We Need Sustainable Designs ASAP
Welcome back to the Cadversity Blog! Each week, we feature forefront design technologies, product development advice, and the like - but this week, we're focusing on an increasingly warming topic (no pun intended): the environment.
We've all heard of the various "eco-conscious" methods we could integrate in our lives: effective recycling, composting, multi-use bottles, and even solar-powered lawnmowers sold off the shelf. Yes, you heard that right.
Regardless of your personal belief on the existence of climate change (we think it's a pervasive reality, but we're not here to dissuade), it's pretty universally undeniable that certain waste streams are better for our flora & fauna than others. If I were to take two goldfish, place them in side-by-side tanks, and force-feed one a dissolvable collagen straw and the other a plastic straw, only one would very clearly survive this already obnoxious experiment.
Unfortunately, most of our ecological impacts are left untraceable to the naked eye. And actually, this might not be unfortunate. If we were to view our personal landmark on Earth, it wouldn't be a pretty sight. Standing for 24 hours in a landfill would be enough to scar for life.
Beyond the plastic straws debate and the politics of the American energy split, there lies an underbelly doing great damage - and that's the mechanical design industry. Yes, you heard that right - the industry we're a very public part of.
So, what do we mean here, and how do we approach this?
There are 3 fundamentals to consider:
1. All mechanical design is conducted with some consumption of energy.
Me typing on this keyboard necessitates food energy. That particular burst of energy will never be reusable after I finish this blog post. Not to mention, my computer keeps churning away. And ouch, sometimes I certainly feel that on my electricity bill.
Whenever a series of computer-aided design (CAD) computations are underway, computers tend to crank extra hard to stuff crazy amounts of memory into otherwise nonchalant modeling programs. It's a lot of juice.
Fortunately, by outsourcing your design cycle, you can save on usage time associated with a multifaceted engineering team tasked with all the design in-house.
2. All designed products exhibit unseen areas for improving material utilization and cost.
Oh God, we're going to put this bluntly - it doesn't matter if you have an MBA. It doesn't matter if you've worked in executive operations for 35 years. It doesn't matter if you've founded an environmental nonprofit. The reality is, as humans, NONE of us will ever fulfill the practically infinitesimal marginal improvements possible for making parts and assemblies more eco-friendly and cost-effective downstream.
This is especially true for us mechanical designers - we're specialized to turn over efficient, affordable products. But just HOW efficient or HOW affordable necessitates iteration in the first place. As supply and demand curves chase one another, these targets adjust rapidly - as in, over the course of minutes.
What's good is that outsourcing product design to a contracting house like Cadversity warrants express sustainable design services at fractional costs. This greatly reduces eco-friendly adoption times.
3. Sustainable design necessitates additional investment.
It's quite fascinating to think about things this way, but if our great-grandparents had evolved industrially to prioritize organic materials in the production process, we wouldn't have this cashflow battle when it comes to ramping sustainable designs.
It just so happened that synthetic polymer development became extremely rapid, and thereby affordable. There's loads of history backing this reality, but it's too much to get into here. Put simply, if we had subsidized biodegradables earlier in our economy, the cost for market implementation would have advanced 30 years prior. This is the lull we face today, so products sometimes must be single-use to avoid deficit-level costs.
In mechanical design, the investment is rarely there upfront. An Alpha must be released before a Beta, and a Beta before a Gamma, and on and on, and it might take several design cycles, millions of dollars in product sales or investment rounds, and internal incentives before the first "eco" pipeline is established at a firm.
So moving forward, it's important to consider ways of splitting and delegating design tasks efficiently to minimize energy consumption (and time waste). Material development should be more intensive throughout the engineering design process, and cost-saving paths become necessary for ecologically friendly product development.
It's our sincere hope that our Sustainability Analysis service can help push you forward by recommending cost-friendly material alternatives. When paired with our CAD Design service, we'd love to get these emerging products on the shelves.
For now, we'll see you in next week's blog!
All the Best,