“Rube Goldberg” is alive and well in Harry Potter’s neighborhood. Three blokes in their mid-twenties, graduates of elite Cambridge University, have developed fantastic mechanical chains of devices, like sliding chess pieces, dropping hammers, and perfectly aimed darts that keep the crazy sequence going on video. They reckon four to five million people have watched their clever automation process on screen.
Their contraption videos are a brilliant effort to promote the young company of these clever mechanical engineers who specialize in manufacturing and design creativity. I urge every reader to go to their website, www.baynhamtyers.com to see their hard work.
I talked to Tom Baynham, one of the creative engineers, about the group’s business plan, and how the popular videos fit into it. He says they are in the manufacturing and design creativity business. They are currently working on a project for a firm providing portable machine tools for the oil industry. They have spent time at the Mazak plant in Japan and see a future for their innovative approaches to making things.
He says that their videos have brought them notoriety and networking opportunities in manufacturing circles, but my sense is that they have not grasped the potential of the films.
They have a superb opportunity to turn their site into a huge social networking venue for people interested in mechanical things. This could lead to opportunities in toys, construction, even apparel – judging by the young guys from Threadless. They also could try the citizen contest method, which could culminate in an interesting show approach.
What these fellows have done is discover the latent interest in intricate mechanical contraptions. This implies big opportunities for machining companies to popularize and humanize their websites with similar creative efforts.
If I was looking for a company to make something, and found a group with the creative acumen of a Rube Goldberg master, I would definitely give them a shot at my work.
It is not a big leap to connect the dots from wacky contraption to perfect machined parts.