Thursday, June 20 2013

The fine art of Calling Bullshit

Fast Design magazine writes a puffy little piece on the decline of wood in consumer electronics design, filled with quotes about the mystical and spiritual qualities of this natural material that make it ill-suited to modern use.

Commenter Bradley Gawthrop calls bullshit:


Wood stuff hasn’t been made at scale by craftsmen who whisper at trees in a very very long time. Go to a Thomasville factory and see for yourself. It’s treated like any other industrial material, it’s just more expensive.

The reason electronics engineers don’t use wood is because it’s poorly suited to the product. It’s not rigid in thin cross sections, it doesn’t hold tight tolerances well over humidity changes, it’s expensive to procure (especially in China), and manufacturing with it is expensive, not because it requires hand craftsmanship (it doesn’t) but because all wood manufacturing is subtractive. it can’t be molded and cast and extruded the way glass and aluminum and plastic can be. It arrives in unpredictably sized slabs which have to be milled and milled and milled again until you reach the desired shape.

Also, we manufacture all this stuff in China, where they don’t even have enough timber for their own domestic use.