For an old-school toy, the manufacturing process of LEGO bricks is extremely sophisticated. To achieve the correct fit between the studs and the holes of two bricks – so that they can be clicked together and pulled apart with just the right amount of effort – a maximum tolerance of 0.001 mm is allowed during production. Even with this high standard to reach, only 0.0018% of all bricks are defective. And the few that are defective, of course, are recycled back into ones that aren’t.
LEGO photograph by fdecomite
Like many things designed for consumer simplicity, the Polaroid Instant Film is a fairly complex piece of technology, with about 20 individual components in each pack.
Production of this complex technology ceased in 2008, but with the recent resurgence of analog photography, The Impossible Project purchased one of the Dutch factories and are now aiming to streamline the manufacturing process to produce a new, hi-tech Instant Film. You may have already heard of the project with the recent release of the final batch of old film through Urban Outfitters.
The team are using the power of the internet to aid their quest, asking for public answers to their difficult problems, such as the fifth of their seven big challenges:
We urgently need Latex that can easily be coated on gelatin base. Thickness of the dried layer is about 2 micron. The developer used in instant film is a viscous solution, containing 2N alkaline.
The team say they have exactly 12 months to complete their mission, and from the look of the countdown clock on the website, the time runs out at the end of 2009.
Polaroid Instant Film illustration copyright The Impossible Project.
Now, I’m a big fan of Apple products, but filing a patent application (2008) for a computer with a coloured bulb inside it might be pushing your luck. Also, with design supremo Jonathan Ive on their team, it seems a little strange that the patent illustrations seem to have been drawn by a five year old.
At a time when the UK Government is commissioning a new plastic pint glass design, it’s worth highlighting the brilliant simplicity of the standard pint glass.
The nonic (“no nick”) pint glass was designed in the 1960s, with a multi-purpose bulge just below the rim. The bulge:
- Adds strength to the glass.
- Allows the glass to be stacked without sticking together, and potentially shattering when pulled apart.
- Prevents the glass from slipping from the hand when condensation forms on visit site the outside.
Importantly, the bulge added these benefits without detracting from the taste: something that the new design is unlikely to do.