End user retro-engineering (EURE) is the redesign of a product, not for resale, but by a consumer (end user). Marketing deadlines, cost pressures, and short term profit paradigms in manufacturing lead to shortsighted design. This is pervasive in products today. In previous times more thought and craft was applied to products and they were intended to last indefinitely (with proper maintenance and repair). Today products have "life expectancies" due to a rapid innovation rate, disposability, and a short-term profit paradigm. Even many "high quality" or expensive products have succumbed to these pressures, and cannot be relied on to function as expected or for very long.
EURE can be dangerous and result in an even worse product if done haphazardly. EURE is not the same as rigging (temporary fix) or repair (restoring to original or similar condition) but changes or improves the functionality , durability , or design of the product. Attempting to EURE requires through study of the functionality, purpose and entire structural make-up. Never rely on a suggested EURE solution, unless you have examined the problem yourself, have confidence in your particular knowledge of the basic science behind it, and always safety test before using. If someone should be injured because of your EURE you could be liable.
Common causes of product failure:
- Dirt -- The product cannot keep itself clean or prevent parts from becoming jammed, because of extensive product flaws, which are usually not EURE-able. The obvious solution is to clean the parts, which very often fixes the problem temporarily. If the dirt has been there too long it will usually damage the parts by wear. A well designed product will clean itself or be permanently shielded from contamination. The cost and difficulty in devising this sort of design from the start is why the vast majority of products are deficient in this aspect.
- Most Stressed Part -- The main working part(s) are not relatively as durable as the rest of the parts. In this case replacing the part with something that is stronger or functions better is the solution. Often, replacing the one or two parts with the most stress will double, triple, or more the lifetime of the product. You may even eliminate its planned obsolescence, although this is unlikely in the case of disposable products due to their high ratio of low quality materials. It is best to concentrate EURE efforts on products which were intended to last a year or more.
Individuals who EURE have the satisfaction of helping the environment, saving money, and saving the constant effort of replacing the same item repeatedly. It is like an investment which does not pay off so much now as in the long term.