Recently I had my¬†leg in plaster and I had reason to encounter a very neat piece of¬†technology. In order to cut off the plaster without cutting the patient an oscillating saw is used.
I had a personal demonstration of how it cuts plaster but not skin in a way which seems almost magical and it set me off down a TRIZ thinking path. Before the saw was invented, the problem, in TRIZ terms, could be stated as¬†a physical contradiction:
In order to cut the plaster the saw must have movement¬†relative to the¬†cutting surface
In order to prevent the skin being cut the saw must have no movement relative¬†to the cutting surface
The clever thing about the saw is that it separates the physical contradiction on condition of the surface contacted. For a rigid surface such as the plaster, the saw¬†cuts due to the fact that the surface stays put and doesn’t move with the saw, creating the required relative movement. When the saw contacts skin, the flexibility of the skin surface is exploited and the saw and skin move together, eliminating any relative movement between the saw and skin. A similar principle is used in some fabric cutting table designs to prevent damage to the table. Simple, cool and clever.ÔŅĹNo comments
Here is an innovation which has really got me wondering. The ICON A5 is an ultralight recreational aircraft which is aimed to exploit a¬†2004 change in the US Federal Aviation Administration regulations relating to a new plane category¬†- the light sports aircraft. Planes in this category are limited to 2 occupants, must weight less than 1300 pounds and cannot fly faster than 120 knots (140 mph). The key attraction is that the related “Sports Pilot” certification only takes about 20 hours to complete and costs about $3,500 – less than half the time and cost of the previous easiest pilot certification.
The design of the plane has some nice touches which could differentiate it from it’s competitors – the controls evoke the dashboard from a¬†sports car with¬†analogue dials.
The pusher propellor and high elevator tailplane create a tidy outward appearance. The wings are designed to fold backwards, making the plane easy to transport to and from the airfield. There is also an amphibious version. Cost, when the plane is launched in 2010 is¬†expected to be $139,000.
So why am I wondering about it? Surely it is slap bang in the middle of the sweet spot. Well, it only does about 18 mpg at a time when fuel costs are soaring. The downturn in the US means there is less money available for this sort of indulgent leisure product. In short, the timing isn’t great. Also Cessna and Sirrus are planning competitors.
Time to come off the fence though -¬†I reckon it is a winner. There¬†is a very rapid growth in pilots gaining the new licence, there will still be sufficient numbers of wealthy flyers¬†around in 2010 to provide a big enough market and finally I think it looks very cool.ÔŅĹNo comments