2019-11-18 3 min read


Planning & Strategy.

  • Richard is looking to talk to someone who has experience manufacturing consumer products in Mexico. Reach out to him here.
  • Adidas will close two "speedfactories" in the US and Germany, relocating production to Asia. "Just three years ago, the Bavaria-based group had hailed its speedfactory concept -- which uses highly automated processes to make shoes more quickly, more customised and closer to sales outlets -- as proof that manufacturing jobs could return to high-wage countries." Note, this article mentions "4D printing," which was a provocative (and now largely forgotten) idea championed by Skylar Tibbits in his 2013 TED talk. While Adidas does have a shoe called the Futurecraft 4D, it's actually just a shoe with a 3D printed midsole.
  • A good, and relatable, little Twitter thread on the negative consequences of (mostly B2B) products that are purchased by administrators rather than end users.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

  • A good, comprehensive guide to compostable plastic packaging. TL;DR: "if recovery is your highest priority, paper mailers are the best choice because access to recycling and composting is much more readily available."
  • Adam Minter on car seats, which are widely claimed (without evidence, by their manufacturers and retailers) to expire. "I figured that Car-Safety.org would have links to studies showing, for example, increased risk between a used car seat and a new one. But I was wrong!...So I wrote back to [retailer] Target and told the company. Hours later, its website language changed again, this time to read: 'According to car-safety.org, many manufacturers recommend that car seats expire around the six-year mark.'...But anyone trying to locate data supporting that recommendation will be disappointed. Car-Safety.org — like the manufacturers who support it — just makes unsubstantiated claims."

Distribution & Logistics.

  • Gazprom's "major projects" page for the Novy Port field, an installation (what an odd euphemism, no?) that lies right about on the Arctic circle. I find myself quite impressed at Gazprom's website, especially as I don't really see the how they benefit from sharing information so attractively; is it just for their (non Russian government) shareholders? Anyway, the photos are stunning/horrifying, and I'm reminded just how good (and uncomfortable) it is to browse sites like Gazprom's in order to remind oneself just how the world works.
  • NASA's 2019-2020 free + open source software catalog.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.

  • Some *really* fantastic simulated videos of food being cooked, taken from a SIGGRAPH paper. These are totally mesmerizing - whether you're interested in FEA at all, it's super fun to watch a multiphysics simulation of a cookie baking and a loaf of bread being torn in half.
  • I'm looking for a superior metric tape measure; send recommendations here. Note, dual unit doesn't count - it's gotta be all metric :)
  • A summary of a new working paper which argues that fancy, market-rate housing (think of the glassy condos going up in most affluent cities in the US) actually does "help relieve pressure on rents across the market, including in less-affluent neighborhoods." I'm on the hunt for more writing like this; send it!


  • Kernmantle is a term used to describe modern (almost always synthetic) ropes which contain a twisted core (from the German word 'kern" meaning 'core') and a braided sheath (from 'mantel' meaning 'sheath'). The core provides tensile strength; the sheath protects the core.

On the VFX in Pixar's "Piper," each frame of which "is composed of millions of grains of sand, each one of them around 5000 polygons."

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