I love learning stuff like this. The nuances and complexity of making even the simplest things can be amazing. This line in reference to a part of the manufacturing that requires manual effort is thought provoking:
My guess is that robots are expensive to build and maintain; people are self-replicating and largely self-maintaining.
In the coming Robot Revolution will these jobs still be there because it’s still more cost effective to have a carbon-based machine do the work or will robots be sophisticated enough to replace even such tasks as this? Will that be a good thing?
The discussion at the end about the manufacturing differences between plastic pieces with polished and satin finishes is also interesting:
For example, most customers perceive plastics with a mirror-finish to be of a higher quality than those with a satin finish. While functionally there is no difference in the plastic’s structural performance, it takes a lot more effort to make something with a mirror-finish. The injection molding tools must be painstakingly and meticulously polished, and at every step in the factory, workers must wear white gloves; mountains of plastic are scrapped for hairline defects, and extra films of plastic are placed over mirror surfaces to protect them during shipping.
For all that effort, for all that waste, what’s the first thing a user does? Put their dirty fingerprints all over the mirror finish. Within a minute of coming out of the box, all that effort is undone. Or worse yet, they leave the protective film on, resulting in a net worse cosmetic effect than a satin finish. Contrast this to a satin finish. Satin finishes don’t require protective films, are easier to handle, last longer, and have much better yields. In the user’s hands, they hide small scratches, fingerprints, and bits of dust. Arguably, the satin finish offers a better long-term customer experience than the mirror finish.
Pointer from Marginal Revolution.