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What’s All This Switch Stuff, Anyhow? (.PDF Download)

June 20, 2017
What’s All This Switch Stuff, Anyhow? (.PDF Download)

Back in February 2011, a mechanical engineer pal wrote me complaining about the complexity of switch catalogs and the difficulty in using them. My pal is no slouch, having brought many products to manufacturing. He is an expert in SolidWorks and MasterCAM, and dabbles in UNIX. He is fantastic at research, and has a great broad-based analytic mind. So him complaining about switch catalogs was not due to any lack of intellect. Channeling British Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, he wrote,

“This is quite simply the most complex switch catalog... in the world. And unlike any other switch catalog, this switch catalog seems to have been organized in such a way as to confound every effort to extract a useful part number for a working combination of switch, actuator rod, door, face or direct mounting "system" and knob, or whatever silly name they give it.

“I'm designing a product that needs a 3 pole, 220-240VAC, 6-10kVA disconnect for the mains in. I had hoped to find a compact unit that could be mounted internally with an external knob. I budgeted about 10 minutes for this task. Clearly, I'm off by a factor of 100.

“I realize it's easy to paste a bunch of pictures and spreadsheets into Acrobat Pro, but the only folks on this planet that could parse this catalog are the people that wrote it, with the help of a team of 4 or 5 engineers and a code breaker, and maybe an Enigma machine.”


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