of hardware, an important aspect of the design is that it be easily taken apart. In other words: Design hardware for disassembly, to extend its life.

There is a better way! For Easy Repair, Design for Disassembly

In any design, the most efficient use of materials is to function as long as possible, and this means that the hardware design facilitates easy repair.

Accessing internal components should be quick and easy, minimizing both the number of steps required for disassembly and the number of fastening components that need to be removed. Fasteners should be removable using common tools, too—for instance, cross head screws are easier to find drivers for than esoteric star or square drive screws. Also, make sure that all the fasteners to remove a panel can be seen from a single viewing angle, without flipping the product.

The RazerBlade Pro case backing: Note that all the screws are accessible from a single angle.

Snap fits can also be a great assembly feature that is also easy to disassemble, but with some caution: The snap fits must be visible, with a clear method to disengage the snap, and snaps should also have plenty of flex, to allow for multiple cycles of engaging and disengaging, so that they won't be easily broken during repair.

Equally important to consider in design for disassembly is what to avoid. Obviously, permanent adhesives make disassembly impossible, as do welded or heat-formed plastic joints. And when thinking of repair, carefully consider which components are most likely to break, and make them accessible before more durable components, so the user isn't required to, say, completely disassemble a phone to access the screen. (I love my iPhone, but I always get the sense I'm clumsier than the consumer Ive and Jobs had in mind.)

For Easy Upgrade, Design for Disassembly

In addition to repair, designing hardware for disassembly allows for a longer life through easy upgrades, allowing some components to live on even as others become obsolete. Of course, way back when I went to college, everyone had tower computers (very few students could afford laptops back then—my god, am I getting old?), and these were a great example of easily upgraded hardware designs.

A key feature of an upgradable design is modularity, allowing components to be easily swapped for newer versions of the same part. When the function is not obvious, clearly labeling components helps with this, allowing even non-techies to easily upgrade their hardware.

What's been around since the eighties and is still useful? [source]

Also important: standard connectors. Think about the 15-pin VGA connectors still used to connect monitors or projectors to computers: They were common in the late 1980s and are still used frequently in industrial equipment, allowing for thirty years of easily interchangeable components.

Some designers are taking modularity a step further, and Google is evenexperimenting with a new phone that has a multitude of components that snap together, almost like Lego bricks. Imagine how long you could have a single phone, if all the components could be upgraded piece by piece!

For Easy Remanufacture, Design for Disassembly

Another way to shorten the recycling loop is to allow hardware designs to be easily remanufactured. When only a small percentage of components fail within a design, there's no reason to waste the useful parts, and design for disassembly plays a key role in allowing for a factory to turn the working parts into a good-as-new design.

As good as new! Well, maybe not, but it's now worth much more if you find the right buyer. [source]

Remanufacturing hardware becomes easier when components are shared across models and product lines, so it helps to think of this on a company-wide level, where possible, as well as looking at hardware that can be copied from one generation of product to the next. Twenty years ago, computer equipment was outdated by the time it reached retail stores, but in many areas, hardware development is slowing, and so continuing to use a few older components in new designs makes good design sense.

For Easy Recycling, Design for Disassembly

When a product can no longer practically be repaired, upgraded or remanufactured, the lifecycle has come to an end. However, there's no reason for hardware designs to end up in a landfill: All hardware has costly raw materials just waiting to be reused. But how do you access those materials? Design for disassembly, of course.

One of the biggest hindrances to material recovery is that materials are mixed together. Aluminum and plastic are both easily recyclable separately; when bonded together, they both become waste. Ensure different types of recyclable materials are easily disassembled from each other and that each is clearly labeled for recycling.

There are alternatives to recycling electronics, but none are good. [source]

With plastics, an additional consideration is contaminants, such as paint or glue, which can degrade the plastic or even render it completely un-recyclable. It's best to use non-adhesive joints and have any color mixed directly into the plastic itself, rather than painted on the surface.

With these simple techniques, your hardware design can end its life not in the landfill, but in the factory, ready to become a brand new product.

For a Greener Planet, Design for Disassembly

My grandmother used the same rotary dial phone from 1960 till 2014. While I doubt anyone in our generation will ever have a phone that lasts that long, perhaps with the right type of hardware designs, our new products will last longer, and possibly even have components that continue on into new products. Design for disassembly is a great way to increase the useful life of designs, and work towards a greener company that also helps the bottom line. Want to make your next product easier to "short cycle"? Share this article with your co-workers and get started today!

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"John Wick 2" Re-Shot With Nerf Guns is Freaking Amazing

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-06-21 10:13

Nerf has a toy design hit in their N-Strike Elite and Elite XD, the lines of "blasters" that fire foam-tipped projectiles. And they sell so well that you could argue Nerf doesn't need to advertise them. This doesn't appear to be a commercial or sponsored content, but Corridor Digital, the talent-riddled video spoof production house, blew us away with their Nerf John Wick video:

The choreography is not only spot-on, but I'm amazed at how the lead actor they used totally nails Keanu Reeves' physicality and mannerisms.

You guys reckon it's sponsored content, or do you think it was done organically?