In my last post I promised that, in the near future, I would cogitate on planned obsolescence, or why the manufacturers of my garage door opener chose to put in a plastic drive gear that would certainly wear out long before the other components of the machine. First of all “cogitate” is not, as you might think, defined as the mental ramblings of a codger. But in this case they may be analogous.
When I was informed by Dean, the neighborhood handyman, that it was a worn out nylon gear drive that had rendered my garage door opener non-functional, my first conclusion was that this was a design flaw. It seems that this part is the weak link in the operating system of this machine. Dean knew right where to look for the problem. He said he’d already replaced them for most of the neighborhood.
What do you think would have happened if I’d called a garage door repair specialist? Would he have replaced the gear or sold me a new opener? I’m thinking new opener. Was there some design requirement that mandated the use of a nylon gear? Like functioning under specific conditions. Or did Sears specify the use of the gear so the opener would fail after 10 years instead of 20, so they could sell more units over time? Or would a more reliable (metal?) part add enough cost so that the Craftsman 1/2 hp unit couldn’t compete in the market with similar products?
You might think that I’m going to answer those questions. I’m not. I’m hoping you can. I will observe that this kind of design is part of the price we pay in the world of mass production and part of why we’ve turned into a throw away society.
What do you think?