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Predicting technology doesn’t make it yours. Tame it to own it!

Blank Solid White 3D Billboard on Cloudy Blue Sky. Outdoor Advertising Theme.

Blank Solid White 3D Billboard on Cloudy Blue Sky. Outdoor Advertising Theme.

“Edison didn’t invent electricity, Apple didn’t invent the computer desktop, Google didn’t invent the self-driving car, blah, blah, blah,…… “  people bicker about who invented what first, but unfortunately, its not about who thought of an idea first, its about who brings it to life.

You need to predict the application of the technology, demonstrate the need, show you can make it work elegantly realistically and within costs, get it into the people’s hands and make them love it, and only then – YOU OWN IT!

It takes a lot of courage to believe in an idea that has not been proven yet, invest in it, dedicate resources to it, spend money on it, go through all of the set backs and work arounds, all without the guarantee that it will work or be a success.  Thats why there are so many followers rather than leaders.

Most technologies which seem so cutting edge such as; drone delivery of packages by Amazon, self driving cars by Google, desirable electric vehicles by Tesla, personal computing by Apple, touch screen phones by Apple, we not invented by those companies.  In fact, the technologies and the idea that they would be diffused was around far before each of them.  However it took a visionary company with the drive to make it work well and determination to get it to market for a fair price to make the technology accessible.  At that moment They Own the Technological Bragging Rights.  Everyone else jumps in shortly after, once they see the water is fine and each then begins pointing fingers about who did what first.  However, it is the first one to dive in that claims the ribbon.

Many ideas that science fiction writers, theoretical scientists, movie makers have dreamed about for our future are actually coming to life, but the credit ultimately goes to those who tamed the technology, brought it to the masses in an elegant way that resolves real issues.


Do you agree?   

What other existing technologies were tamed by the a visionary driven company?There are many historic examples, like flying machines by the Wright Brothers…..

What new great technologies need to be tamed to become integral parts of our daily lives?

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Solutions to bring Manufacturing back to the USA

USmanufactureWe can do it. It is possible to profitably produce goods in the USA and bring production back home, and grow our economy while doing so.

Having one of the largest consumer markets without internal borders, the many advantages of having local production, the multiple cost savings of local production, the trustworthiness of ‘Made in USA’ label all work to compensate for the slightly higher production costs in America.


Many participants will need to begin to change mindsets and contribute to the cause, and as such we CAN find solutions.

Here is a brief list of what is needed from each party to make the move back to USA successful;

Government: incentives to re-build production and to produce in the USA, tax breaks, low-interest loans, incubation and growth incentives.

Manufacturers: pride in developing superior products, research into new techniques, partnership in production, understand the need to be competitive in price and assist in reducing costs.

Designers and Engineers: design for industrialization, design for a leaner less labor-intensive production, work closely with manufacturers to reduce cost, create added value to the products.

Corporation: re-evaluate the pros and cons to justify the extra cost of producing in the states and offset the costs by reducing the many foreseen and unpredictable shipping and import expenses. Focus on products and/or marketing which would result in a higher value from ‘Made in America”.

Big- Box: give incentives to produce in the USA, reap the advantages of immediate and more flexible deliveries, understand the costing challenges and also the savings

Industry: re-build the ‘Made in the USA’ value, by making the most innovative, coolest, well designed, and well made product for the right price.



Manufacturing in Asia has become the go to standard, however there are many less than advantageous aspects of this which may justify a turn back to US production including:

  • Cost of shipping and import duties
  • Unforeseen in shipping and inspections, delays and costs
  • Unforeseen quality of goods upon arrival
  • Lost markets, seasons or opportunities with late or defective goods
  • Cost of money tied up in goods from advanced production to ocean shipment to arrival at distribution center
  • Ineffectiveness of small lots
  • Inability to be flexible nor adapt to last minute requests
  • Rising cost of labor in Asia as they too increase employee safety
  • Rising cost of manufacture in Asia as regulations for materials, emissions, and waste come up to date with environmental requirements.


There are many advantages of actually producing in the USA that can offset cost differences:

  • Flexibility to adapt to last minute requests
  • Just-In-Time production
  • Money not tied up in stockpiling and shipping goods
  • More easily controlled production lots and QC.
  • Guarentee of safe materials.
  • Re-creating “made in America” label and product confidence
  • Ability to produce and ship smaller more targeted lots





Background of USA manufacturing in a nutshell:

America was once a leader in manufacturing, with personalities like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Raymond Loewy, Charles and Ray Eames, etc….

The machine age was a shiny moment in USA’s productive history.  America dominated production from the 1940s-1960s

Unfortunately USA production began to loose its charm and sophistication in the late 70’s.  Europe was making quality product, Asia was making it cheaper, and the USA launched a huge propaganda campaign ‘Buy American” asking the public to ignore the better foreign goods and blindly buy American goods.

In the 80’s Japan studied USA and specifically Detroit production abilities and improved on the production methods to produce better robotic assembly lines, better product and at a low cost.

In the 90’s USA had given up hope of production and found its new niche in innovation design, IP, and great ideas, relying on the outside for production.

Apple, IBM, HP, and many others created great product but produced the brunt overseas.

Currently, the retail model has grown accustomed to cheaper and cheaper prices and become less demanding on quality.

Our suppliers are gaining more and more ability to design and innovate and they own production. The world’s suppliers are poised to completely take over global business by controlling the full development and productive cycle while creating valid product.


Time is ripe for America to take back a piece of leadership in design, innovation, engineering, IP, vision, and production!


Please contribute to this list and discussion and give your thoughts and best practice examples.

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No, I won’t create a variant of your competitor’s product, …..but do you really want that?

Are you on the path to being another me-too company? Planning on imitating the products of the leading competitors and just underbidding them? Bad path, bad strategy. There is always someone else who is going to underbid you and displace you. And what part of your strategy is actually building your brand and creating a value added image of your company?

I have frequently turned down requests to ‘reinterpret’ (read: copy) a competitor’s product, but also frequently helped major companies to understand that this is really not what they wanted and needed in the long run.

They see a successful product by a successful company and want one as well. What they don’t see is what comprises a successful product, and being me-too is not a factor. 

Your company needs innovation, continual innovation, innovation which benefits and improves the lives of your consumers, a corporate strategy and product roadmap, great design, but also the ability to correctly market the designs and promote them. 

Through these above aspects you will begin to build your brand, get the attention of the press and the consumers, you will gain credibility and respect, and as the value of your brand elevates so does the value of your products.

There is no shortcut to creating great innovation and design, its a long path, it requires time and expertise, but done well will give you back results worth a thousand times your investment. capital ROI.

So the next time you want a best selling product, don’t try to imitate the competitors, innovate and innovate with the user(consumer) in mind.

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the wonderfully complex profession of Industrial Design

While evangelizing industrial design I frequently meet potential clients trying to grasp just what it is that I do and ask:  so, are you an engineer or an artist?

a more appropriate question might be:

are you an engineer, an artist, a marketer, an anthropologist, a businessman, a sales expert, a product manager, a manufacturing technician, a materials specialist, an inventor, a sculptor, a brand identity specialist, a strategist, a problem solver, a design thinker, a researcher, a market analyst?

The answer is no,………… but as an industrial designer we need to be proficient in every one of those areas, at different levels.  As a matter of fact the levels of interest and proficiency of each of these determine the type of design practice or offering of each designer.

Ours may be one of the most complex of fields of study and I firmly believe that it is impossible to teach the whole of our profession in 6 years of college and post graduate studies.  It is also one of the most dynamic and gives so much back through continual growth and challenges.


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oh, how I dislike the american measuring system, how much more refined is metric

here is, at least, a handy chart if you do need to convert simple fractions and decimaled US measurements to metric:

how very primitive we are measuring by body parts chopped in half and then half again and again……

Fractional Inches Metric
1/64 .0156 0.396
1/32 .0312 0.79387
3/64 .0468 1.190
1/16 .0625 1.587
5/64 .0781 1.984
3/32 .0937 2.381
7/64 .1093 2.778
1/8 .125 3.175
9/64 .1406 3.571
5/32 .1562 3.968
11/64 .1718 4.365
3/16 .1875 4.762
13/64 .2031 5.159
7/32 .2187 5.556
15/64 .2343 5.953
1/4 .250 6.350
17/64 .2656 6.746
9/32 .2812 7.143
19/64 .2968 7.540
5/16 .3125 7.937
21/64 .3281 8.334
11/32 .3437 8.731
23/64 .3593 9.128
3/8 .375 9.525
25/64 .3906 9.921
13/32 .4062 10.318
27/64 .4218 10.715
7/16 .4375 11.112
29/64 .4531 11.509
15/32 .4687 11.906
31/64 .4843 12.303
1/2 .500 12.700
33/64 .5156 13.096
17/32 .5312 13.493
35/64 .5468 13.890
9/16 .5625 14.287
37/64 .5781 14.684
19/32 .5937 15.081
39/64 .6093 15.478
5/8 .625 15.875
41/64 .6406 16.271
21/32 .6562 16.668
43/64 .6718 17.065
11/16 .6875 17.462
45/64 .7031 17.859
23/32 .7187 18.256
47/64 .7343 18.653
3/4 .750 19.050
49/64 .7656 19.446
25/32 .7812 19.843
51/64 .7968 20.240
13/16 .8125 20.637
53/64 .8281 21.034
27/32 .8437 21.431
55/64 .8593 21.828
7/8 .875 22.225
57/64 .8906 22.621
29/32 .9062 23.018
59/64 .9218 23.415
15/16 .9375 23.812
61/64 .9531 24.209
31/32 .9687 24.606
63/64 .9843 25.003
1 1.000 25.400
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