Sylvia Wu

Fictiv Manufacturing Engineer. My favorite products are the ones I get to assemble.

All articles from the author

Mechanical Design

Halo Sport Teardown

In this teardown, we look inside a very special pair of headphones. We are not going to dig into its acoustics, because that’s not why it’s interesting. Halo Sport is a wearable neurostimulation headset that accelerates improvement from movement-based training. It’s the first consumer product of its kind; neurostimulation technology has only been used in clinical and research […]

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Manufacturing Processes

Manufacturing at Different Magnitudes Part 2: From 100 – 1,000 Units

One of the greatest challenges hardware teams face is in figuring out how to approach low volume production at awkward volumes of 100 – 1,000 units, before scaling to manufacture tens of thousands of units. In part 1 of this series, we covered best practices for manufacturing field testing units or made-to-engineer products at low […]

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Manufacturing Processes

Manufacturing at Different Magnitudes Part 1: From 10 – 100 Units

What does the word “production” mean to you? An engineer at a large consumer goods company might think of multi-cavity injection molding tools that cast parts day and night, and assembly lines that run multiple shifts. On the other hand, an engineer that works at a medical equipment company might think about getting a few […]

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Mechanical Design

Sphero R2-D2 Teardown

In honor of Force Friday, we teamed up with the engineers over at Sphero to bring you two exclusive teardowns of Sphero’s just-released-today Star Wars toys featuring R2-D2 and BB-9E, a brand new character featured in the upcoming movie. As one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe, there’s certainly no shortage of R2-D2 products […]

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Mechanical Design

Sphero BB-9E Teardown

In honor of Force Friday, we teamed up with the engineers over at Sphero to bring you two exclusive teardowns of Sphero’s Star Wars toys, R2-D2 and BB-9E. When we first unboxed the little black droid called BB-9E, we thought to ourselves, “Is that an evil BB-8?” There’s no mistaking which side this mysterious new character plays on–even its […]

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Mechanical Design

Ultimate Lightning Mcqueen Teardown

As robotics technology becomes more advanced and more accessible, we’ve seen an increase in robotic companion products come to market, intended to simulate human interaction. Sphero’s latest product, Ultimate Lightning McQueen, displays the company’s engineering and design mastery of life-like robotics technology. Similar to the BB-8 Droid, this new product in partnership with Pixar is packed with […]

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Mechanical Design

Spring Design Part 3: How Springs are Manufactured

According to our 2017 State of Hardware Report survey participants, the second most useful website in existence is YouTube. Not surprising—where else are you going to find a quick CAD tutorial, learn about manufacturing, and watch a blender shred a brand new iPhone? As such, we’ve compiled a list of YouTube videos that show how […]

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Mechanical Design

The Great Robotic Vacuum Showdown Part 1: Roomba 650 — Navigation System

In the first part of our Roomba teardown, we looked at the components that allow Roomba to move around and suck up dirt. Now we’re going to see what allows Roomba to actually navigate around your room semi-intelligently. The first sensor is actually a mechanical component—the small caster wheel found on the bottom of the […]

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Mechanical Design

Design and Sourcing Considerations for Springs

Springs are absolutely everywhere, from jewelry clasps to large industrial robots. The probability of a fresh-out-of-school mechanical engineer encountering his or her first spring design problem within the first year of graduating is not 100%, but it’s pretty high. Most of the time, it’s not practical to go straight into making a custom spring in […]

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Mechanical Design

9 Tips for Better Engineering Drawings that Save Time & Money

While engineering drawings are a great way to communicate design intent for CNC machining, providing a drawing with your prototype RFQ (request-for-quote) may actually make your quote more expensive and incur longer lead times. That’s because an engineering drawing is a legally binding document. Cautious machine shops carefully review every call-out on a drawing to […]

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Engineering

Types of Springs and their Applications: An Overview

Springs are ubiquitous in all kinds of machines—from consumer products to heavy industrial equipment, take apart anything that involves a mechanism, and chances are, you’ll find a spring inside. Springs are storage devices for mechanical energy—think of them as analogous to batteries! The earliest spring-driven clocks appeared in the 1400s. Fast-forward some 600 years, you […]

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Mechanical Design

Nintendo Switch Teardown

At 8pm on Thursday, March 2, 2017, a long line of loyal Nintendo fans and eBay resellers already formed around the block at San Francisco’s SOMA Best Buy. The new Nintendo Switch dropped at midnight on March 3. Naturally, we got in line, but unlike most fans who went home and played Zelda all night […]

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Mechanical Design

Playstation VR Aim Controller Teardown

We are intrigued by how friendly-looking the PlayStation VR Aim game controller, designed for playing First Person Shooter (FPS) games on the PlayStation VR system, is. Stylistically, it certainly matches the futuristic looking PlayStation VR headset. There are plenty of FPS controllers out there that look like real machine guns, so we appreciate that the […]

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Mechanical Design

Netatmo Welcome Indoor Security Camera Teardown

After we tore down the Netatmo Weather Station, we just had to know whether the internal plastic parts are shared with another Netatmo product line. So, this week we got the Netatmo Welcome indoor security camera, which definitely looks like the Weather Station’s sibling. Look at how this thing pierces through your soul. Do you feel […]

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Mechanical Design

Netatmo Weather Station Teardown, Part 2: Indoor Module

Welcome to Part 2 of our Netatmo Weather Station Teardown. Alison Thurber from Mindtribe continues to be my lab partner, despite this embarrassing scene at Fictiv during our last teardown. We call this “Frunday.” What exactly is so fun about planking? Indoor Module The Netatmo Weather Station’s Indoor Module is taller than the Outdoor Module. In addition to measuring temperature, […]

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Mechanical Design

Netatmo Weather Station

San Francisco is famous for its micro-climates. It could be warm & sunny in Potrero Hill, while Presidio Heights is shrouded in thick fog. In order to provide hyper-local weather information such as these, Weather Underground crowdsources data from individuals with automated personal weather stations (PWS’s). The Netatmo Weather Station is the one of the cheapest available […]

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Industry Insights

Dissecting the Apple-like Aesthetic for Consumer Product Design

The Apple aesthetic is easily recalled even by people who aren’t consumer electronics design enthusiasts. What do you think of when you are asked to describe an Apple product? Metal and glass? White? Minimalist? Someone once commented that a prototype I had built looks very “Apple.” It was a rectangular prism with rounded edges, constructed […]

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Manufacturing Processes

A Guide to Prototyping Materials for Medical Devices

“Medical device” is a broad umbrella term that covers a huge variety of apparatus and equipment, such as Band-Aids, dental floss, blood pressure cuffs, defibrillators, MRI scanners, and much, much more. It’s probably no surprise that medical device design constitutes a major segment of the field of mechanical engineering, especially in the U.S., which is […]

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New Product Introduction

Fictiv Guide to Strategic Hardware Product R&D

As Thomas Edison once said, “Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” Many entrepreneurs set out to build a product out of personal frustration. In this situation, the first R&D activity is often researching technologies that can be harnessed to solve the problem on hand. Sometimes, R&D activities are carried out to productize and capitalize […]

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Mechanical Design

How to Choose the Best 3D Printing Material

If you’re not sure which 3D printing material is the best one for your project, here’s a decision tree to help you choose. Need more info? Check out our Capabilities Guide.

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Mechanical Design

Teardown Showdown: Apple Watch vs. Fake Apple Watch

Welcome to another round of teardown showdown! This week we present A Tale of Two Watches. No, we’re not pitting a 42mm Apple Watch against a 38mm Apple Watch; what’s the point of that? Instead, this showdown is between a real apple watch and a fake one. Look at the picture again: Only one of these watches […]

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Mechanical Design

Ricoh Theta S 360° Camera Teardown

We love selfies at Fictiv. We even have human selfie sticks, also known as founders, but really we keep them around for their 6-foot-plus wingspan. However, as of late, our team has grown so much that we can’t all fit into a standard phone selfie. This is the worst kind of growing pain! Our culture is […]

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Mechanical Design

Special Edition Teardown: Lockitron Bolt with Paul Gerhardt

Dear readers, we have a special treat for you this week: The founder of Lockitron, Paul Gerhardt, came to Fictiv HQ to help us tear down his latest keyless-entry smart lock: Lockitron Bolt. Here’s a video to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the teardown and what Paul had to say about the product development process […]

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Mechanical Design

Logitech G13 Advanced Gameboard Teardown

This week, we’re tearing down the Logitech G13 Advanced Gameboard. It’s a fully programmable one-handed keyboard. Fictiv’s very own software engineer and MMO game enthusiast Craig Crossley recommends this model, citing its durability (three years and going strong) and ease of use. The G13 Gameboard retails at $79.99. We don’t see any screws on the front […]

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Manufacturing Processes

How to Communicate Color, Material, and Finish Effectively

CMF, which stands for Color, Material & Finish, is an area of specialty within the greater industrial design discipline. At large, design-centric hardware companies, CMF designers work alongside industrial designers and product design engineers to make sure that the chromatic and tactile identities of the product are on brand and in vogue. On smaller teams, […]

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Mechanical Design

Learn by Example: How to Design Light Pipes

Light plays an important role in the design of many hardware products. Often, they are both decorative and functional. Indicator lights are the most minimal user interface: They tell you whether the device is turned on, low on battery, or “thinking” really hard. On modern electronics, the light’s source is almost always an LED. However, […]

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Mechanical Design

The Great Robotic Vacuum Showdown Part 2: Neato XV-21

Welcome to part 2 of The Great Robotic Vacuum Showdown! If you didn’t have a chance to check out Part 1 of this series where we took apart the Roomba, go ahead and check that out first. Neato Robotics is a newcomer to the robotic vacuum business compared to iRobot; it only began shipping products in […]

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Mechanical Design

The Great Robotic Vacuum Showdown Part 1: Roomba 650 — Mechanical System

The Jetsons predicted flying cars, jetpacks, and robot maids serving us lucky people living in the 21st century. Well, we kind of have two of those things, but only one has achieved mass market adoption. No… I wasn’t talking about jetpacks. iRobot is probably the brand name most commonly associated with robotic vacuums. It was […]

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Mechanical Design

Under Armour Scale Teardown

Fictiv got me a scale for Valentine’s Day. I think someone is trying to say that second helpings of the catered lunches aren’t doing me any favors. Whatever; when life gives you subtle hints in the form of a personal health product, you tear that thing down! The UA Scale came as a part of […]

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Mechanical Design

Teardown Showdown: Logitech Gaming Mouse Edition G600 MMO vs G502 Proteus Core

I’ve been doing CAD modeling with Logitech mice for years. Their combination of design, utility, and value can’t be beat. When I was handed not one, but two high-end Logitech gaming mice this week, I couldn’t wait to tear these apart and uncover the secret ingredients inside. Our two contenders are the G600 MMO mouse and the G502 Proteus Spectrum […]

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Mechanical Design

Lamborghini Aventador Teardown

A few of us have been griping that it’s time to get a company car. Back in the old days, our 6’ 5” CEO Dave used to deliver prototypes to customers on a tiny scooter. These days, we really want to make deliveries in style… so we got a LAMBORGHINI! Okay, not a real Lamborghini—we’re not that […]

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Mechanical Design

Parrot Flower Power Teardown

Flower Power is an environmental monitor that you stick in the soil of a potted plant. It measures 4 things: sunlight, temperature, fertilizer, and moisture. Powered by a replaceable AAA battery, it’s water resistant and good for indoor and outdoor use. The company behind this product, Parrot, hails from France and makes a diverse lineup […]

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Mechanical Design

$50 Kindle Fire Teardown

In the midst of your holiday shopping, you probably came across the new Amazon Kindle Fire that’s selling for $50. $50! That’s twice as cheap as any other tablet Amazon has on the market. For 50 bucks you get a 7” display, 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, Wi-Fi, 8 GB of storage, and rear and front-facing cameras. […]

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Mechanical Design

Secrets From a Factory Assembly Line

I still remember the first Chinese electronics factory I visited like it was yesterday: It was an old tier-3* contract manufacturer somewhere in the sprawling Dongguan City. Its white tile facade was yellowed from acid rain, and despite the sweltering midsummer heat, only a few ceiling fans feebly circulated the muggy air on the factory […]

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Mechanical Design

Nerf Lazer Tag “Phoenix Tagger” Teardown

Before we get to business today, here’s a little trivia: The Lazer Tag product line was brought to us by Worlds of Wonder (the original WoW), a toy company founded by former Atari employees. This hot hardware startup hailed from Fremont, California and got its start making “the world’s first animated talking toy,” Teddy Ruxpin. It […]

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Engineering

How to Write an Engineering Requirements Document

The Product Requirements Document (PRD) is a familiar term to many engineers. We get this document from a product manager in one form or another, and it tells us what to build but not how to build it. But let’s face it, it’s probably better that way. We engineers hate being told how to implement an idea — that’s […]

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Mechanical Design

Hardware Testing Guide for Mass Production

Congratulations! After a long design and prototype verification process, mass production has finally begun for your product. Let’s imagine that your first batch of a few thousand units sells out in a few weeks (hooray!), you place a bigger order with the manufacturer, and then an even bigger one in a few months. How do […]

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Testing & Analysis

Pre-Production Hardware Testing Methods

The pre-production phase of the hardware product development cycle encompasses the commonly mentioned EVT (Engineering Verification Test), DVT (Design Verification Test), and PVT (Production Verification Test) segments. There’s a common misconception that each segment denotes a pre-production build on a rudimentary assembly line, however the T in each of the “(X)VT”s stands for Test, signifying […]

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Testing & Analysis

Strategic Testing Methods for Early Stage Hardware Development

Good products are developed with an iterative process (James Dyson famously made 5127 failed prototypes before he delivered a working Cyclone bagless vacuum). But while an iterative process is the most successful hardware development strategy, prototyping hardware can be expensive and time-consuming. So to get the most value out of each prototype, you need to aggressively […]

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Industry Insights

5 Holiday Reads for Engineers

This holiday I’m looking forward to digging into some of the books I’ve been meaning to read, but just haven’t found the time to read them. I’m sure my fellow engineers can relate! My picks touch on some key design-thinking principles (yes — there’s value to understanding design principles as an engineer!) + 2 awesome engineering biographies and a visual exploration of classic products.. torn […]

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Testing & Analysis

Hardware Testing 101

Software and hardware engineers alike have heard some form of this advice: “Build lots of prototypes; iterate as fast as you can.” For those of us in the hardware industry, these prototypes can cost a lot of time and money. So while we should strive to iterate quickly, we must also get as much information […]

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Mechanical Design

How to Build a BOM

Chefs create recipes. Hardware Engineers create BOMs (Bill of Materials) and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). The BOM is an ingredients list for building your product, and the SOP is the set of instructions on how to build it. In this post, we’ll dive into exactly how to construct an excellent ingredients list that will help you […]

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