The Steps of Progress
A path to making things better
It’s easy to argue that much progress has been made in the appliance industry and in the products it makes. We can see, hear, feel and experience the progress that has been made. However, it can be difficult to measure progress in other areas and progress in these areas has had a direct impact on the success of the appliance industry.
For instance, businesses measure their progress by the growth in the percentage of their profits year over year, or quarter over quarter. Progress in technology is often measured by how much easier something becomes for the average person to use and/or how it makes our lives easier.
Logistics plays a starring role in how economies grow and can be measured by improvements in the efficiency, ease and cost effectiveness of how we move products and resources across a global economy—making things cheaper, bolstering trade and relationships between nations and allowing us to enjoy and benefit from things we otherwise could not.
Bring these things together with a few other key elements and they collectively become “the measure of a great society.” One of my favorite quotes on the subject is:
“There is a connection between progress of a society and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles (pronounced p?r-?-kl?z) was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo Da Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was the age of Shakespeare.”
And ultimately it is society that benefits from the progress made in its appliances. Better designs and improved technology allow us to wash our clothes and heat our homes while using fewer resources. Wi-Fi, smartphones, and the Internet of Things (and Internet of Everything) will allow us to better control our appliances to use (and not waste) even more of our resources. Even our use of materials to build our appliances is having a direct effect on the attractiveness, functionality, and efficiency of our appliances.
For example, as described in this month’s article by Neil Hardwick and Ned Bryant, with advancements in EMI shielding technologies for molded plastics, the possibility of replacing metal shields is now a reality. As a result, designers can replace the heavy, cumbersome design limitations of metal shields with lightweight, flexible plastic designs.
In recent years, thermoplastics have begun to deliver significant advantages over metals, including weight reduction, design freedom, cost effectiveness and improved physical properties. It can, however, be more difficult to compare the actual shielding capabilities and costs of these different materials.
For instance, when comparing the costs of EMI shielding options, care must be taken to accurately account for both direct and indirect costs. Just some of the added direct and indirect costs of coated plastics include simplification of part design to accommodate “line of sight” coating processes, multi-step coating process that must include cleaning for coating to adhere, and the added step of masking non-conductive areas prior to coating.
For the full picture on the progress being made in molded plastics versus metals for EMI shielding, read “EMI Shielding Molding Compounds” in the pages of this month’s appliance DESIGN.
As always, enjoy and thanks for reading!