Have you ever wondered which everyday, low-cost item is incredibly well-engineered? The internet is buzzing with this question, and after some deep diving, I found the top-voted answers that might surprise you! Check them out and see if you’ve ever underestimated the power of these seemingly mundane objects.
1. The Humble Corrugated Cardboard Box
The top-voted response is the humble corrugated cardboard box. The person who wrote this response explained that it’s lightweight, strong, splash-resistant, abrasion resistant, recyclable, and biodegradable. The basic design has existed for over 150 years, and the retail shipping industry runs on cardboard boxes.
A second commented, “The Corrugated Fiberboard Association of America would like to remind you that it’s the humble Corrugated Fiberboard box you’re referring to; a cardboard box is what your shoes come in.”
2. The Zipper
The zipper, someone added. It’s a very cheap mechanism that secures objects very neatly. No wonder it’s used in most objects that need to be opened and closed, such as luggage and jackets.
Another confirmed that the zipper is one underrated invention. The original manufacturer YKK keeps such a secret around the process that they even build the production equipment.
3. The Ceiling Fan
“Not exactly cheap,” this individual mentions, but they’re impressed that they have a ceiling fan working for 15 years straight and still haven’t exploded on them. One pointed out they should turn it off to clean it occasionally because of the sticky dust.
I didn’t know this was possible, but according to one, it’s great that they can switch directions for summer and winter. ‘Winter’ mode is also useful in the summer if you have a second floor and open all of the upstairs windows, as it will help push the heat out. I do this for the evenings, then shut the windows early in the morning and flip the fan back to normal.
Thankfully I wasn’t the only person who didn’t know this, and our knight in shining armor explained, “One direction to move the air upwards for winter and the other direction to move air downwards for summer.”
Somebody mentions toilets. “They use nothing more than gravity to reliably flush. Doesn’t use power at all.”
Many people in the thread agreed, and this one is the all-appropriate version, “and if you’ve ever used a poorly engineered toilet, you learn to appreciate the well-engineered ones.”
5. The Lighter
Spontaneously ignite fire basically whenever you want—the lighter.
People aren’t on the same page if it’s the BIC lighter or the Zippo lighter that’s better. But they all agree that lighters are incredible, most last long, durable, and very cheap.
6. The Transistor
The most surprising item built to last is the transistor, according to one person. “I remember how amazed we were in 1985 to see a chip with 68,000 transistors. Now they’re at 68 billion.”
Girit added that his favorite part in school was his professor talking about how they used to do the layouts on transparencies by hand. And how during Apollo, the guidance aspect of the program was buying up a significant portion of the national production capacity of transistors.
7. The Ballpoint Pen
“The ballpoint pen, clearly,” someone mentioned.
Cal added, “Give credit to the inventor, Laszlo Biro. He escaped the Nazis, invented the pen, then got ripped off and never made money”. This comment made another have an epiphany, “So that’s why it is called Biro in English.”
Batteries are marvels of engineering packed tightly into a minuscule canister, even AA batteries are incredibly sophisticated internally, according to one.
Tobo shared that he saw a video of someone taking apart a lithium energizer battery the other day. And that it looks like cotton balls and folded foil, just all jammed together. “Like someone figured out how to harness so much energy into that thing???”
9. Zip Ties
Larry shared his opinion on zip ties, which are surprisingly built to last. He expressed that it’s such a simple piece of plastic but so versatile. His fence broke, and in high winds, the fence was swaying like crazy. A half dozen zip ties later, and now, it doesn’t budge, and nobody even knows they’re there.
A mother related to the zip ties, “My son rebuilt the front of his car with them time and again. He’s a genius with a zip tie. With not hitting the car in front of him, not so much.”
Paran commented screws adding, “Can you imagine what would happen if all the screws suddenly disappeared from the world? Everything would fall apart.”
That question was an opener for bad jokes, and I won’t keep you out of the best ones, “We would be screwed.” and “Tool puns, everyone, you know the drill.”
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