Archive for the 'General' Category

Wired: 1 Million Workers. 90 Million iPhones. 17 Suicides. Who’s to Blame?

In Wired issue 19.03, editor at large for Joel Johnson visits the 1-million-employee factory (er, city) in China where the iPhone is manufactured. Along with the 90 million phones, there were 17 suicides–so many that the Foxconn plant in Shenzhen installed nets around the perimeters of its tallest building to prevent workers from jumping off. What does this say about our thirst for the latest technology at disposable prices? Is this push for faster, better and cheaper costing folks their lives? Are we to blame? Even just a little?

[Wired article]

Fakin’ It: 3M’s DI-NOC Architectural Finishes

If you’re trying to mimic a material for a presentation model, you may want to check out 3M’s DI-NOC Architectural Finishes. With over 600 patterns ranging from metallics, fabrics and carbon fiber, these films may give you an opportunity to try out how a particular finish might look before committing serious money in materials and fabrication. In addition to architectural applications (think fake metallic wall in posh, overpriced eatery), these films are being sold as huge automotive stickers that you can apply to your hooptie just in case those ground effects don’t quite get the job done. Check out Sticker City to see what I’m talking about.

Continue reading ‘Fakin’ It: 3M’s DI-NOC Architectural Finishes’

‘Solid Smoke’ Made From Milk Challenges Plastic Foam


There’s a new polymer contender in the effort to find replacements for expandable polystyrene packaging. David A. Schiraldi, chair of the chemistry department at  Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio says that an ultra-light biodegradable foam plastic substitute can be made from the protein in milk and ordinary clay which is freeze-dried into a spongy aerogel. Academics sometimes refer to this family of substances as “solid smoke” and the new discovery could be used in furniture cushions, insulation, packaging, and other products.

The best news: almost a third of the material breaks down within 30 days in the right environment, but it’s described as strong enough to have commercial applications.

[via Design News]

FastCoDesign: Radical Innovation Requires Radical Materials


From Candice-Leigh Baumgardner’s article for Fast Company Design:

Designers have to start getting serious about the power of materials to transform the creative process.

It’s short, sweet and to the point.

[via FastCoDesign]

Geeky Video of the Day: How A Tire Is Made

“A tire is round, and it is black…”

I wish every materials and manufacturing video was done like this… They have the live footage right beside an animated version for clarity.

Maybe you haven’t wondered how a tire is made, but just in case…

Cyclists’ Airbag Helmets Bursts Forth from Stylish Collar

This self-inflating air-helmet was designed by Swedes Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin as a university thesis project. Meaning “chieftain” in Swedish, Hövding is a collar which contains the pretty amazing air, helium to inflate it and sensors which tell the Hövding when to fire. The sensor unit consists of gyroscopes and accelerometers which constantly monitor movement and deploy to bag when you’re in danger. The electronics are charged via USB (of course, and the firmware can also be updated via the same port) and you switch it on by zipping the collar shut around your neck.

With a car airbag, the time to fire is obvious – when impact is detected. But as you see in the video, there are many ways a cyclist can fall that look similar to normal, safe activities in other contexts (like doing an endo over the handlebars and falling forward is a lot like bending down to lock your front wheel, for instance). To eliminate false positives, Haupt and Alstin carried out extensive testing with both dummies and – amazingly – stunt men and women.

As a cyclist myself, I never go biking without my helmet. So why wear this instead of a helmet? Style is the first thing that comes to mind. You can change the covers of the collar to match your outfit, and you won’t get helmet head. But at the end of the day, wrapping this thing around your neck vs a helmet is kinda six of one…

One other nice feature: it learns from your past mistakes. When you hook up the hood to a USB port, you can choose to upload your deployments using an on-board “black-box” which keeps the last ten-seconds of sensor info in a buffer and saves it to memory on impact. This information is then aggregated to improve the performance of the software.

[Hövding website – English translation via Google Translate]

[via Wired Gadget Lab]

DIY 3D Printing With A DLP Projector

So Junior Veloso just decides he wants to build his own 3D printer using visible light. His solution is to use a DLP projector to cure visible light-sensitive resin. Just like stereolithography, the rig builds the part on a platten coated with a thin (.01mm) layer of light-curable resin where the projector projects the shape to be built.

I would think that if you had a projector with a high enough resolution (right now he’s using a 1024×768 projector), this might be faster than the mirror-aimed laser used for SLAs since the entire layer would be cured simultaneously. So far, his early samples are pretty nice. Take a look at Junior’s progress on his blog.

[via Hack a Day]