The Mysterious, Murky Story Behind Soy-Sauce Packets: How Chinese takeout, a Jewish businessman from the Bronx, and NASA-approved packaging have shaped the 50-year reign of a well-loved American condiment (The Atlantic) [more inside]
An industrial designer explains the manufacturing techniques used to make the Watch.
Apple is the world's foremost manufacturer of goods. At one time, this statement had to be caged and qualified with modifiers such as "consumer goods" or "electronic goods," but last quarter, Apple shipped a Boeing 787's weight worth of iPhones every 24 hours. When we add the rest of the product line to the mix, it becomes clear that Apple's supply chain is one of the largest scale production organizations in the world.[more inside]
This is Suame Magazine. A vast, open-air industrial district in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city. Here, 200,000 skilled workers manufacture everything from bolts to tanker trucks by hand. A million dollars passes through the factories and workshops here every day, and it’s the place where most of the country’s laborers learn their trades: the heart of Ghana’s informal economy.Photos and Story
A visit to Baotou Lake where rare earth minerals, used in "green" products and electronics, are processed. [more inside]
A small scale shoe company called American Duchess naturally wanted to make their shoes in the USA. Here is why they were not able.
In case you haven't had your fill of pre-industrial craftsmanship in a while, watch some videos of folks at Colonial Williamsburg & Jamestown doing their things: A gunsmith, a silversmith, a cabinet maker, and a glass blower. [more inside]
The Kreyos Meteor Smartwatch has an extremely impressive feature set: Voice and gesture controls. Full integration with iOS, Android, and WP8. Shockproof, waterproof, accelerometer and activity tracker built in. Not a hard product to sell; In fact, it's a marketing person's dream. But after an extremely successful Indiegogo ($100,000 goal, $1.5 million raised) it was time to build the things, and they had no clue how to do it. [more inside]
Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, flew teenage fashion bloggers, Anniken Jørgensen, Frida Ottesen and Ludvig Hambro, to the Southeast Asian country’s capital of Phnom Penh, where they experienced a modicum of a Cambodian textile worker’s life for a month in 2014. Their experience is the subject of a five-part reality show available online, titled "Sweatshop - Deadly Fashion." [more inside]
I AM INTO THIS. Who are the Cambridge Satchel Company and why should we care? The company started in 2008, and they sell old-style 1950s/60s era British school satchels. Originally meant for kids (the founder states, "I honestly thought that it would be schoolchildren and parents buying my bags!"), the satchels have become a more modest and budget-friendly alternative to designer bags. As a small startup company, they relied on enthusiastic word-of-mouth from the internet to bolster their profits; Deane states,"I think online was the only way that we could really engage and get traction really quickly" (warning: autoplaying video). This is the perfect storm of internet obsession: you click the link, and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. [more inside]
A putter is a 'putter together of scissors.' This short documentary by Shaun Bloodworth follows the work of Cliff Denton, who works at Ernest Wright & Sons of Sheffield, one of the last remaining hand manufacturers of scissors. More from the BBC, with Eric Stones, the other Master Puttertogetherer at the factory.
Inside the Proportion>London factory in Walthamstow. - Not an invasion force, honest.
The Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. While its home, the grand Andrew Carnegie mansion in Manhattan, is currently undergoing a major renovation, you can still experience the richness of the collections through its Object of the Day blog. Recent highlights range from scratch & sniff wallpaper to the elegant simplicity of an Eames dining chair.
Because of nationwide shortages, Washington hospitals are rationing, hoarding, and bartering critical nutrients premature babies and other patients need to survive. Doctors are reporting conditions normally seen only in developing countries, and there have been deaths. How could this be allowed to happen?[more inside]
A look at the post-war middle class, brought to you by the editors of Life, and Fortune Magazines.
Opportunties Unlimited (via)
Opportunties Unlimited (via)
Chicago is bringing the co-operation in all kinds of ways these days. First the opening of New Era Windows Cooperative last week, now this: [more inside]
Do you need some gaskets, but aren't sure where to get the kind you need? Industrial Gasket Resource can help. And it's just one part of The Industrial Resource Network. [more inside]
Andrew "bunnie" Huang (previously) offered MIT students insight on how to bring electronic designs from paper to manufactured product. He summarized the process in a four part series: The Quotation, On Design for Manufacturing, Industrial Design for Startups, and Picking (and Maintaining) a Partner. [more inside]
After their annual audit showed a large spike in underage workers, Apple made good on its promise to take more responsibility for its suppliers.
The iEconomy: Apple and Technology Manufacturing. Since January, the New York Times has been running a series of articles "examining the challenges posed by increasingly globalized high-tech industries," with a focus on Apple's business practices. The seventh article in the series was published today: In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword. Related: For Software, Cracks in the Patent System and Fighters in the Patent War. [more inside]
Boingboing has the short version of a sad story in which some young independent designers have an unexpectedly successful Kickstarter for a novel idea for a pen. Young designers turn to Joiga, an American-Chinese manufacturing firm that "minimizes the risk of turning an idea into a market-ready product." Joiga underdelivers, causing massive delays for the designers. One year later, a new "men's gift" company offers a bad copy of the designers' pen made with the same plans at the same factories. The sad and sorry punchline? The manufacturing company and the men's gift company are run by the same guy, Allen Arseneau. Long version at Notcot.
An extended look inside [30:21] the production facility of innovative Swedish "hypercar" manufacturer Koenigsegg.
Mark Sweep describes an interesting game from his childhood which helps explain why companies move and keep their manufacturing in China.
“I bought into this idea for a long time that it was superior labor productivity that caused most manufacturing job losses,” said Rob Atkinson, of Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. “Then I began to dig into the numbers.” An upcoming report argues that the price savings that U.S. factories have realized from outsourcing have incorrectly shown up as gains in U.S. output and productivity. This bias may have accounted for as much as half of the growth of U.S. manufacturing output from 1997 to 2007. (sl Wash. Post link to print version so everyone can read it.)
The Light Bulb Conspiracy is a documentary about disposable printers, light bulbs and everything else, investigating the implications of the business model and industrial design philosophy of Planned Obsolescence that drives and shapes our economy.
Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037, a documentary by Ben Niles. "Invention for 900 Hands", a nine-part series in The New York Times. "K 2571: The Making of a Steinway Grand", an article in The Atlantic Monthly. [more inside]
The PC industry is built around an idea of almost infinite variation: different Wi-Fi adaptors, different Ethernet chipsets, different GPUs, different USB3 controllers. This variety is then reflected in the systems available from manufacturers—and more importantly, it's reflected in the way the systems are actually built. … The big reason that HP wants to get out of the PC business is that it's simply not very profitable for HP—and that's true for all the major PC OEMs, Cupertino excepted. Cheap PCs are certainly important for making computing accessible, but they also mean that PC vendors have made themselves vulnerable: endless price cuts and a failure to emphasize the value of a quality product have cut revenues and slashed profitability. Desperate to compete on pricing and pricing alone, the mass-market PC OEMs have ended up cutting their own throats.Ars technica explains why the PC industry is having such a difficult time trying to build a competitor to the MacBook Air.
Why Amazon Can't Make A Kindle In the USA. Does It Really Matter That Amazon Can't Manufacture A Kindle In the USA? Amazon & Kindle Part 3: It's Not Just Manufacturing! A cogent look at why today's prevailing approach to cost and manufacturing is wrongheaded.
"I had to stand in front of 92 people and say 'Not only do you not have a job anymore, you don't have a house anymore'". On June 20th, the United States Gypsum Corporation will shut down its plant in Empire, Nevada, the last Company town in America.
Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend - "For US manufacturing to make sense, factories must make extensive use of automation. That's getting easier, given that the cost of robots with comparable capabilities has decreased precipitously in the past two decades." [more inside]
When you receive your Logonom logo, you’re not just opening a symbol, a brand or a small representation of you, you’re also opening peace of mind. And that’s something we’ve worked hard for 113 years to pack into each and every box.
How Ink Is Made is a visually stunning, SLYT look at the involved, far-more-physical-than-I-would've-thought ink-making process.
Hale "Bonddad" Stewart shows that U.S. Manufacturing is NOT Dead, but says that to
zombify resurrect rejuvenate it America should look into Industrial Policy. Meanwhile, in Detroit, a President is saying that the automobile industry bailout prompted an "industrial revival", a Senator is calling it "industrial policy" and an economist is saying even if it is, "it's the most successful...in American history". All of which prompts the age-old question.... [more inside]
How to Make an American Job Before It's Too Late. Andy Grove, from Intel, writes about America's lost manufacturing sector. [more inside]
Andrew Shane Huang is a 35 year old hardware hacker, known to some as bunnie, and others as that guy who hacked the Xbox and went on to write a book about it. Finding the hidden key to the Xbox was an enjoyable distraction while he worked on getting his PhD in Electrical Engineering from MIT as part of Project Aries. Since then, he has written for (and been written about) in Make Magazine, has giving talks on the strategy of hardware openness and manufacturing practices in China, as experienced with the development of the opensource ambient "internet-based TV" called Chumby. When he's not busy on such excursions, bunnie writes about hacking (and more specifically, Chumby hacking), technology in China, and even biology in exquisite detail on the bunnie studios blog (previously). [more inside]
Kinktrepeneur, former evangelical missionary, and “Rent-a-meanie” the Twisted Monk: "I guess is some ways, I’m finally fulfilling the calling I had when I was a kid and being that evangelist, changing the world one bedroom at a time." ... [most links contain no nudity but might be NSFW anyway] [more inside]
Health and safety issues at an 'investment casting' (AKA 'lost wax') factory near Ningbo. Seventh in a series of photo essays (1 2 3 4 5 6) by Hong Kong-based independent photographer Alex Hofford, looking at life and work in the factories of southern China where the world's stuff gets made.
Wired magazine has a long and detailed article about the future of manufacturing. Short version: the same kind of democratization that technology has effected in publishing, music, video, etc., is opening up design and manufacturing to anyone who wants to participate. [more inside]
Nanoparticles often get a bad rap in popular media. From discredited scenarios (grey goo) to more plausible concerns (cancer), often the emphasis in reporting is on its risks rather than its potential rewards. But this has been a good week for the tiny science. [more inside]
34 industries, 62,000 stalls, 320,000 commodities for sale, 4 million square meters of selling space: welcome to the world-famous Yiwu Wholesale Market in the Zhejiang Province of China, "where Santa Claus comes to shop." [more inside]
The Amish Hackers - How the Amish modify modern technology to meet their needs, and the motivation behind those needs.
Chinese manufacturers are setting up shop in the U.S. due to a weak dollar, energy shortages, tax credits, and a desire to compete globally.
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