Industry Market Trends

Worth a Look: Products Made to Fail

Oct 24, 2012

Plus: Business Groups Challenge Conflict Minerals Regulation, China's Slowing Economy Hurts U.S. Exporters, Concentrating at Work, New Magnesium Applications and 3-D Printing Bridges Tech and Manufacturing.

Sometimes the Internet seems like it's gotten too big. To help navigate this sea of information, Industry Market Trends' weekly Worth a Look feature spotlights some of the more interesting, informative and amusing resources that might have slipped under your radar - all in bite-sized chunks.

  • Business Groups Oppose Conflict Minerals Rule | The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers are urging federal courts to modify or overturn regulations from the Securities and Exchange Commission that force companies to publicly disclose whether they use minerals from war-stricken regions of Africa, and if so, track the source and chain of custody of the minerals. The groups issuing the challenge claim "the final conflict mineral rule imposes an unworkable, overly broad and burdensome system that will undermine jobs and growth and may not achieve Congress's overall objectives."

  • Chinese Slowdown Hurting U.S. Exporters | The ongoing slowdown in China's economy is having a negative impact on American companies that rely on sales to China, which is the U.S.'s third-largest export partner. Weaker export demand has led to job reductions in industries like mining, heavy machinery and scrap metal, with an estimated loss of 38,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector since July stemming from the export slowdown. Moreover, the drop in exports to China alone is responsible for cutting 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points off the U.S. economy's growth rate.

  • How to Concentrate in a Cubicle | Background noise and interruptions can make it difficult to concentrate in the workplace, and completing an assignment subsequently takes twice as long. If using earplugs or headphones is not an option, CBS MoneyWatch offers some helpful tips for focusing amid distractions, including: blocking out visual stimuli that could keep you looking away from your work, setting up a sign or outgoing message that says you shouldn't be interrupted for now and using a white noise machine under your desk to drown out disturbances.

  • GM Pioneers New Magnesium Shaping Method | Scientists and engineers at General Motors have developed a new method for treating magnesium that allows it to be used for producing auto parts, which could lead to lighter-weight and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The process involves hitting magnesium sheets and to allow them to be formed into precise, rigid shapes. Research indicates that by 2020, magnesium will be able to take out 15 percent of the weight of a vehicle and cut fuel use by 9 percent to 12 percent.

  • 3-D Printing Brings Manufacturing Jobs into the Tech Scene | The rapid growth of advanced 3-D printing technology is starting to bridge the gap between manufacturing and the tech world. For example, tech startup Shapeways has opened a 25,000 square-foot factory in New York, and plans to hire "50 engineers, distribution specialists, and machine operators to staff the factory within the next year-and more employees at even bigger factories after that."  The new facility will hold 30 to 50 industrial-sized 3-D printers capable of manufacturing 5 million products a year.

  • Products that Were Made to Fail | A surprising variety of products are actually made to fail or become obsolete within a set number of years, encouraging customers to upgrade or purchase newer goods at regular intervals. From computers to cars to washing machines, a new infographic illustrates the many products that were born to fail and be replaced, as well as a few items that are intended to last a lifetime.

Infographic Credit: Fixr