People Explain Which Mass-Produced Items Are Actually Very Well-Engineered
RPO1728/Reddit

We don't often think about how effective many of the items we purchase are–whether we buy them out of necessity or for leisure.


We just expect many of the accessible items like home goods or kitchen appliances to work the way they should without giving a second thought to their impressive feat of engineering.

But when you actually consider how many of the mass-produced items for sale are extremely well made, we might have a newfound appreciation for these products.

Curious to hear specific examples, Redditor Gourmet-Guy asked:

"Which cheap and mass-produced item is stupendously well engineered?"

These practical tools are a marvel.

They've Been Crushing It

"Soda/beer cans. The design has existed for decades with few changes."

"It’s a way of using a relatively small amount of cheap metal to withstand the pressure of carbonated beverages with a reliable opening mechanism."

"During pandemic I also noticed that some companies stopped using thicker material on the upper ‘ridge’ of the can, probably due to supply shortages. They instead used a sort of stepped system that appeared to be almost as strong."

– Die_woofer

Porcelain Throne

"Toilets. I've been a plumber 20 years and very little has changed, or needed to."

"Minimal up keep, cheap and easy repair, very long life."

– RPO1728

Stackable Wonders

"The intermodal shipping container, a/k/a the Connex box. There are millions of the damned things all over the world, in use every single day. They are stackable, can be locked together, attach readily to ships, truck trailer frames, and rail cars, and can bear enormous loads."

"The cost of their manufacture compared to their economic use value over their useful lives is next to nothing."

– MrBarraclough

Fascinating Fasteners

"Zip ties - such a simple piece of plastic but so versatile. I have one of the old fashioned chain link fences, some of the fasteners on the middle poles broke and in high winds the fence was swaying like crazy. A half dozen zip ties on the three posts and it doesn’t budge and nobody even knows they’re there"

– larryb78

How did people camp in the early days without these useful tricks?

They're Lit

"Matches are underappreciated because people don't really understand how complex a match and striker are."

"From the Encyclopedia Britannica...."

"The head of a match uses antimony trisulfide for fuel. Potassium chlorate helps that fuel burn and is basically the key to ignition, while ammonium phosphate prevents the match from smoking too much when it's extinguished. Wax helps the flame travel down the matchstick and glue holds all the stuff together. The dye-- well, that just makes it look pretty. On the striking surface, there's powdered glass for friction and red phosphorus to ignite the flame."

"Now, the fun stuff-- striking a match against the powdered glass on the matchbox creates friction. Heat from this friction converts the red phosphorus into white phosphorus. That white phosphorus is extremely volatile and reacts with oxygen in the air, causing it to ignite. All this heat ignites the potassium chlorate, creating the flame you see here."

"Oxidizers, like potassium chlorate, help fuels burn by giving them more oxygen. This oxygen combines with antimony trisulfide to produce a long-lasting flame so you have enough time to light a candle. The whole thing is coated with paraffin wax, which helps the flame travel down the match. Just don't burn the house down."

"As antimony oxidizes, sulfur oxides form, creating that burnt-match scent. The smoke you're seeing is actually tiny unburned particles resulting from an incomplete combustion. Individually, they're a little bit too small to see but grouped together, they form smoke. There's also some water vapor in there."

"By the way, all the stuff that we're explaining in 90 seconds, it all happens within tenths of a second. Chemistry's fast."

– SultanOfSwave

Insta Flame

"The lighter."

"Spontaneously ignite fire basically whenever you want.."

– LefterisLegend

It's electric!

So Efficient, So Cool

"Not exactly cheap, but I'm impressed that I can have a ceiling fan run on high for 15 years straight and not have it explode on me."

– FadeToOne

The Transistor

"I remember how amazed we were in 1985 to see a chip with 68,000 transistors. Now they’re at 68 billion."

chriswaco

Back In The Day...

"My favorite part was in school my professor talking about how they used to do the layouts on transparencies by hand."

"Or how during Apollo the guidance aspect of the program was buying up a significant portion of the national production capacity of transistors."

– giritrobbins

Portable Power

"Batteries are marvels of engineering packed tightly into a miniscule canister, even AA batteries are incredibly sophisticated internally."

– HuntertheGoose

We take many everyday objects around us for granted.

Now imagine what life would be like without any of the examples above existing.

Life would be significantly different, amirite?

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