Ode to an Industrial Designer Genius

May 15th, 2016 by Richard Burman

I’ve been kinda busy lately. I have been doing some major renovations in our house. Doing most of the work myself has meant going through a large learning curve. I have always done little projects but this is the first time taking on the complete renovations of a whole room. It has been exhilarating as I just love learning how to do things.
We also bought a cottage which doesn’t really need much renovation, fortunately or unfortunately. One very nice feature included on the property is a construction shed which was used as a shop by the previous owner. Of course I want to continue that tradition. Since I still have my small shop in the city I’ve been going to garage sales to properly equipped this new space. An industrial vacuum cleaner is one of the essentials and since I already owned one I decided to look for another of the same brand. I found a really nice one that Is a little more powerful than what I have now which is good since I plan to make quite a bit of sawdust. When I had the two vacuums opened in front of me I realized a part was missing from the unit I just bought. After a call to a very helpful employee at the company I found out what I was missing is called an “Inlet Deflector”.


When I started to research on how I could get this part I noticed that the design was different from what I had in my existing unit. When I phoned back I again got Dave and he explained to me that the new design was so you would not need to switch the direction of the deflector when you went from dry pick up to wet. With the previous design you placed the deflector pointing down for dry and in order to prevent splashing you placed it pointing up for wet. In the new design the deflector pushes the debris off to the side which works perfectly for either dry or wet. INGENIOUS!
What intrigues me about this story is how did they come up with this new design. Was it a eureka moment where someone in the middle of the night thought “We could save our customers the nuisance of changing the deflector direction by redesigning it to deflect sideways”. Or did they sit down with this objective in mind and experimented until they found the answer. I can happily say that in my history of fixing and making things I have experienced a bit of both.
I don’t know if I’ll ever find the answer but it’s been a delight imagining. It is a good reminder that using our hands and eyes teaches us things. And even better, that knowledge can come back to us as a GOOD IDEA.

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