Something that I'm curious about: Do we, as humans, know more about the mean time between failure on traditional mechanical parts (cartridge ball bearings, for example) or computer components (say, CPUs or DRAM)? I'm sure *someone* has an answer to this; please send :)
I'm testing out two new gloves for assembly work: the Hyflex 11-801 and the Hyflex 11-600.
The most clicked link in last week's issue (~19% of opens! That's a lot of you.) was the photo of The Prepared's pencils. If you clicked on it and *didn't* get yourself a paid subscription, I'd love if you would give me a little feedback here. And if you *are* a paid subscriber and haven't gotten your pencils yet, they're on the way!
Planning & Strategy.
- My interview with Connector Supplier about how The Public Radio managed - and then eliminated - connectors in our assembly. “In the US, we like to think that ‘genuine’ things can be ‘guaranteed’ to work together, but in reality it’s on me as a product engineer to rigorously test every mechanical connection in my product. This holds whether I’m buying from China, Germany, or from across the street.”
- Tesla is accused of targeting more senior employees in their most recent round of layoffs.
- Toyota/Denso's Tri-Ad is working on an open source mapping platform.
- Some pretty meta biohacking: "A group of researchers from the University of Washington has shown for the first time that it’s possible to encode malicious software into physical strands of DNA, so that when a gene sequencer analyzes it the resulting data becomes a program that corrupts gene-sequencing software and takes control of the underlying computer."
Making & Manufacturing.
- Some very nice videos of precision sheet metal parts being made on press brakes.
- Henkel is developing 3D printing silicone resins on Origin's open photopolymerization platform. Note, Origin is a sponsor of The Prepared.
- Milz's Joyn Machine, a pretty cool looking CNC router/milling machine for long wood parts with lots of machined features.
- Ferritic nitrocarburizing "is a range of proprietary case hardening processes that diffuse nitrogen and carbon into ferrous metals at sub-critical temperatures during a salt bath." Used a lot on firearms, it's a process that makes ferrous parts hard and black.
- CADWOLF is an interesting looking integrated math/documentation/CAD platform. If anyone has experience using CADWOLF, I'd love to hear about it.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- Recently I became aware of Fitzgerald and their "glider kits" - a company and product line I was previously unaware of. Truckers (mostly small time owner-operators) buy a new truck cab, chassis, rear end & wiring from a large OEM - Freightliner, Peterbilt, whatever. Then they buy a refurbished old engine and have it installed on the new truck. From their perspective, Fitzgerald is in the business of extending the engines' lives and creating more efficient vehicles from less efficient ones. But they also provide a loophole through which truckers can avoid modern emissions tests and keep dirty trucks on the road. Fitzgerald is apparently a pretty flush business; see also their recent political donations.
- More PCC streetcar restoration, this time in El Paso.
Distribution & Logistics.
- Chinese companies are shipping shiitake "logs" (blocks of compressed sawdust which have been inoculated with shiitake spores) to the US to be harvested and sold (with "Product of the USA" stickers).
- A "coalition of giant brands" called Loop is planning a "zero-waste platform" for reusable CPG containers/packaging.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- Backblaze's 2018 hard drive failure stats.
- Fictiv's 2019 State of Hardware survey.
- On the Exponent podcast, a good explanation of the Apple-Facebook flurry this week. Basically, Facebook is shady and was also clearly violating Apple's developer rules, and Apple punished them for it. This makes many of us feel good, but counting on Apple to defend some pretty basic privacy concerns (don't pay teens so that you can spy on them) seems... a little naive.
- Reply All on how robocallers know where your phone physically is.
- Sidewalk Labs will sell a bunch of cell phone data to urban planners.
- Less than 3% of Americans have used Bitcoin to purchase something in the last month.
- Language Log on SNL on air traffic control in Glasgow.
- How to use a paper towel.