liability engineering

End user retro-engineering

End user retro-engineering (EURE) is the redesign of a product, not for resale, but by a consumer (end user). Historically, concept and craft were often more significant components of products as they were intended to last indefinitely (with proper maintenance and repair). Modern products have "life expectancies" due to rapid innovation rate, disposability, automation, and shorter-term finance paradigms which can decrease product service life-terms. Even many premium products have succumbed to these pressures, and often cannot be relied on to function or last as might be expected. Products with high generational technology improvement rates may not be good EURE candidates, as they become obsolete rapidly (eg. compact cassette player).

EURE is not repair (restoring to original or similar condition), retrofitting (changing or adapting the purpose), or rigging (temporary fix) but improves the functionality, and/or durability, of the product over its original design. A concern of EURE is that the product could become unstable or have a dangerous result if done without sufficient reflection and knowledge. EURE requires through study of the functionality, purpose and entire structural make-up. The EURE consumer must have sufficient understanding of the science behind a particular solution, and thoroughly test (at least at the level of the original manufacturer), as well as, accept liability for the altered design, which would most likely void any manufacturer's responsibility. EURE can be environmental and cost effective, and should reduce ongoing maintenance.

EURE is based on correcting two common causes of product failure:

  1. Contamination -- The product is not self-cleaning therefore cannot prevent parts from eventually becoming jammed, overheating, or otherwise stressed. After a period of time contamination will damage parts by wear. A well designed product will clean itself or be permanently shielded from contamination. The cost and difficulty in devising contamination free design from the start is why the vast majority of products are deficient in this aspect. In many cases, improving seals, membranes, filters, etc is a preventative EURE solution. Extensive product flaws, are usually not EURE-able. (Cleaning parts may repair the product temporarly.)
  2. Most Stressed Part -- The main working part(s) are not relatively as durable as the rest of the parts. In this case, replacing certain parts with something that is stronger or functions better is the EURE solution. Often, replacing one or two parts with the most stress will greatly increase the lifetime of the product or even eliminate its planned obsolescence; although this is unlikely in the case of disposable products due to their high ratio of low quality materials. It is best to concentrate EURE efforts on products which were intended to last a year or more.

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