The emergence of a global economy has proposed new challenges for the product design engineer and provided new risks for the consumer. While the design and manufacturing processes have changed, the objective of providing a consumer product that is safe for public use still remains. This task becomes challenging for the product design engineer since the ability to oversee all aspects of the design, manufacture, and use is very limited and yet the mentality of “if you build it, you will be sued” is ever present. This paper considers three very different consumer products and all suffered a failure which resulted in harm done to the user. The first product is a multipurpose tool that, even though abuse was observed, contained a concealed danger as a result of poor design and/or manufacture that resulted in the injury. Second is a hanging chair that fell from the supporting fastener causing injury. Analysis and testing were unable to repeat the failure, thus severe abuse by the user proved to be the causal factor. Finally, a wine bottle opener caused injury as the user attempted to remove a part of the device from the packaging. In this case, the product itself was adequately designed to prevent injury for its intended use, but the packaging containing the product suffered from a faulty design. These cases exhibit different scenarios in which a consumer product caused injury to an end user and shows the varying entities that can bear the burden of negligence.
Product Design in a Global Economy
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Arnett, MD, Forero Rueda, MA, & Guenther, DA. "Product Design in a Global Economy." Proceedings of the ASME 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Volume 13: Design, Reliability, Safety, and Risk. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. November 9–15, 2018. V013T05A070. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/IMECE2018-87685
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