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Manhattan's Lost Skyscraper: The Singer Building

Core 77 - Mon, 2018-07-16 23:15

Core77's NYC headquarters are in what is informally called the Singer Building, located in SoHo. Aside from the distinctive red and green façade, the building is easily discernible by the throngs of Core77 fans surrounding the entrance at all hours, eagerly hoping to catch a glimpse of our staff and ask for autographs. But this Singer Building, once the headquarters of the Singer Manufacturing Company, was for a time known as the Little Singer Building.

That's because in 1908, flush with sewing machine profits, Singer erected a massive building with a 47-story tower in Manhattan's Financial District, and that came to be called the Singer Building.

Upon its completion it was the tallest building in the world, which is important to people with penises. Designed in the Beaux Arts style by architect Ernest Flagg, the building towered over lower Broadway, yet still displayed restraint; the tower only utilized 25% of the 12-story base's footprint.

That design choice would be the building's undoing. But we'll get to that in a moment.

Because photo compositing technology had not been developed at the time, other famous structures like the Washington Monument, Statue of Liberty and the Capitol Building were recreated next to the Singer Building for comparison's sake, so that a sketch artist could refer to it. They were all torn down the next day Though the building was 47 stories, this says "41 stories" because the illustrator believed that stories with prime numbers were invalid Seeking a way to waste vast amounts of electricity, Singer began NYC's trend of dramatically lighting building exteriors at night Erected in 1908, the building's height was so novel that it wasn't until 1916 that people realized they could kill themselves by jumping off of it The vaulted lobby ceiling featured tall, hard-to-reach illuminated glass panels designed to torture the maintenance men who had to change the bulbs

In the 1960s, amidst waning fortunes, Singer leased office space at Rockefeller Center and put the Singer Building up for sale. However, the design was considered space-inefficient and thus undesirable, as the square footage afforded by the tower was vastly disproportionate to the building's footprint.

The building was demolished from 1967 to 1968, and Core77 HQ once again became known as the Singer Building. Or, as we call it around the office, the Building Where We Refuse Your Autograph Requests Because It Makes Us Feel Powerful.

Drought in Wales Reveals Hidden Subterranean Monuments

Core 77 - Mon, 2018-07-16 23:15

Architecture is supposed to be permanent, but take a good look around you, and ask yourself if the house or building you're in will be around in a thousand years. We have access to better materials science than the Romans did--well, except for concrete--yet the architectural evidence of their existence will likely outlast ours. (Our mark will be that we screwed up the environment.)

Now a combination of environmental conditions is revealing long-forgotten Roman structures. An unprecedented drought in Wales has revealed ghostly outlines in the earth, visible from above:

So what's going on here? As reported by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, here's precisely what we're seeing:

"Newly discovered cropmarks of a prehistoric or Roman farm near Langstone, Newport, south Wales.""The 'playing card' shape of Pen-llwyn Roman fort, Ceredigion emerging in parched grassland.""The almost ploughed-down medieval castle mound at Castell Llwyn Gwinau, Tregaron, showing clearly under parched conditions.""A newly discovered Roman fortlet near Magor, south Wales, emerging in ripening crops.""The Iron Age hillfort of Gaer Fawr near Lledrod, Ceredigion, looking across the parched landscape of mid Wales.""The buried ramparts of Cross Oak Hillfort, Talybont on Usk, showing as cropmarks.""Extensive cropmarks of Trewen Roman farmstead or villa, Caerwent, south Wales."

The presence of the visible outlines has to do with the construction methods of ancient fortifications. These illustrations below show how moats and defensive walls, once reclaimed by nature and modern farming, still leave telltale traces:

Next we'll look at how we modern-day earthlings do the exact opposite--building tall, impressive structures that we eventually demolish, leaving nothing behind for future archaeologists to find.

Pitch a Workshop for the 2018 Core77 Conference in New York City

Core 77 - Mon, 2018-07-16 23:15

We're looking for dynamic workshops to add to our exciting list of 2018 Core77 Conference presentations! This years theme is all about launching and growing your creative business or product line. Do you have practical knowledge around this topic? Are you passionate about working as an independent designer? Do you know a lil' somethin' somethin' about running a successful business?

If so, we want YOU!

Workshops that delve into a specific topic are preferred. To give you an idea of what we mean by this, a few workshop topics we already have covered are:

-Branding yourself as an independent designer 
-Crowdfunding tips and best practices
-PR for Designers: Does your work need PR? If so, how do you get it?

Fill out our survey by 11:59PM on TUESDAY July 31st to be considered. Selected workshop leads will win a complimentary pass to this year's festivities and a 1-hour workshop slot during the event.*

The 2018 Core77 Conference will focus on starting and running a design business, or launching your own product line. Attendees will walk away with tangible skills and toolkits to help them produce, finance and promote their products, their services, and themselves, along with a network of connections to help nurture their nerve. It will be informative, it will be honest, and it will be fun.

Learn more about launching and growing a creative business at this October's Core77 Conference in New York City. Buy your ticket before July 31st for Early Bird pricing.

*Travel costs and accommodations not included.

You Have 2 Days Left to Vote for the 2018 Core77 Design Awards Community Choice Winner!

Core 77 - Mon, 2018-07-16 23:15

On Saturday, July 14th, voting for this year's Community Choice Prize Winner in the 2018 Core77 Design Awards will officially come to a close, which means you still have a little more time to:

A.) Vote for your favorite design award-winning project of 2018 to win, or....

B.) Promote your own winning project for a chance to win / sabotage anyone else's chances of winning by blowing up your Twitter feed with reminders!

What might you ask is the grand prize for winning the 2018 Community Choice Prize? The lucky winner this year will receive airfare and one free ticket to our 2018 Core77 Conference to be held October 25th in New York City! Learn more about the conference here

In order to vote, simply go to your favorite project page in this year's awards on our design awards website and hit the "Vote for this project button" in the yellow square on the right side of the page—yes, it really is that simple.

If you're a winner yourself, don't forget to share this on social media as a reminder! The more your friends and colleagues are made aware of the Community Choice Prize, the better you're chance of winning.

It's now or never—click here to check out all of this year's winner so you can decide who should win this year! Happy voting. 

Better Butter Dispensing

Core 77 - Mon, 2018-07-16 23:15

I'm skeptical of kitchen gadgets in general, but this one seems genuinely useful, at least if you're a frequent consumer of butter. Most of us store butter in a butter dish, and cut slices off of it with a knife. If you refrigerate your butter (a Northeastern America thing? I recently learned of Midwestern and Southern households that leave it out all day and night), cutting it yields inconsistent results. Enter the Butter Twist, which is both the storage vessel and the means of precise dispensing:

The Butter Twist has been successfully Kickstarted and should start shipping later this year.

Tools & Craft #100: The Finest Water Fountain in New York City

Core 77 - Mon, 2018-07-16 23:15

I'm a big fan of pastrami, and I go to Katz's to get it. Katz's has been on Ludlow Street since 1888, and aside from superb pastrami, and what must be the largest restaurant seating capacity in New York City, they have the single coolest water fountain I have ever seen.

A genuine Art Deco relic, the three shelves store I-don't-know-how-many hundred glasses. With three spigots, that's a lot of glasses of water real fast. And it's beautiful and elegant to look at. And the water is cold and we all know water tastes better when it's in a glass.

I tried really hard to figure out a connection to woodworking but I failed. However, great design is great design in any medium, and I know I learned something useful from seeing this great fountain; I just don't know exactly what.


This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.

Brilliant Design for a Gas Can: The SureCan

Core 77 - Mon, 2018-07-16 23:15

Now relocated to farm country, I recently needed to gas up a lawn tractor. I went to Lowes to purchase a gas can. I grabbed the standard $20 one, which looks like this:

But next to it I spotted another gas can, listed for an absurd $50, that looked like this:

I couldn't understand why this one cost more than double, and set the other can down to take a closer look. A sticker on the side demonstrated how to use it, and it did indeed appear innovatively designed. Since Lowes has a pretty liberal return policy, I left the $20 can on the shelf and purchased the $50 one to try it out.

After a trip to the gas station I returned to the farm and learned that the SureCan, as it's called, works amazingly well. Here's what it looks like in action:

Using it was incredibly easy, and I won't be taking it back. Hoisting and aiming the thing was simple, and the trigger works perfectly, allowing you to dispense with precision.

I looked into it and the SureCan was invented by general contractor and cabinetmaker Brad Ouderkirk, who "spent a lot of his time filling gas powered machines and constantly spilling all over his expensive equipment." Ouderkirk spent four years designing the SureCan, building his own prototypes out of wood and plastic. Here's a closer look at the design, development of and need for the SureCan:

One of our favorite types of stories is when someone looks at an established, tried-and-true object that everyone takes for granted, then figures out how to improve it. Congratulations to Ouderkirk for not only designing it, but successfully bringing it to market.

Funding for Advanced Battery Research Hangs in Balance

Design News - Mon, 2018-07-16 05:00

In March of this year, funding for the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) was approved by Congress for another year. The $24.1 budget for 2018 from the US Department of Energy (DOE) allows JCESR to continue its work on “beyond lithium” batteries. The DOE was also directed to move forward with a five-year renewal of JCESR. The review of that proposal is currently underway.

JCESR got its start in 2012, when it was funded for five years with the vision, “to create game-changing, next-generation battery technologies that will transform transportation and the electricity grid the way lithium-ion batteries transformed personal electronics.” The center is administered out of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, but includes collaborations with researchers, scientists, and engineers at national laboratories and universities around the country, as well as a few private startup companies.

Formidable Goals

From the beginning, the JCESR had ambitious goals. For the transportation sector, the objective was to create batteries with five times the energy density at one fifth the cost. This would allow an electric vehicle (EV) to easily and inexpensively travel up to 400 miles on a single charge. For electrical power grids, the same energy density and cost goals would make storing and releasing renewable electricity on the grid as inexpensive as generating it with a natural gas turbine.

Pursuing fundamental research, JCESR focused on three concepts to redefine battery energy storage:

  • Multivalent Intercalation: Lithium ions are limited to a single charge state and can only gain or lose one electron. Other elements can gain or lose two or three electrons, increasing the number of electrons available from the same size battery. JCESR conducted a computer screening of more than 1,800 multivalent compounds, identifying calcium and magnesium (each with two electrons to transfer) as the most promising new battery materials.
  • Chemical Transformation: Current lithium ion batteries insert lithium ions between layers of a carbon graphite anode during charging in a process called intercalation. If the graphite anode can be replaced by lithium metal, a true chemical reaction can occur at the anode, producing higher energy densities. JCESR is focused on a lithium metal anode and a sulfur cathode as a possible future battery system.
  • Redox Flow-Flow Batteries: These batteries use energy dense liquids that undergo reduction and oxidation (redox), allowing them to store electrical energy during charging and release it during discharging. The liquids are held in storage tanks and are pumped through a reaction cell. Flow batteries have a great deal of potential for grid storage. JCESR is using inexpensive and versatile organic molecules as the energy storing redox materials.

JCESR’s transportation prototype battery will contain a lithium metal anode and a sulfur cathode, taking advantage of the system’s high theoretical capacity for energy storage and the low cost of sulfur. (Image source: JCESR)

To investigate these three concepts, JCESR scientists use sophisticated computer simulation tools as well as multimodal characterization by NMR, electron microscopy, X-ray scattering, and scanning probes. JCESR “unifies discovery science, battery design, research prototyping, and manufacturing collaboration in a single highly interactive organization.”

By all accounts, JCSER has been successful. “We promised one prototype for the grid, and one for the car, at the beginning,” George Crabtree, Argonne National Laboratory senior scientist and distinguished fellow, and the director of JCSER, told Design News. “What we delivered was two for the grid and two for the car. So we delivered four, after we promised two. We made about 60% of the energy density goal. In other words, we got three times the energy density, not five. We made the cost goal within 20%—we wanted $100 per kilowatt-hour, we got $120,” Crabtree noted.

“The bigger story is that we learned some lessons from that, and we changed our direction,” said Crabtree. “The lesson we learned is that on any given battery, it is very hard to meet all the performance specs that you want. We have changed, in our second five years, in recognition of this challenge (and our goal) to make batteries that meet all requirements simultaneously. The way we will do that is to understand, design, and control battery material performance at the atomic and molecular level,” said Crabtree.


A New Approach

Crabtree notes that battery research has been undertaken using an Edisonian approach. “Let’s try this material, let’s try that material, let’s tweak a material that we know about, and we will try to improve the performance. So far, that has not produced batteries that meet multiple performance metrics,” said Crabtree. “So we are trying something new. We are going to start at the atomic and molecular level and understand it well enough to design batteries from the bottom up—make our materials atom by atom and molecule by molecule, where every atom and molecule has a prescribed role in meeting a performance spec,” he explained.

One of the strengths of the JCESR has been its transfer of laboratory research results to several startup companies, such as Form Energy, Blue Current, and Sepion Technologies—each of which has benefited from the JCESR research findings.


It is a popular myth that scientific breakthroughs and technical innovation come primarily from a genius individual, working in solitude in a garage-based laboratory. The reality is that the majority of important new technologies and innovations got their start in a national laboratory, doing basic science research and funded by federal tax dollars. In many ways, the model started during World War II with the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), which focused scientific research into the war effort. Innovations like radar, battlefield medicine, bombsights, and even the atomic bomb were the result.

After the war in 1945, Vannevar Bush—who had been the head of the OSRD—wrote, “Basic research leads to new knowledge. It provides scientific capital. It creates the fund from which the practical applications of knowledge must be drawn.” His report, Science, the Endless Frontier, was delivered to President Truman in 1945. It became the blueprint for government-sponsored scientific research for the next 70 years.

Pictured is George Crabtree, director of JCSER. (Image source: JCSER)

Basic Research

“There is a very definite place for government funding of basic research, and that place is at the pre-competitive level,” said Crabtree. “We are working on next-generation batteries, for example. But we are not going to make the next-generation battery—we leave that to some commercial enterprise that sees a good idea and an opportunity, based on our research, and wants to commercialize it,” said Crabtree. “We are not picking winners and losers. We are simply opening up the space of possibilities that the private sector will choose from,” he added.

Federal funding of scientific research has, sadly, become highly politicized. The decision to continue to fund JCESR for another five years will be made within the next month. Hopefully, those in control of the purse-strings will consider the words of Vannevar Bush from 1945: “New products and new processes do not appear full-grown. They are founded on new principles and new conceptions, which in turn are painstakingly developed by research in the purest realms of science.”

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.

North America's Premier Battery Conference.
Join our in-depth conference program with over 100 technical discussions covering topics from new battery technologies and chemistries to BMS and thermal management. 
The Battery Show. Sept. 11-13, 2018, in Novi, MI. Register for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company UBM.


Reader Submitted: Eco-Conscious Manual Toothbrushes with Clip-On Brushes

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-07-15 22:13

HILT is a manual toothbrush service that empowers its users to reduce their plastic waste by providing handles manufactured from a selection of longer lasting, recycled or degradable materials. An accompanying subscription service provides the users with bristle heads, these bristle heads are designed to manufactured using the minimum amount of plastic. However, users are also encouraged to return their old bristle heads to be recycled. HILT encourages users to stick with the service and keep recycling their old bristle heads through a points system that grants rewards and discounts on HILT products.

A simple toothbrush may not seem like a lot of plastic, but after accounting for manufacturing waste, plastic packaging and the sheer number being thrown away, the figures become staggering. Through the HILT website and app, users can track not only their plastic reduction, CO2 reduction and amount recycled, but also that of the entire HILT community, so together, they can see the difference they are making.

HILT Toothbrush Handle RangeHILT Handle & Accompanying PackagingBamboo HILT HandleRecycled Synthetic Tortoise Shell Hilt HandleRecycled Toothbrushes HILT HandleStainless Steel Hilt HandleTitanium Alloy HILT HandleHILT Bristles & Freepost Return PackagingHILT UserDesign Process SummeryView the full project here

The Pink Coffin Pool Floatie 2018 Deserves 

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-07-15 22:13

Designers Andrew Greenbaum and Ian Felton of Pom Pom just served 2018 exactly what it deserves—a pink inflatable coffin. We caught wind of the satirical twist on the designer pool floatie trend yesterday morning, and put it to the Instagram poll test, which revealed many people are interested in the product.

Well, good news: the pink coffin is now on Kickstarter

It ain't cheap at $120 a pop, but rest assured, your crippling social anxiety and sunscreen reliant skin will thank you. The materials used for the float are broad spectrum UV proof—practical for both myself and my fellow redheads. 

If you're concerned this is a campaign that won't deliver, don't be. Greenbaum and Felton reassure that, "At the end of the day...it's an inflatable pink coffin. You can trust us."

Greenbaum and Felton are SCAD grads that began working together on side projects during their time in school. After graduation, Greenbaum worked as a custom lighting designer and office space interiors designer, and Felton worked as a high end custom furniture designer for private residential projects. 

Both designers still work on their own separate projects, but they're excited to collaborate once again with Pom Pom. "We really just wanted an outlet," says Felton. "An outlet for weird ideas—satire, comedy, and strangeness. We also wanted to design objects that could ultimately fall between the lines of commercial object and art—taken with a huge grain of Himalayan salt. We've got a lot more ideas for Pom Pom, so this is definitely not a one trick Pony."

So, there it is. Expect more from these guys in the future, but for now RIP in your pink inflatable coffins.

RUNVI: Smart Insoles that Track Performance & Help Reverse Bad Running Habits

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-07-15 22:13

Knee injuries, ankle injuries and straight-up laziness are three common excuses for living a lifestyle without running, but according to NWTN Co-Founder Daniel von Waldthausen, two of those three excuses can simply stem from running improperly our entire lives. While NWTN's smart insole, RUNVI, can't help in the laziness department, what it can potentially help with is injury prevention. 

The RUNVI system offers accurate technique and performance measurement in addition to real-time coaching and personalized dynamic training plans. The result is a full, personalized running profile for each user. "It's like having a personal run coach in your ear at all times," says Waldthausen. In fact, RUNVI is even more accurate than a real run coach when it comes to statistics, as it can analyze your movements and form straight from real-time data.

RUNVI sets itself apart from other fitness tracking apps like Nike+ with its advanced metrics, which include cadence, foot-strike pattern and symmetry. Foot strike pattern data is especially invaluable to have as a runner because it allows you to correct bad habits like heel-striking in real-time.

A retrospective case-control analysis of 2002 running injuries.

The system's accompanying app seems comprehensive and pleasant to use, but what's most interesting to us is the physical component of the system. Instead of bulky clip-on "wearable" hardware, the RUNVI team took things to the ground—where the actual running happens—and developed an insole packed with 30 advanced pressure sensors that continuously measure data. The CORE Lithium Ion and USB rechargeable battery pack is tiny, rechargeable and removable, and it's strategically located beneath the arch of the user's foot.

When you think tech-embedded insoles, the first word that comes to mind is bulk. Much to our surprise, RUNVI insoles actually weigh 100 Gramm (0.22 Lbs), which is almost the same as regular insoles. According to Waldthausen, we've become accustomed to thicker, cushier insoles that may be comfortable but actually end up making our feet work in ways they aren't intended to. RUNVI insoles were designed thinner to combat this, which in turn allows for some of that extra tech weight.

Rechargable battery - it looks huge in this photo, but in real life, it's very tiny.

Even so, Waldthausen notes that the design team's main challenge was designing pressure sensors and a battery pack thin enough to keep the insoles comfortable and light. A main battery feature to note is that insoles can be replaced while keeping the same CORE battery pack, so if you need replacements after wearing the fabric and sensors down, that is possible.

When asked about how the idea behind RUNVI differs from typical wearable fitness devices, Waldthausen immediately pointed out the personalized nature of the system. He noted the arbitrary nature of the 10,000 step-per-day goal we all have engrained in our minds because of the Fitbit model—why do we all have the same goal when we're individuals with custom fitness needs?

At press time, RUNVI has already received $108,065 on Kickstarter—much more than their $58,738 goal. There's less than one days left to pledge, so get on it if you're interested

Design Job: Transform Complex Data Into Indispensable Products as an Interaction Designer at Bloomberg

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-07-15 22:13

Bloomberg's UX, Product and Technology teams are committed to creating valuable and meaningful user experiences for our customers. We transform complex data and work processes into products that are indispensable to our users. Bloomberg is looking for an experienced Interaction Designer with experience designing complex transactional systems into intuitive and valuable products.

View the full design job here

Energy Coming Out of the Ground

Design News - Fri, 2018-07-13 05:00

Living on a volcanic island on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” has its pluses and minuses. On the downside are frequent earthquakes and the potential for a really big one that could wipe out whole towns and cause Tsunamis. On the plus side, all that molten rock just under the Earth’s surface is a tremendous source of heat energy. Taking advantage of that almost free energy is something at which the island nation of New Zealand has excelled.

Recently, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced a collaboration agreement with New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to develop advanced and cost-effective geothermal energy technologies. The US is the world leader in geothermal energy with more than 3.8 gigawatts (GW) online. New Zealand has about 1.07 GW of geothermal capacity, supplying more than 17% of the country’s electricity needs.

On the Plates

New Zealand’s geothermal energy production is centered in the Taupo and Kawerau regions on the country’s north island. Because the island sits over two active tectonic plates—the Indo-Australian and the Pacific Plates—the energy coming from the ground has been used for hundreds of years. Thermal springs and spa baths were set up by early European settlers in the Rotorua area not far from Taupo in the 1870s. New Zealand began producing electricity from geothermal energy in 1958.

Geothermal interest in the US is also centered along a region where tectonic plates meet. Geothermal electricity generation started in the US in 1960 in California. Since then, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii have also added geothermal electrical generating capability, although California still has the vast majority. Currently, the US has 25% of the world’s total of online geothermal electrical generating capacity.

The Wairakei Geothermal Power Plant in New Zealand. (Image source: Contact Energy)

Simple in Theory

The principle behind geothermal electricity generation is simple. Heat below the ground is used to superheat water, which can be used to power a steam turbine and electrical generator. Because minerals are often dissolved in the superheated water, a heat exchanger can be used to transfer the energy to a secondary system that actually powers the electricity-producing steam turbine. These minerals can cause problems, as they form deposits that build up over time and can reduce the system efficiency. The dissolved minerals can also be extracted, creating an additional revenue stream.

Unlike wind and solar power, which are intermittent, geothermal is a renewable carbon-free energy source that is constant, day or night and with or without wind. “Geothermal represents a clean, nearly inexhaustible baseload source of electricity, which makes it a viable renewable energy source both here in the United States and worldwide,” said Timothy Unruh, deputy assistant secretary for renewable power at the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), in a DOE press release.



The new collaboration agreement between the US and New Zealand is wide-ranging. In addition to accelerating the availability of geothermal technologies worldwide, it also looks to examine areas of interest such as induced seismic activity and mineral recovery. The proposed areas of joint development and improvement include “…modeling tools, mineral recovery, direct use applications, and supercritical geothermal systems,” according to the DOE release. “This new research partnership with New Zealand will connect experts from both countries to collaborate on a mutually beneficial basis to advance and accelerate the development of geothermal technologies,” said the DOE’s Unruh.

The US and New Zealand agreement was announced during a June 2018 meeting in Taupo of the International Partnership of Geothermal Technology (IPGT). The IPGT was formed by the US in 2008 and New Zealand joined the organization in 2011. Other IPGT members include Australia, Switzerland, and Iceland.

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.

The Critical Power Education You Need Now. Join our in-depth conference program to learn about managing risk, reducing operational costs, maximizing microgrids, and much more. Critical Power Expo. Sept. 11-13, 2018, in Novi, MI. Register for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company UBM.


If You're an Engineer, You Need to Be Attending Trade Shows

Design News - Fri, 2018-07-13 04:00
(Image source: Pixabay / TeroVesalainen) 

In this age, you can find out everything you want to know about anything with just a few keystrokes. There are processes, materials, components, and modules for which you can get nearly instantaneous data of all types (pricing, availability, specification, reviews, etc.) via simple online searches. The problem is you have to know what you are searching for. The Internet is a true wonder for researching when you know what you are looking for. But what if something is missing?

I must admit that it has been quite some time since I attended a fairly large trade show. Having not gone for many years, I realized there are some very important things I was missing by not getting out of the house every now and then. I've spoken at a few Embedded Systems Conferences (ESCs) hosted by UBM, the parent company of Design News and several other media brands. There are often trade shows happening as a companion to the conference content. When, for the first time in many years, I attended and walked the floor of a trade show, my initial expectation was that I was going to see vendor after vendor showing me things I already knew about (yawn).

Indeed, many of the technologies, capabilities, products, etc. on display were things I knew existed (and many were vendors I also knew quite well). The “ah ha” moment came when I started to discover things I did not know existed!


Without attending this trade show, I would not have known to research some of the products and services that I saw. For example, I found pre-packaged sensors targeting one market for which I saw applications in our company in totally different markets. I discovered various types of rapid prototyping systems of which I had previously been unaware. And I found new suppliers of products and services to supplement those with which I was already familiar.

With all that in mind, take into account that some of these companies are relatively small or new. Such companies may have a limited web presence.

What does this mean? Well, even if I was looking for the products or services they offer, these new or small suppliers may not show up readily in a web search (or might have turned up three or four pages deep, minimizing the chance that I would discover them). If I had not physically attended the event, I would never have found them.

Today's Insights. Tomorrow's Technologies
ESC returns to Minneapolis, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2018, with a fresh, in-depth, two-day educational program designed specifically for the needs of today's embedded systems professionals. With four comprehensive tracks, new technical tutorials, and a host of top engineering talent on stage, you'll get the specialized training you need to create competitive embedded products. Get hands-on in the classroom and speak directly to the engineers and developers who can help you work faster, cheaper, and smarter. Click here to submit your registration inquiry today!

Part of being a top-notch engineer is gaining knowledge throughout one’s career. Being informed about what is available or new is a part of that knowledge base that an engineer wants to continuously build.

Certainly, some of the things you might see at a trade show are not solving an immediate problem. However, they might help with a problem you might you need to solve tomorrow. If you expect to solve problems in new and creative ways you have to pack your memory with a deep knowledge of not only what is state-of-the-art today, but also what will be in the future.

This does not imply the need to go to as many trade shows as possible each year, but every engineer should get to at least one or two per year. My company is fortunate to be in relatively easy proximity of New York City and the surrounding suburbs, where there are multiple events held throughout the year, making trade show attendance a relatively low out-of-pocket cost. Hopefully, you are at a company that appreciates the intrinsic value of having team members attend shows.

I have advised my management team to find opportunities to cycle our engineering team members into events similar to the ones I recently attended. If you are a manager, I highly recommend a similar strategy. You might be surprised at the results.

Mitch Maiman is the President and Cofounder of Intelligent Product Solutions (IPS). He honed his deep knowledge of product design on the strength of a 30-year career with companies that manufacture commercially successful products for the consumer, industrial, and DoD markets. Prior to launching IPS, Mitch was VP of Engineering at Symbol Technologies. He can be reached at mitchm@ips-yes.com.

This Joinery System Uses Magnets to Activate Screws Captured INSIDE Your Workpiece

Core 77 - Thu, 2018-07-12 19:14

This is the craziest joinery system I've ever seen. Lamello's Invis system of knockdown fasteners consists of male and female parts that are sunk into your workpieces-to-be-joined. Once the pieces are lined up, a magnet inside of a plastic box is then attached to your drill. You spin the drill near the fasteners, and the screw in the male part starts turning. Here's a demo of a guy using it to attach stair treads:

View the full content here

Getting Every Last Drop of Product Out of a Bottle, Part 2: The Zero Waste Cap

Core 77 - Thu, 2018-07-12 19:14

It's a little absurd that it's the 21st century, and we're still filling nearly-empty shampoo bottles with water and shaking them.

We looked at some design solutions to fully evacuate a bottle's contents here. An addition to this series is the helpful Zero Waste Cap:

Of course, we wouldn't need third-party objects like this if the original manufacturers would actually consider how their products are used.

CeramicSpeed's Bearing-Based Chainless Bicycle System

Core 77 - Thu, 2018-07-12 19:14

In conjunction with the University of Colorado's Mechanical Engineering Department, bicycle parts manufacturer CeramicSpeed has launched an ambitious initiative: To produce a bicycle with no chain nor derailleur.

At this year's Eurobike show they unveiled Driven, a 13-speed "prototype" ("concept bike" would be more accurate, as the thing doesn't actually work) that uses bearings and a wicked-looking 13-ring cog that you don't want to slam your shin into:

Driven creates 49% less friction when compared to the market leading chain and derailleur drivetrain. A traditional chain and derailleur drivetrain contains eight points of sliding friction, which is generated from the articulation of the chain at these points. Driven impressively eliminates all eight points of sliding friction.

Naysayers and skeptics will say the cost, plus the additional weight of whatever housing system would be required to keep mud out, would nullify the efficiency of the design. And there's probably a very good reason that bicycle chains have persisted since their introduction in the late 1800s. But ultimately, innovation comes about by people and companies spending a lot of money to try out new things. So I'd say we learn what we can from this, and be grateful that it's not our money.

Plus I can't deny that if they get that pinion working, it'd be awfully cool to see in action.

Elon Musk's Tiny "Submarine" Turned Down During Thailand Cave Rescue Mission

Core 77 - Thu, 2018-07-12 19:14

Have you ever frantically designed a project over the weekend only for it to be shot down the following Monday? Well, Elon Musk and his team of SpaceX engineers feel you. In light of the flooded cave incident in Thailand, Musk put his team to work on Saturday designing a solution for the rescue mission in the form of a tiny submarine that could maneuver through the tight passages of the cave. On Saturday, Musk tweeted out the following details:

"Got more great feedback from Thailand. Primary path is basically a tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull. Light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps. Extremely robust."

Once the rescue device was complete the next day, the team tested it for a few hours before Musk got on a plane to Thailand. However, by that point, around eight of the twelve boys had already been rescued. Thai officials team deemed Musk's submarine unnecessary, as the method they were already using proved to work just fine and the third and final rescue mission had already been planned. 

Image via ars.Image via ars.

In terms of specs, Musk responded to the following tweet saying that the tube is only 31 cm (around 1 foot) in diameter—a few cm smaller than the cave's reported tightest points. One of the main goals of the device was to ease panic for kids with no experience navigating through tight passages.

I've seen some reports that the narrowest part of the cave is roughly 72 cm by 38 cm (see attached diagram for instance). What is the diameter of the tube? If it's over 38 cm, wouldn't it get stuck in this spot? Or are these diagrams wrong? pic.twitter.com/ppO6wRJROb

— Timothy B. Lee (@binarybits) July 8, 2018 ">

Many people are praising Musk's humanitarian efforts, while others are skeptical of his motives, calling him out on Twitter for using the horrible situation as a PR stunt to gain global attention:

Why is Elon Musk trying to hijack the spotlight from the amazing Thai rescue team through his unsolicited insertion into the mission? If he really wanted to help he could easily have been more subtle, just like countless other international cave experts and divers. #tasteless

— Harshit Gupta (@hkrgupta) July 10, 2018 ">

I studied engineering. Anyone who's known to have a basic knowledge of geography and engineering know that Elon Musk's "Escape Pod Submarine" is not helpful at this present situation. Still he played along, trying to seek global attention. @elonmusk you're wrong! #ThaiCaveResue

— Vishnu Narayanan (@NarayananVI) July 10, 2018 ">

Either way, there are two morals here: One, timing is everything. And two, even Elon Musk and SpaceX—who freaking had the resources and manpower to bring a working mini submarine to life in only a day and a half and bring it halfway across the world—get rejected sometimes. Hopefully there won't be a need for a tiny rescue submarine in the future, but if there is, rest assured Batman—I mean Elon Musk—will be first to arrive on the scene.


Source: ars.

Reader Submitted: "The Planet" Envisions an Atmosphere of Confidence and Trust in the Workplace 

Core 77 - Thu, 2018-07-12 19:14

We made The Planet to manage open-plan offices and create a meeting room, lounge zone and working space. Imagine an ordinary office space with hundreds of people, buzzing around like bees. How can you focus on work in such an environment? Should you just shout over all co-workers while talking to your business partner?

View the full project here