What is a Junction Box and How to Install an Electrical Junction Box

Description:     Junction boxes are metal or plastic enclosures used as housings for wiring connections. The connections within are called branch circuits and usually represent the end of a conduit run. Junction boxes make wire access easy, since all one must do is remove the covering to make alterations, repairs, or additions to a conduit. Junction boxes also protect wiring from the elements or environment, which can sometimes be corrosive or otherwise harmful to wiring material. Finally, junction boxes protect wiring from unwanted tampering, whether malicious or unintentional.     Junction Box Wiring Basics     Essentially, a junction box houses wire connections in order to split off power from a single source to multiple outlets. For instance, a distribution box might contain one wire power source that is connected through multiple wires to power several different lights.     Junction boxes are usually between 2 ? to 3 ? inches long and made of metal or hard plastic. The functional difference between plastic and metal depends whether or not the junction box is supposed to support any weight. Some metal junction boxes can support light fixtures; plastic junction boxes cannot withstand this weight. Additional differences include installation, in that plastic junction boxes are typically quicker and easier to install than metal ones. However, a standard junction box designed to simple cover wire splices can be either metal or plastic.     Wire Splices in Junction Boxes     All wire splices must be contained within a junction box for a building to meet electric code, although sometimes splices are missed and may present hazards as a result. Any exposed wiring can be dangerous, but exposed wire splices are especially prone to accident because they can be tripped over, expel sparks or misrepresent themselves be misperceived as playthings by children or pets. IP65 junction box are helpful for wire splices because they also allow one to easily locate the wire splice area.     Instructions     Shut off the Power and Test the Wires     Turn off the power to the circuit you'll be working on by switching off the appropriate circuit breaker in your home's service panel (circuit breaker box). Test all of the wires you'll be working on with a non-contact voltage tester. The test should confirm that no voltage is present in any of the wires.     Remove a Knockout (Metal Box Only)     If you're using a metal box, remove a knockout on the box for each cable that will enter the box. Use a screwdriver and hammer to break out each knockout (metal disc), then twist off the metal knockout disk with pliers.     Mount the Box     Separate the circuit wires at the existing splice and loosen the cables as needed to make room for the new junction box. Anchor the box to the framing (or other support structure) with screws driven through the factory-made holes in the back or side of the box, as applicable.     Set up Clamps for Each Cable     Install a cable clamp for each cable, as needed. Standard plastic electrical junction boxes do not have knockouts and contain internal cable clamps. Metal boxes usually have internal clamps; if yours does not, install a locknut-type clamp for each cable. Insert the threaded end of the clamp through a knockout hole and secure the clamp inside the box with the ring-shaped nut. Tighten the nut with pliers.     Secure the Cables     Feed the cables through the clamps and into the box. The cable sheathing (outer jacket) should extend 1/4 to 1/2 inch into the box beyond the clamp, and the individual conducting wires should extend about 6 inches into the box. If necessary, trim the wires as needed and strip 3/4 inch of insulation from the end of each wire, using wire strippers.     Secure the cables by tightening the screws on the clamps, being careful not to overtighten and damage the cables. Plastic boxes usually have spring-tabs for clamps and do not require tightening.     Join the Wires     Join the wires together with approved wire connectors, following the manufacturer's instructions:     Join the bare copper (or green insulated) ground wires together first. If the box is metal, add a pigtail—a 6-inch length of the same type of ground wire—to the ground wire connection, then connect the loose end of the pigtail to the ground screw on the box. Special green wire nut connectors are generally used to join the grounding wires together.     Join the white (neutral) wires together, then join the black (hot) wires together, using a wire nut or other approved connector for each wire pair. If there are red (hot) wires, join them together, as well. Confirm that all wires are secure by gently tugging on each wire.     Finish the Job     Carefully fold the wires into the box. Install the box cover, securing it with two screws. Code requires that the cover must be a solid "blank" without holes. Restore power to the circuit by switching on the circuit breaker box.

Publish Date: 2021/08/04

Plastic, Paper or Cotton: Which Shopping Bag is Best?

Description:     Given the concerns pulling us in different directions—our health, the environment, climate change—what’s an environmentally responsible, health-conscious shopper to do? Let’s compare the main bag choices—plastic, paper and cotton—to try to answer that question.     Life Cycle Analysis     To understand the full spectrum of impacts and benefits of a particular bag, we need to analyze its life cycle. A life cycle analysis (LCA) looks at how much energy is used and how many environmental impacts a product is responsible for at every stage of its life, from cradle to grave. This includes extracting the raw materials, refining them, manufacturing the product, packaging it for shipment, transporting and distributing it, its use and possible reuse, recycling and final disposal.     In any LCA, the total environmental impact also depends on how efficient each process is, and how many protective environmental measures are implemented at every stage. Energy use is also subject to variables such as the source of raw materials, the location of manufacturing and processing, how long a product is used and the final disposal method.     Life cycle studies done in Europe and North America have determined that, overall, plastic bags are better for the environment than paper or reusable bags unless the latter are used many times. Most, however, did not consider the problem of litter, which we know is a major drawback of plastic bags.   Plastic bags     Plastic bags were invented in 1967, but only became widely used in stores in the 1970s. The most commonly found thin plastic shopping bags given out at cash registers are usually made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), but some are made of low-density polyethylene plastic (LDPE).     The energy embodied in plastic bags comes initially from the mining of the raw materials needed to make them—natural gas and petroleum—whose extraction requires a lot of energy. The raw materials must then be refined, which requires yet more energy. Once at a processing facility, the raw materials are treated and undergo polymerization to create the building blocks of plastic. These tiny granules of polyethylene resin can be mixed with recycled polyethylene chips. They are then transported by truck, train or ship to facilities where, under high heat, an extruder shapes the plastic into a thin film. The film is flattened, then cut into pieces. Next, it is sent to manufacturers to be made into bags. The plastic bags are then packaged and transported around the world to vendors. While polyethylene can be reprocessed and used to make new plastic bags, most plastic bags are only used once or twice before they end up being incinerated or discarded in landfills. The Wall Street Journal estimated that Americans use and dispose of 100 billion plastic bags each year; and the EPA found that less than five percent are recycled.     A 2014 study done for the Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents the U.S. plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry, compared grocery bags made from polyethylene (HDPE), compostable plastic, and paper with 30 percent recycled fibers. It found that the HDPE bags ultimately used less fuel and water, and produced less greenhouse gas gases, acid rain emissions, and solid waste than the other two. The study, which did not consider litter, was peer-reviewed by Michael Overcash, then a professor of chemical engineering at North Carolina State University. Because the carrying capacity of a plastic and a paper bag are not the same, the study used the carrying capacity of 1,000 paper bags as its baseline and compared their impacts to the impacts of 1,500 plastic bags. The plastic bags used 14.9kg of fossil fuels for manufacturing compared to 23.2kg for paper bags. Plastic bags produced 7kg of municipal solid waste compared to 33.9kg for paper, and greenhouse gas emissions were equivalent to 0.04 tons of CO2 compared to paper’s 0.08 tons. Plastic bags used 58 gallons of fresh water, while paper used 1,004 gallons. Energy use totaled 763 megajoules for plastic, and 2,622 megajoules for paper.     Sulfur dioxide, a type of sulfur oxide, and nitrogen oxide emitted from coal-fired power plants that produce the energy for processing bags contribute to acid rain. The plastic bag produced 50.5 grams of sulfur oxides compared to 579 grams for the paper bag; and 45.4 grams of nitrogen oxides, compared to 264 grams for paper.     A 2011 U.K. study compared bags made of HDPE, LDPE, non-woven polypropylene, a biopolymer made from a starch polyester, paper and cotton. It assessed the impacts in nine categories: global warming potential, depletion of resources such as fossil fuels, acidification, eutrophication, human toxicity, fresh water toxicity, marine toxicity, terrestrial toxicity and smog creation. It found that HDPE bags had the lowest environmental impacts of the lightweight bags in eight of the nine categories because it was the lightest bag of the group.     Cotton totes     Cotton bags are made from a renewable resource and are biodegradable. They are also strong and durable so they can be reused multiple times.     Cotton first needs to be harvested, then cotton bolls go through the ginning process, which separates the cotton from stems and leaves. Only 33 percent of the harvested cotton is usable. The cotton is then baled and shipped to cotton mills to be fluffed up, cleaned, flattened and spun. The cotton threads are woven into fabric, which then undergoes a chemical washing process and bleaching, after which it can also be dyed and printed. Spinning, weaving and other manufacturing processes are energy intensive. Washing, bleaching, dyeing, printing and other processes use large amounts of water and electricity.     To be safe, wash reusable bags in warm or hot water after shopping, which can reduce the bacteria by 99.9 percent and kill COVID-19. Only use the bags for groceries and ideally, put meats into a separate bag since meat juices left in bags can enable bacteria to grow quickly. Don’t leave reusable bags in the car because when it gets hot, bags become an ideal place for bacteria to grow.     Paper bags     Paper bags are made from a renewable resource and are biodegradable. In the U.S., over 10 billion paper bags are consumed each year, requiring the felling of 14 million trees.     Once the trees are cut down, the logs are moved to a mill where they can wait up to three years until they dry out. Once ready, bark is stripped off and the wood is chipped into one-inch cubes that are subjected to high heat and pressure. They are then mixed with limestone and sulfurous acid until the combination becomes pulp. The pulp is washed with fresh water and bleach then pressed into paper, which is cut, printed, packaged and shipped. As a result of the heavy use of toxic chemicals in the process, paper is responsible for 70 times more air pollution and 50 times more water pollution than plastic bag production according to a Washington Post analysis, resulting in more toxicity to humans and the environment than HDPE bags.      Whichever way you respond, you probably have your reasons. Maybe you’re planning to recycle or reuse that paper bag, or maybe you use those plastic grocery shopping bags for cleaning around the house. Maybe you think your choice, whether it’s paper or plastic, is the more environmentally friendly option. But in reality, whatever you’re choosing between paper and plastic, no matter your intentions, you’re still choosing “wrong” — because there’s a better option out there: a reusable grocery bag.     Reusable grocery bags, including drawstring bag, can be used for a lot more than carrying groceries. A nice reusable bag is essentially a structured tote bag, and can be used for many of the things you’d use a tote bag for. You can pack your lunch in them, use them to carry snacks on a road trip, take books to and from the library, etc.

Publish Date: 2021/08/04

How to make a doll's house

Description:     A DIY Doll House is a toy your child will treasure for years – and if it’s one you’ve made yourself, it will be all the more special. This basic design is an achievable D.I.Y. project, which we have decorated with materials like adhesive film and wallpaper samples, but you can put your own style stamp on it if you choose! To shortcut the first step, have the larger rectangular pieces cut in store.     Cut, measure and mark plywood                               From the plywood, cut a piece 600mm high x 596mm (the width of the panel) for the back wall, three 582mm-wide x 300mm-deep floors, and four 400mm high x 300mm wide pieces for the sides and doors. Along the 596mm width of the plywood, measure up 200mm and mark the centre to cut a triangle for the roof front. Save the offcuts to make the internal walls.                                 Cut out roof triangle                                                                   Position the roof front at the top of the back piece as a template to mark out the top of the triangle, then cut with a handsaw. Smooth over all the pieces with 180-grit abrasive paper, removing any breakout from along the cuts, wiping away dust with a cloth.                                                 Assemble the side and back panels                                                               To assemble, use set squares with clamps to stand the side pieces up, run adhesive along the back edges, then position the back piece and secure with bullethead nails at 100mm intervals.                                                                 Tips: Tap the nails 20mm in from the ends to avoid splitting the timber, pulling the plywood into position as you go. When working with PVA adhesive, have a clean damp cloth on hand to wipe away excess as you go, to avoid drips and smudges.                                                             Install base and rooftop floor                                                                             To install the base and rooftop floor, apply adhesive around the back and side edges, positioning them inside and flush with the end of the walls, securing from outside with nails.                                                                                                     Tip: Trim self-adhesive film to size with a utility knife and cover the floors before installing.                                                 Affix middle floor                                                             Install the middle floor by marking 200mm up the inside and outside of the walls. Apply adhesive around the back and side edges, tap into position and secure from the outside with nails.                                                                                                     Tip: Stick wallpaper onto the back wall before adding the floor.                 Insert internal walls                               Make the internal walls from the plywood offcuts, cutting two 250mm x 193mm pieces, sliding them onto the ground floor and middle floor. Tip: If they don't wedge snugly, apply adhesive to the top, back and base, slide into position, clamp and leave to dry.   Attach doors                     To hang the doors, position them flush with the top floor. Mark 10mm in from the edges to position hinges at the top and base, using a screwdriver to secure with 6mm screws. Use 6mm screws to install a magnetic catch to the under-side of the middle floor, with the supplied magnets positioned on the inside of the doors.   Drill window and rafter holes                   Clamp the roof front to a stable surface, mark centre and 72.5mm up from the base and use a 92mm hole saw to drill the round window. Position the roof front against the back wall, clamp, mark centre and 22mm down from the point and use a 22mm hole saw to drill both rafter holes. Sand smooth.   Position the rafter     Apply adhesive around the rafter holes and along the base of the roof front. Position the dowel in the holes and angle the base of the roof front to sit on the top floor, flush with the front. Clamp, secure with nails up through the rooftop floor, then leave to dry. DIY Villa Doll House Series extras Ladder: Make a ladder from 12 pieces of 8mm dowel cut to 50mm long. Drill holes either end with a 2mm bit. Thread 3mm macramé cord through one end of each, add an eye hook then thread back through the opposite side. Space the rungs 30mm apart, dab with adhesive, knot the ends and leave to dry. Twist the eye hook into the underside of the top floor. Swing: On a plywood offcut of 40mm x 70mm, drill 2mm holes in the corners. Thread macramé cord through holes and over the dowel rafter, then knot the ends.                                 Surfboards: Cut surfboard shapes from 5mm balsa wood, smooth the edges with abrasive paper and apply two coats of paint with a flat craft brush.         The fun thing about creating a dollhouse from an existing piece of furniture is that it's sort of a miniature renovation project. There are a few initial plans you can make: color palette, décor style, and number of rooms, but everything else unfolds as you go. Flea markets, yard sales, and online marketplaces are great sources for finding the perfect piece of furniture to transform into a dollhouse.                                     You can upcycle virtually any piece of furniture as long as it has (or had, at one time) drawers or cubbies behind the doors. Wood dressers are wonderful, as are old metal cabinets and anything that can be accessed from the front. Lastly, check to be sure your piece is in good fixable condition and is free of mold or offensive smells. Try to get a good deal on your piece—the more you save on the build, the more you can spend on all of the decorative elements inside. We've outlined a few tips to help you with your project. How to Turn a Dresser Into a Custom Dollhouse                                       Prepping                                     Remove the drawers and wipe down the interior. Use a dry paint brush or the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to get rid of remaining dust or cobwebs. Inspect the drawers to see if you can reuse any of the wood. In some cases, you might be able to use the base of the drawer as walls or flooring in the DIY midsize doll house series. The idea here is to reuse as much as possible.     Painting the interior helps make everything to be more cohesive, and this is where the dollhouse starts to look less like a dresser. Paint stores sell samples that are the perfect size for the job—one or two coats of a flat or eggshell interior paint are usually all you'll need for coverage. For this project, we used Sherwin Williams Celery (6421) on the interior, Offbeat Green (6706) on the shingles, and Basque Green (6426) on the windows. The exterior was already painted when it was purchased.                                              Once you decide on a color palette, draw a rough sketch of the dollhouse and plan out how many paint colors you'll need to order. Tip: Pick out two more paint colors than you think you'll need—it's good to have options.                                                                               Flooring         Hardboard project panels can be found in 2-by-4 foot pieces at hardware stores like Home Depot, and they're easy to cut with an oscillating tool like the Milwaukee M12 12-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool and thin enough that they won't take up too much space inside the dollhouse.                                                   Once the hardboard has been measured and cut, run a bead of Gorilla Wood Glue around the drawer rail, place the flooring and weigh it down with heavy books until dry. You can paint the floor to match the interior walls, or wait until the decorating phase to finish it.     Installing Walls   The beauty of this project is that you can design the DIY small doll house series's interior entirely to your vision. If you want to wall off the space and create multiple rooms, do just that. If you love an open floor plan, skip putting up walls. Taking measurements in a small, enclosed space can be a reach, but a vinyl tape measure and an extra set of hands makes the job much easier.                                                     Create mock walls out of foam core and make adjustments with a utility knife, then use them as stencil to cut your walls out of the hardboard. Or, if you don't want to commit to permanent walls and like the option of multiple layouts, stick with foam core walls. A small dab of hot glue will keep them in place, which makes them easy to pop out once you're ready for a new configuration.         Decorating There are so many fun options when it comes to furniture and décor for your dollhouse, and the options definitely aren't limited to "Victorian" or "farmhouse" like they were in the '90s. Etsy has an unending supply of one-of-a-kind furniture options in every style imaginable; just be sure you're searching for 1:12 scale dollhouse furniture and miniatures (1:6 if you're building a dollhouse for Barbie or other 12-inch dolls).           Peel and stick removable wallpaper samples from your favorite companies are affordable and fun options. We were inspired by ones like Chasing Paper's Beaver Meadow. Craft paper, fabric, and stencils can be used for flooring and area rugs. Some big box stores have an impressive amount of DIY miniature furniture, and seem to have even more available online. Craft stores are a great source for project hardware and exterior items like shingles, trim, windows, faux flooring, and other notions that create even more distance between dresser and dollhouse.                                        

Publish Date: 2021/08/04

How to Buy a Baby Stroller

Description:   Whether you’re headed to the park for a leisurely stroll or to Paris to see all of the sights, a stroller is a must-have for life on the go with baby. The right stroller not only gives baby a safe place to sit or snooze, but it also provides a place for you to stash all of those must-have essentials, from wipes and diapers to a change of clothes and an extra pacifier.      But finding the best stroller isn’t easy. The market is saturated with all different types of models and prices that vary widely from as little as $30 to upwards of thousands of dollars. So when you begin your hunt, first consider your budget. Then, think about how you plan to use your stroller to narrow down your options. Ask yourself some key questions, like: Where are you going to use it? Where are you going to store it? How many babies will be using it? And how much stuff do they have?     A basic lightweight umbrella stroller makes travel (and storage) easy, while high-function stroller systems boast helpful features like extra storage and snap-on bassinets or car seats. For some, a basic model for occasional use is perfectly suitable. For others, the splurge on a more advanced model is well worth it — even if it feels like a big investment. If you frequently take baby out and about or plan to have multiple kids, your stroller will likely get miles and years of use.     Before you purchase, don’t be afraid to try out your top choices. A trial run goes a long way in making sure it works for baby’s needs — and for the needs of other family members who will be pushing it, folding it and stowing their things within it along the way.     What are the different types of strollers?     There are six basic types of strollers:             Full-sized stroller               Lightweight or umbrella stroller                   Jogging stroller                 Double stroller                   Car seat carrier                   Travel system            It’s worth noting that although many strollers do fit squarely into the above categories, there are plenty that don’t. Some baby jogger can have characteristics of more than one type (i.e. a double jogging stroller).     Full-sized stroller     What it is: If you’re hoping to invest in one stroller that’ll wheel your baby right through the toddler years, look no further than a full-size stroller. Bigger, sturdier and usually more durable, these strollers are the standard option. Plus, many models come with a full range of features that not only make baby’s ride a joy, but also make your life easier.     Full-size stroller benefits: The go-to option for many families, a full-sized stroller covers all the basics and offers nifty bells and whistles that usually include:                 Wide, comfortable, well-padded seat                     Deep seat recline                   Option to mount the seat forward-facing or rear-facing                   Option to attach a car seat                     Convertible design that grows with baby, from newborn use with car seat (or optional bassinet, in some cases) to toddler use                 Expandable canopies                 Sturdy tires with decent suspension to absorb shock                         Roomy basket for storage       Telescoping handlebars (especially helpful when one parent is tall and the other is petite)                 Useful nice-to-haves, like a cup holder or snack tray      Full-size stroller downsides:         Can be bulky and heavy (if you take public transportation, climb stairways frequently, or navigate busy streets or small stores with your baby, this can make it tougher to travel with)                 May also be a tight fit for a small-space home with limited storage.               Lightweight or umbrella stroller     What it is: You might lose a few of the features you can find in a full-sized stroller, but an umbrella stroller scores points for being supremely easy to handle while on the go.     Lightweight or umbrella stroller benefits:     Often weighing under 15 pounds, a lightweight stroller is designed for portability (some even come with a shoulder strap).       These models are easy to fold, which makes stashing one in the trunk or taking it on an airplane, bus or train a snap.                 Many lightweight strollers still come equipped with beneficial features, such as a partial seat recline, expandable canopy, storage basket and built-in cupholder or snack tray.     Lightweight stroller downsides:                 If you’re looking for a stroller you can use from the newborn months on, a lightweight stroller won’t do. While a few models can safely carry newborns with car seat adapters or bassinet attachments, most umbrella strollers are designed for babies 6 months or older.                   Most lightweight Pushchairs do not have a convertible option, which means if you end up having a second (or third) baby within a few years of your first, you'll likely need to purchase a second stroller.   Jogging stroller     What it is: On the run — literally? Then a jogging stroller might be a good option. Jogging strollers typically have larger, sturdier wheels and better suspension to take bumps and alternate terrain in stride.     Jogging stroller benefits:             Superior suspension lets you walk, jog or hike and keep baby in comfort while on and off the trail.               Many jogging strollers come with a front wheel that can swivel (for flexibility) or be fixed (for stability at higher speeds).                       Depending on the model, other benefits may include compatibility with a car seat (for use from newborn through toddler stages), deep reclining seats, telescoping handlebars and generous storage baskets. A hand brake, five-point harness and wrist strap are key safety features, so don’t go jogging with a stroller that doesn’t include these.             Jogging stroller downsides:               A jogging stroller can be a bit heavier and challenging to assemble.                         If space is tight, a jogging stroller usually can't fold up as small as an umbrella pushchairs.                         Jogging strollers are typically wider than even many full-size strollers, which means maneuvering them through tight spaces can be challenging.           Keep in mind that while most three-wheeled strollers are referred to as “joggers,” not all three-wheelers are actually optimized for runners. Some of the most popular three-wheelers are “hybrid” strollers that lack hand brakes and other safety features, and therefore, aren’t intended to be used for jogging with baby. Serious runners will want to do a test drive to make sure their jogging stroller has the appropriate safety features and functionality.     Double stroller     What it is: If you’ve got twins in tow — or a toddler who’s not ready to give up their stroller days — then a double stroller is the way to go. Doubles come in two formats: tandem, where one child sits behind the other, or side-by-side seating.     Double stroller benefits:             With multiple children, this option enables you to swiftly manage only one stroller.                 Because these models are on the bigger side, there's usually ample storage space.     Double stroller downsides:             Strollers for two tend to be bigger and bulkier, weighing in at up to 40 pounds and with a much larger footprint.               Though there are some lighter options, these are not without issues, as they don’t tend to take bumps and alternate terrain well. As you shop, consider width (does it fit through your door?), mobility (is it well balanced? how does it turn?) and whether it’s compatible with one or two car seats.             Car seat carrier     What it is: These wheeled frames are built to transform your infant car seat into a stroller in just a snap (literally!).     Car seat carrier benefits:       Car seat carriers are compact and lightweight.                 For a no-fuss transition into and out of the car, they are convenient and great for travel.               Some car seat carriers can even accommodate multiple babies.       Car seat carrier downsides:                 Car seat carriers tend to be best for short-term use, since baby outgrows the infant car seat quickly. That said, some full-featured baby prams function as a car seat frame, then transform into a toddler-friendly stroller.                       Car seat carriers generally do not have any extra features like cup holders or storage.     Travel system     What it is: An easy-to-connect travel system pairs together an infant car seat and stroller. There are full-size, lightweight and jogging stroller travel systems, so you can choose a system with the type of stroller you like best.     Travel system benefits:               Having an infant car seat that connects to your stroller with an adapter (usually built in) means you can move your sleeping baby from the car to the stroller without waking her up.                         Being able to buy both components as a set may save you money.             Travel system downsides:             While the baby buggy will usually last into the older toddler years, your baby will outgrow the infant car seat much sooner than that.             If you’re a multiple-car family, you’ll need to buy a separate car seat or base to use with your second car.                   Portable beds, as the name suggests, are those beds that are lightweight and easily mobile. Portable beds are used in places where one cannot use large permanent beds. Portability and compactness is the main advantage of using these beds. Portable beds are usually made of a foldable metal frame, plastic, or lightweight wood, which is covered with linen, canvas, or nylon. The market for portable beds has been increasing considerably over the past few years, owing to the small living space. Also, they are the best alternative for traditional beds because of their multi-functionality and space-saving capability.        Rapid urbanization has led to an increase in residential construction and has thereby increased the demand for these beds among the residents. While the non-residential segment also contributes toward the growth of portable beds, globally. Under the non-residential application, these beds are installed in hospitals, hotels, restaurants, hostels, and healthcare centers. Portable beds are considered as the best choice when it comes to living in a small place or studio apartment. Therefore, the market is projected to experience significant growth in the coming years.

Publish Date: 2021/08/04

The Benefits and Drawbacks of an Air Suspension System

Description:   What Is an Air Suspension System?     An air suspension system is a style of vehicle suspension that's powered by an electric pump or compressor that pumps air into flexible bellows that are typically made out of a textile-reinforced type of rubber. Additionally, Pro Car Mechanics describes air suspension as a replacement to the leaf suspension or coil spring system with airbags composed of polyurethane and rubber. A compressor inflates the bags to a certain pressure in order to behave like springs. Air suspension also differs from hydropneumatic suspension because it uses pressurized air instead of pressurized liquid.     What's the Purpose of an Air Suspension System?     In most cases, air suspension is used to achieve a smooth and constant driving quality, but in some instances, sports suspensions feature an air suspension system too. Similarly, air suspension replaces a conventional steel spring suspension in heavier vehicle applications, like trucks, tractor-trailers, passenger buses, and even passenger trains. Air suspension has also become popular in low-riding trucks like this gorgeous 1982 Dodge D200 Camper Special.     What Is Electronically Controlled Air Suspension?     According to the company now known as Dunlop Systems and Components, at the start of the 1990s, Dunlop developed and installed the Electronic Controlled Air Suspension (ECAS) system on the 1993 Range Rover Classic and again on the Range Rover P38A. The United Kingdom-based company developed the ECAS to include several key features:             Vulcanized, heavy-duty rubber air springs at each of the vehicle's wheels             An air compressor in the vehicle's trunk or under the hood of the vehicle                     A storage tank for compressed air, which allows you to store air at around an average of 150 PSI             Valve blocks which direct air to the four springs from the storage reservoir through a set of solenoids, valves, and o-rings             ECAS computer that communicates between the vehicle's main computer to calculate where to direct air pressure             Air pipes connecting from the storage tank to the air springs that channel the flow of air throughout the rear air suspensions system             A desiccant-filled drier canister to keep the internal recesses of the system dry     The electronically controlled air suspension also features height sensors that are based on sensing resistance in contact with the terrain on all four of the vehicle's corners to provide height reference for all corners. Additionally, further advancements are beginning to feature some Electronic Control Units (ECUs) that are able to fit under the vehicle's floorboard, making air suspension more widely featured in everyday driving.     The Benefits and Drawbacks of Air Suspension Systems     According to Future Marketing Insights, the total value of the air suspension market at the end of 2017 was around $4.3 million. So whether it's a manual or electronic air suspension system, the benefits can greatly improve the ride of the vehicle. Take a look of some of the benefits of front air suspenions:             More driver comfort due to the reduction in noise, harshness, and vibration on the road that can cause driver discomfort and fatigue             Less wear and tear on the suspension system due to reduced harshness and vibration of heavy-duty driving             Trailers last longer with air suspension because the system components don't take on as much vibration             Air suspension reduces the tendency of short wheelbase trucks to bounce over rougher roads and terrain when the vehicle is empty             Air suspension improves the ride height based on the load weight and a vehicle's speed             Higher corner speeds due to air suspension being better suited to the surface of the road     Air suspension increases the transport capabilities of trucks and trailers by providing a better grip that levels the entire suspension. An air suspension system can also be adjusted for feel, so drivers can choose between a softer feel for highway cruising or a harder ride for improved handling on more demanding roads.     In the case of hauling heavy loads, air suspension offers more consistency and keeps all wheels even. The air suspension system keeps trucks level from side to side, especially in cases where cargo is difficult to level. This results in reduced body roll when turning corners and curves.     Even with the benefits of an air suspension system, Driving Tests New Zealand suggests several drawbacks. Some of these disadvantages that so and so reports include:             The initial costs of purchasing and installing an air suspension system — air suspension can also sometimes reach three times the cost in repairs as a leaf suspension system over 10 years' time             Fuel overheads for running air compressor for occasionally pumping air to the correct pressure             Fuel efficiency can suffer from the heavier weight of air suspension over the weight of leaf suspension             An air suspension system's vulnerability to air leaks can result in malfunctions     Some of the drawbacks of air suspension systems are because of some of the mechanical issues they can be vulnerable to. Several of the common issues with air suspension systems that can require repair include:             Rust or moisture damage from the inside that can lead to the air struts or bags to malfunction                 Failure of the air suspension tubing connecting the air struts or bags to the air system               Air fitting failure resulting from initial fitting or infrequent use             Compressor burn out due to air leaks in the springs or air struts from the compressor constantly engaging to maintain the proper air pressure       Even with these common mechanical problems, the benefits can far outweigh the drawbacks.

Publish Date: 2021/08/04

Bedding tips and care instructions.

Description:   We like to think we have addressed virtually every question that one might have relative to bedding. We have also attempted to make most of these articles more informative rather than sales oriented. As you may notice, some of our videos are older and shot pre 4K monitors. We are in the process of re-shooting them in higher resolution. However, the information these articles and videos contain are still relevant. These articles include frequently asked questions such as:          How to remove wrinkles from your bedsheets without an iron.                 To view our article and video that demonstrates how to remove wrinkles in bedding without an iron, click here or read below.                     Water is a wrinkle release, which is why there is a steam setting on irons.                     To remove wrinkles from bed sheets or duvet covers, all that is needed is a spray bottle of water and a little bit of tension applied to the fabric.                     A fitted sheet, when placed over the mattress is already under some degree of tension. Simply spray, spritz, or mist the fitted sheets with your water bottle.                     With a flat sheet, place it on the bed, tuck the foot. Then grab a corner of the flat Printed Sheets at the top of the bed and gently pull on the fabric until it is a little taunt. Then mist the sheet with the spray bottle of water.               With the pillowcases, stuff them with your pillows. Then suspend the pillowcase by the cuff with one hand and lightly spray both sides. Now hold the pillowcase at the cuff with both hands, lightly shake the pillowcase up and down. This will create tension on the pillowcase.                     With a duvet cover, go to one corner, grab the cover at the corner and lightly pull on the fabric to apply tension to it, then spritz the top side, repeat on the other three corners.             Following these steps will make your entire bed look as if it has just been ironed. The best part is this process should take less than a minute to accomplish and can be done mid-week when your bed may begin to look a little frumpy.          How to make a luxurious bed like one you see in a hotel.             To view our full article on the different elements used by hotels to give their beds and rooms a light cozy and inviting look, read our article/video found here.             Decades ago, the Weston Hotel discovered that bedding was an important attribute to a guest's comfort while staying at their property. After all, why do most people stay in a hotel? To sleep of course.             Hotels also discovered that many enjoy a simple, uncomplicated bed. So they began creating beds that were uncluttered and clean looking.             Most hotels that have embraced this concept dress the bed as follows:               White sheets, some may use bedsheets with a little decoration such as embroidery on the duvet cover, flat and solid sheets, pillowcases, and shams.             Hotels also discovered that traditional bedspreads were heavy and difficult to clean and were not cleaned frequently.              As a result, they embraced the use of down comforters, as a down comforter is enjoyable.         What is thread count?               Thread count is a simple measurement. It is the number of weft threads plus the number of warp threads found in one square inch of fabric.             To view our detailed article/video on thread count and additional information on different grades of cotton used in bed sheets click here or read our overview below.               Many assume that thread count is an indicator of quality; it is not. This is why you may find 600 thread count sheets selling for $60 and some selling for as high as $1,000.                      A primary factor that determines the quality of a sheet is the grade of cotton that is used. Substandard grades of cotton are inexpensive by comparison to high-quality grades such as Long-Staple cotton or Extra-Long-Staple cotton.             Although Egyptian cotton is considered to be some of the finest cotton grown, there are also poor grades of Egyptian cotton.                      Because a garment or bedsheet is labeled, Egyptian cotton doesn't mean it is. There is a lot of deception in the market place, likely 90% of the sheets and towels sold that are labeled Egyptian cotton are not.                 Are flat sheet necessary?             To learn more about the benefits of using a flat sheet or not using one, view our article on this topic found here or read below.             One advantage of using one is, a flat sheet provides an extra layer of protection for your duvet cover, coverlet, blanket, or other top of the bed items.             Cleaning a flat sheet is far easier than the aforementioned items.             Some find that they get tangled up in a flat sheet and will forgo using one. The downfall of not using one is you will need to clean your duvet cover or whatever you have on the top of your bed more frequently.                 The thing coming between you and a good night’s sleep might be the thin layer of bedding between you and your mattress.When it comes to improving your sleep, activity leading up to bedtime and the quality of a mattress are more frequently discussed factors, but as it turns out, bed sheets and pillow cases, such as dobby sheets could be the reason you’re not refreshed when you wake up each morning.                  When it comes to improving your sleep, activity leading up to bedtime and the quality of a mattress are more frequently discussed factors, but as it turns out, bed sheets and pillow cases could be the reason you’re not refreshed when you wake up each morning. And, contrary to popular belief, a higher thread count, unto itself, might not be the solution.                 1. Higher thread count doesn't always mean higher quality.                 Think sheets and pillow cases with 1,000- or 1,500-thread count are more luxurious than those with smaller numbers? Think again. Michael J. Breus, an Arizona-based sleep expert known as "The Sleep Doctor," says thread counts exceeding 500 are redefining the word "thread" because, at that point, "what you're looking at is probably two textiles that are woven together."                 Ariel Kaye, the founder and CEO of Parachute, a California-based bedding company, doesn't even mention thread count on her website. "Anything that’s over 400 is a manipulation of fabric or thread," she says. "The problem with higher thread counts is that they use these synthetic finishes; when they dissipate, the sheets are going to be unrecognizable." Both experts recommend thread counts that top out at about 400.                 2. Some materials are cooler than others. Synthetics have a tendency to trap heat, making for a more uncomfortable sleep experience; quality cotton gets better reviews. According to the Parachute website, Kaye’s company uses “Egyptian cotton, combed with precision to remove all impurities.” Breus' preferences are also along those lines. “The bottom line is that pima cotton or an Egyptian cotton are the best materials to use in a sheet," he said. "I, personally, like the sateen type of finish, just because it’s softer." For menopausal women who are prone to hot flashes and night-sweats, Breus often recommends moisture-wicking sheets, which offer next-level coolness.                 3. Wash new sheets before you use them.                   And, if possible, do that more than once. “Make sure that you wash your embroidery sheets set at least two times before putting them on your bed," Breus said, "because, a lot of times, when they’re in packaging, there are that can get on them.”                 4. For sleepers with sensitive skin, detergent may be more of an issue than bedding material. “The bigger deal with sensitive skin has to do with what you wash it in, in terms of detergent, than the actual textile itself, in most cases," Breus said. "So, what you really are looking for is those free from things like perfumes, dyes and things like that." That said, Kaye's company is certified by OEKO-TEX, which checks to make sure no toxic chemicals were used in a manufacturing process. “Fiber might have been grown organically," Kaye said, "but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t processed without toxic chemicals."                 5. Toss bedding in the laundry basket every seven to 10 days. There's nothing that feels quite like climbing into a clean set of sheets, so it might be worth doing a little extra laundry if you want to get the best rest. But switch out the bedding more often if you're more active than most. "Let’s say you work outside, and you’re not showering before bed, then, clearly, you’re going to have another issue; you’re going to have to change your sheets more regularly," Breus said. "But, generally speaking, I think a good guide would be once a week.”                 6. Seasonal bedding might make a difference. “My wife and I, we change our sheets seasonally," Breus said. "We have more of a jersey, T-shirt-y material in the wintertime and a much lighter one, seasonally, for the summertime.”                 7. Buy new bedding every 18 to 24 months. Like most clothing (other than, say, jeans and sneakers), newer bedding just looks and feels better. "Like any fabric, hot water and repeated washing will shorten the life span," Kaye added.                 8. Can't wait that long and want a less expensive solution? Just buy some new pillowcases. “It will completely change the way your bedding feels," Kaye said. "It’s just a really easy way to get that freshness, and make you feel like you have a whole new set of bedding."                             9. Oh, and about that myth that silk pillowcases can reduce or prevent wrinkles? Breus is skeptical, and contends wrinkles are more of a matter involving skin dehydration. “Whether or not you have wrinkles," he said, "has nothing to do with the surface on which you sleep."

Publish Date: 2021/08/04

Automatic Cutting and Stripping Machines

Description:   Improved technology enables fast cutting, clean stripping and simple blade changeover for various size wires.     Without a sculptor, a piece of clay or marble can never reach its full artistic potential. Rotary, V and die blades in automatic cutting and stripping machines serve a similar role to help conductive wire and cable achieve its full electric potential as part of a harness.      Within one or two seconds, these blades precisely cut each wire or cable to a predetermined length and remove its insulation to expose one or more inner conductors. The wires or cables are then manually or automatically crimped by terminal crimping machine before being brought to the assembly workstation, where assemblers use boards to carefully build each harness.      At Gruber Communications, based in Phoenix, workers assemble lots of cable harnesses for use in data centers every day. The company’s priority since day one has been to produce high-quality cables—and make sure that no cable conductor, or high voltage cable machine is ever nicked or blemished during wire cutting and stripping machine's processing.      For more than a decade, Gruber workers used separate pneumatic machines to cut and strip each cable. Eventually, though, CEO Pete Gruber grew tired of the constant maintenance on the machines’ check valves and cylinders. This led him to purchase the all-electric EcoStrip 9300 cut and strip machine in 1998.      Made by Schleuniger AG of Switzerland, the machine’s reliability and infrequent need for parts has enabled Gruber to substantially increase its cable harness production over the past 18 years. In fact, this machine continues to precisely cut and strip cables after more than 6 million runs.      Being able to run reliably for nearly 20 years and cut and strip millions of cables or wires is quite common for today’s automatic machines. There are two reasons for this, say suppliers. First is stateof- the art blade technology, which enables fast cutting, clean stripping and simple blade changeover for various size wires. Equally important are operators who understand, implement and optimize each machine’s cutting and stripping capabilities.      FROM SIMPLE TO PROGRAMMABLE      More than 90 years ago, Haaken Olsen—an up-andcoming engineer at Artos Engineering Co.—noticed an increased usage of insulated copper wire in automobiles, appliances and radios. He also saw assembly workers manually measuring wire to predetermined lengths, cutting it and removing the insulation from both wire ends.      Believing manufacturers would be interested in buying an automated machine that could perform this work faster, better and more cost-effectively, Olsen went about developing one. In 1926, Artos introduced the CS-1, the first-ever automatic CAS machine. Olsen vowed to sell at least a dozen, but things went much better than planned. A new industry was born, and Artos alone has sold nearly 100,000 wire processing machines over the past nine decades.      “Cutting and wire stripping machine machines from the 1920s to the 1950s featured mechanical designs,” explains John Olsen II, president of Artos since 2005 and great-grandson of Haaken. “Typically, three pair of fixed-position blades were used to cut and strip the wire. All setup changes were done mechanically by adjusting cams and moving blade spacers.”      More-advanced electropneumatic CAS machines appeared in the 1960s and 1970s, allowing for push-button control of feeding lengths. Since then, according to Olsen, CAS machines have evolved in three areas to become much more efficient.      One is the improved operator interface, which increases the machine’s capability to process small batch sizes and provides full integration with a marking system (laser, inkjet, hotstamp) or slitting device. Another is the use of servomotors for all wire movements to increase processing precision and speed. The third is faster machine changeover by using quick-change guides and blades, and technology like the Artos Sencor system to automate wire setup.      Semi- and fully automatic CAS machines come in three sizes: benchtop, midsize and large. A benchtop model is best for low-volume and prototyping applications. It usually requires little setup, plugs into a standard 110- volt outlet, and is simple to operate (push buttons, small display, limited programming).      Despite being an entry-level machine, the benchtop EcoStrip 9380 from Schleuniger can process single wires from 30 to 8 AWG and two wires (up to 0.12-inch diameter) in parallel. It is operated via S. ON software on a 5.7- inch color touch screen, and features the company’s Bricks electronic platform for precise wire feeding by using automatic wire prefeeder. An optional belt feeding system can be set for normal, roller or short mode processing.      Midsize machines are designed for medium-volume applications, which suppliers define as processing up to a few thousand wires or cables per week. These machines may or may not be standalone, but they are bigger and offer more programming options than benchtop models.      One such unit is the CS-326 from Artos. The fully electric, servo-driven machine processes wire and cable from 30 to 4 AWG or 0.5 inch OD. It cuts wire to a length of 0.25 inch to 3,250 feet. Minimum and maximum stripping lengths are 0.01 inch and 39 inches, respectively.      The machine features the Sencor system that senses the conductor within the wire and automatically sets blades at the proper stripping diameter. This technology reduces wire waste, shortens setup time and monitors blade wear.      Separate accessories enable the unit to cut Kevlar-insulated wire and strip coaxial and ignition cables. An optional work table lets companies easily move the 400-pound machine to any workstation.      Schleuniger offers six versions of its MultiStrip 9480 machine to cover a wide range of applications (32 to 8 AWG wire) and budgets. Four models (MR, RS, RSX and RX) feature a fully programmable rotary incision unit capable of processing coaxial and multilayer cables. A multiposition indexing cutter head, standard on all models except the S, accepts blade cassettes that change out quickly and easily. The machine cuts and strips wire as short as 2.3 inches and as long as 3,281 feet. In short mode, wires as short as 0.375 inch, with a 0.125-inch strip length on each end, can be processed.      Large machines are for high-volume (up to several thousand pieces per shift) processing of singleconductor wire as large as 4/0 AWG, and multiconductor or shielded cable up to 1.5 inches OD. These standalone units feature large cutter heads, infeed and outfeed mechanisms, an HMI and multiple protocol interfaces. Users of these machines usually require one to two days of hands-on operations training by the supplier.      Most large machines can also be networked with other assembly machines via a plant’s ERP and MES software. Manufacturers especially like this capability because it provides full traceability for every job, and enables them to track how many cycles each machine has completed and when maintenance should be scheduled.      Artos’ CS-327 machine processes cables as large as 4/0 AWG or 1.37 inches in diameter, including battery and welding cables, power cables for appliances, and multiconductor cables for signal and power. The unit’s dualblade cutter head and belt infeed and outfeed systems are servo-driven. Minimum wire cut length is 10 inches in standard mode and less than 2 inches in short mode. Strip lengths are programmable to 40 inches.      Also standard are an integrated length encoder for accuracy and quality, an HMI for PC operator control and a removable wire scrap collection tray. Options include a three-blade cutter head for high-speed processing and special tooling for steel cables.      FEWER CHALLENGES THAN BEFORE      “In the 1950s, the average harness in an American car contained fewer than 50 wires,” notes Rob Boyd, senior product manager at Schleuniger. “Today’s car features many harnesses that have hundreds of wires of varying gauges and lengths. As a result, harness makers need versatile automatic cutting machine and stripping machines to meet this challenge.”      They also need to make sure that their machine operators are trained to understand the dynamics that exist between wire insulation (depending on wire supplier), nonsymmetrical wire, and blade design and performance limitations. Tim Crider, sales director at Komax Wire, cites as an example the lower margin of error when processing PVC-insulated wire as compared to Teflon-insulated wire. Because PVC is softer and less challenging to cut and strip, the operator doesn’t need to pay as close attention to process parameters, blade positioning and wear.      Komax’s Kappa 331 machine addresses these and many other challenging applications. It processes wire from 24 to 2 AWG and cable up to 0.63 inch OD in large and small batches. The unit also performs full and partial pull-off operations on single conductors and individual coax layers, and strips the outer jackets from cables with or without shielding.      A key feature is the Kappa Sensorik laser sensor, which automatically detects the wire conductor and uses inductive measuring to determine its diameter. The sensor and a chargecoupled device (CCD) line optically measure the outside cable diameter and then check that the cable is present during processing. This feature greatly shortens setup time and changeover, and reduces operating errors.      For the past 18 months, a large wire harness and cable manufacturer has been using the Kappa 322 machine to cut and strip three-conductor 14 AWG cable (40 inches long) at a rate of 600 pieces per hour (pph). This midsize unit processes wire from 30 to 4 AWG and enables easy setup and changeover without tools.      “Buying a midsize machine to constantly perform heavy-duty work is a common problem,” says Armando Zacarias, sales and service manager at Eubanks Engineering Co. “A machine that’s capable of processing 32 to 8 gauge wire is really not designed to process 8 gauge wire all day long. Using the machine that way will likely require it to often be refurbished or rebuilt. A better approach is to buy a machine that’s able to process wire as large as 4 gauge.”      Operators use a cassette to quickly insert and remove blades from Eubanks’ fully programmable AirStrip 7400 machine. Microprocessor-controlled and easy to operate, the machine handles stranded conductor wire from 32 to 8 AWG, and multiconductor cable up to 0.31 inch OD. It strips cable up to 20 inches long, and can be programmed to do step and center stripping.      A bit larger in size is the more powerful 2700-05. It cuts and strips wire from 32 to 8 AWG, as well as multiconductor and flat cable up to 0.31 inch wide. Operators input wire processing parameters on the built-in keypad. Zacarias says consumer electronics and automotive manufacturers use this machine in high-volume, low-mix environments because of its high production rate (up to 10,800 pph).      Another ongoing challenge is making the wire and cable as straight as possible before it enters the CAS machine. Suppliers often provide material on the smallest spool possible, which, unfortunately, results in bent wire and cable that may require a straightener.      To avoid this extra processing step, Boyd recommends thin wire be wrapped around spools at least 10 inches in diameter. Thicker wire and cable should be delivered on much wider barrels, so that it unwinds in a large loop that is easy to straighten.

Publish Date: 2021/08/04

IME TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST CONTAINER SHIP FIRES

Description:   Improved technology enables fast cutting, clean stripping and simple blade changeover for various size wires.     Without a sculptor, a piece of clay or marble can never reach its full artistic potential. Rotary, V and die blades in automatic cutting and stripping machines serve a similar role to help conductive wire and cable achieve its full electric potential as part of a harness.      Within one or two seconds, these blades precisely cut each wire or cable to a predetermined length and remove its insulation to expose one or more inner conductors. The wires or cables are then manually or automatically crimped by terminal crimping machine before being brought to the assembly workstation, where assemblers use boards to carefully build each harness.      At Gruber Communications, based in Phoenix, workers assemble lots of cable harnesses for use in data centers every day. The company’s priority since day one has been to produce high-quality cables—and make sure that no cable conductor, or high voltage cable machine is ever nicked or blemished during wire cutting and stripping machine's processing.      For more than a decade, Gruber workers used separate pneumatic machines to cut and strip each cable. Eventually, though, CEO Pete Gruber grew tired of the constant maintenance on the machines’ check valves and cylinders. This led him to purchase the all-electric EcoStrip 9300 cut and strip machine in 1998.      Made by Schleuniger AG of Switzerland, the machine’s reliability and infrequent need for parts has enabled Gruber to substantially increase its cable harness production over the past 18 years. In fact, this machine continues to precisely cut and strip cables after more than 6 million runs.      Being able to run reliably for nearly 20 years and cut and strip millions of cables or wires is quite common for today’s automatic machines. There are two reasons for this, say suppliers. First is stateof- the art blade technology, which enables fast cutting, clean stripping and simple blade changeover for various size wires. Equally important are operators who understand, implement and optimize each machine’s cutting and stripping capabilities.      FROM SIMPLE TO PROGRAMMABLE      More than 90 years ago, Haaken Olsen—an up-andcoming engineer at Artos Engineering Co.—noticed an increased usage of insulated copper wire in automobiles, appliances and radios. He also saw assembly workers manually measuring wire to predetermined lengths, cutting it and removing the insulation from both wire ends.      Believing manufacturers would be interested in buying an automated machine that could perform this work faster, better and more cost-effectively, Olsen went about developing one. In 1926, Artos introduced the CS-1, the first-ever automatic CAS machine. Olsen vowed to sell at least a dozen, but things went much better than planned. A new industry was born, and Artos alone has sold nearly 100,000 wire processing machines over the past nine decades.      “Cutting and wire stripping machine machines from the 1920s to the 1950s featured mechanical designs,” explains John Olsen II, president of Artos since 2005 and great-grandson of Haaken. “Typically, three pair of fixed-position blades were used to cut and strip the wire. All setup changes were done mechanically by adjusting cams and moving blade spacers.”      More-advanced electropneumatic CAS machines appeared in the 1960s and 1970s, allowing for push-button control of feeding lengths. Since then, according to Olsen, CAS machines have evolved in three areas to become much more efficient.      One is the improved operator interface, which increases the machine’s capability to process small batch sizes and provides full integration with a marking system (laser, inkjet, hotstamp) or slitting device. Another is the use of servomotors for all wire movements to increase processing precision and speed. The third is faster machine changeover by using quick-change guides and blades, and technology like the Artos Sencor system to automate wire setup.      Semi- and fully automatic CAS machines come in three sizes: benchtop, midsize and large. A benchtop model is best for low-volume and prototyping applications. It usually requires little setup, plugs into a standard 110- volt outlet, and is simple to operate (push buttons, small display, limited programming).      Despite being an entry-level machine, the benchtop EcoStrip 9380 from Schleuniger can process single wires from 30 to 8 AWG and two wires (up to 0.12-inch diameter) in parallel. It is operated via S. ON software on a 5.7- inch color touch screen, and features the company’s Bricks electronic platform for precise wire feeding by using automatic wire prefeeder. An optional belt feeding system can be set for normal, roller or short mode processing.      Midsize machines are designed for medium-volume applications, which suppliers define as processing up to a few thousand wires or cables per week. These machines may or may not be standalone, but they are bigger and offer more programming options than benchtop models.      One such unit is the CS-326 from Artos. The fully electric, servo-driven machine processes wire and cable from 30 to 4 AWG or 0.5 inch OD. It cuts wire to a length of 0.25 inch to 3,250 feet. Minimum and maximum stripping lengths are 0.01 inch and 39 inches, respectively.      The machine features the Sencor system that senses the conductor within the wire and automatically sets blades at the proper stripping diameter. This technology reduces wire waste, shortens setup time and monitors blade wear.      Separate accessories enable the unit to cut Kevlar-insulated wire and strip coaxial and ignition cables. An optional work table lets companies easily move the 400-pound machine to any workstation.      Schleuniger offers six versions of its MultiStrip 9480 machine to cover a wide range of applications (32 to 8 AWG wire) and budgets. Four models (MR, RS, RSX and RX) feature a fully programmable rotary incision unit capable of processing coaxial and multilayer cables. A multiposition indexing cutter head, standard on all models except the S, accepts blade cassettes that change out quickly and easily. The machine cuts and strips wire as short as 2.3 inches and as long as 3,281 feet. In short mode, wires as short as 0.375 inch, with a 0.125-inch strip length on each end, can be processed.      Large machines are for high-volume (up to several thousand pieces per shift) processing of singleconductor wire as large as 4/0 AWG, and multiconductor or shielded cable up to 1.5 inches OD. These standalone units feature large cutter heads, infeed and outfeed mechanisms, an HMI and multiple protocol interfaces. Users of these machines usually require one to two days of hands-on operations training by the supplier.      Most large machines can also be networked with other assembly machines via a plant’s ERP and MES software. Manufacturers especially like this capability because it provides full traceability for every job, and enables them to track how many cycles each machine has completed and when maintenance should be scheduled.      Artos’ CS-327 machine processes cables as large as 4/0 AWG or 1.37 inches in diameter, including battery and welding cables, power cables for appliances, and multiconductor cables for signal and power. The unit’s dualblade cutter head and belt infeed and outfeed systems are servo-driven. Minimum wire cut length is 10 inches in standard mode and less than 2 inches in short mode. Strip lengths are programmable to 40 inches.      Also standard are an integrated length encoder for accuracy and quality, an HMI for PC operator control and a removable wire scrap collection tray. Options include a three-blade cutter head for high-speed processing and special tooling for steel cables.      FEWER CHALLENGES THAN BEFORE      “In the 1950s, the average harness in an American car contained fewer than 50 wires,” notes Rob Boyd, senior product manager at Schleuniger. “Today’s car features many harnesses that have hundreds of wires of varying gauges and lengths. As a result, harness makers need versatile automatic cutting machine and stripping machines to meet this challenge.”      They also need to make sure that their machine operators are trained to understand the dynamics that exist between wire insulation (depending on wire supplier), nonsymmetrical wire, and blade design and performance limitations. Tim Crider, sales director at Komax Wire, cites as an example the lower margin of error when processing PVC-insulated wire as compared to Teflon-insulated wire. Because PVC is softer and less challenging to cut and strip, the operator doesn’t need to pay as close attention to process parameters, blade positioning and wear.      Komax’s Kappa 331 machine addresses these and many other challenging applications. It processes wire from 24 to 2 AWG and cable up to 0.63 inch OD in large and small batches. The unit also performs full and partial pull-off operations on single conductors and individual coax layers, and strips the outer jackets from cables with or without shielding.      A key feature is the Kappa Sensorik laser sensor, which automatically detects the wire conductor and uses inductive measuring to determine its diameter. The sensor and a chargecoupled device (CCD) line optically measure the outside cable diameter and then check that the cable is present during processing. This feature greatly shortens setup time and changeover, and reduces operating errors.      For the past 18 months, a large wire harness and cable manufacturer has been using the Kappa 322 machine to cut and strip three-conductor 14 AWG cable (40 inches long) at a rate of 600 pieces per hour (pph). This midsize unit processes wire from 30 to 4 AWG and enables easy setup and changeover without tools.      “Buying a midsize machine to constantly perform heavy-duty work is a common problem,” says Armando Zacarias, sales and service manager at Eubanks Engineering Co. “A machine that’s capable of processing 32 to 8 gauge wire is really not designed to process 8 gauge wire all day long. Using the machine that way will likely require it to often be refurbished or rebuilt. A better approach is to buy a machine that’s able to process wire as large as 4 gauge.”      Operators use a cassette to quickly insert and remove blades from Eubanks’ fully programmable AirStrip 7400 machine. Microprocessor-controlled and easy to operate, the machine handles stranded conductor wire from 32 to 8 AWG, and multiconductor cable up to 0.31 inch OD. It strips cable up to 20 inches long, and can be programmed to do step and center stripping.      A bit larger in size is the more powerful 2700-05. It cuts and strips wire from 32 to 8 AWG, as well as multiconductor and flat cable up to 0.31 inch wide. Operators input wire processing parameters on the built-in keypad. Zacarias says consumer electronics and automotive manufacturers use this machine in high-volume, low-mix environments because of its high production rate (up to 10,800 pph).      Another ongoing challenge is making the wire and cable as straight as possible before it enters the CAS machine. Suppliers often provide material on the smallest spool possible, which, unfortunately, results in bent wire and cable that may require a straightener.      To avoid this extra processing step, Boyd recommends thin wire be wrapped around spools at least 10 inches in diameter. Thicker wire and cable should be delivered on much wider barrels, so that it unwinds in a large loop that is easy to straighten.

Publish Date: 2021/08/04

11 TOP TRENDS IN KITCHEN CABINETRY DESIGN FOR 2021

Description:   11 TOP TRENDS IN KITCHEN CABINETRY DESIGN FOR 2021     Keep those counters clean by hiding stuff in shelves!     Kitchen cabinetry is not just for storage. It is an essential element to your kitchen’s style when doing a kitchen remodel.  Cabinetry is the crown jewel that brings everything together.  Cabinet design has not changed much over the last few years; at least not as much as other elements such as countertops or flooring. But here are still a few evolutions that have happened to kitchen cabinets over time.     Today, above anything else, there is a rising movement towards a streamlined look that focuses on simplicity and minimalism. Here and there however, you will find some wild and bold options popping up.  2021 will see both styles get their fair share of love from homeowners. While simple clean cabinetry will keep getting popular, some homeowners will prefer unique customized styles that will make a clear statement.  To design the perfect kitchen, it is important to understand what is imperative to you and then incorporate the latest trends around that. Here are the 11 hottest trends that will dominate kitchen cabinetry design in 2021.     Samuel Design Group     Illuminated overtop shelves look stylish and modern.     Open shelves look beautiful in the magazines, but not necessarily a “must-have” for most homeowners.  Lets face it, you have to have a matching set of dinnerware or specialty pieces you want on display.  But with good organization and the right kind of shelves, you can create a really unique cutting edge style for your kitchen.  Open kitchen shelves instead of wall cabinetry is becoming an even hotter trend. While you may find it hard to go without your beloved closed door wall cabinetry, open shelving has plenty of benefits. It introduces a light and airy feel offering the illusion of more space which is especially great in smaller kitchens.  It’s efficient, since you can see and grab what you need without taking the time to open cabinet doors to look inside.   Considering everything is out in the open, be thoughtful about whatever you place on the shelves. Every utensil, bowl or glass has an impact on the overall aesthetic of your kitchens look and feel.     Here is where you might find similar-colored utensils that create a more uniform look. You can also use wine bottles, mason jars, and fruit bowls as decorative elements. If you have a favorite coffee mug or special recipe books, use them to make the shelving more interesting. But as you mix and match all these elements, think about their individual colors and styles. Try to create a harmonious look that minimizes the risk of clutter that comes with open shelving.  For small kitchens, be careful not to overload the wall shelving. Keep only the bare essentials and place the rest in your items in the base classic style kitchen cabinet. Not only will it make it easier to keep everything well organized, it will help you maintain a sharp look.     Sebring Design Build     This gray island cabinet has blue undertone for a more personalized feel.     Homeowners are no longer satisfied with cookie-cutter kitchen designs. They want something unique that builds character and personality or provides a bold statement. Color is one of the most effective ways to take notice. A different color of paint on your cabinets can make all the difference and separate you from the pack.  Manufacturing companies are taking notice too.  Even though they provide the latest and greatest finish colors, they are still appealing to the masses.  So, they have teamed up with paint companies to provide a limitless array of color for you to be inspired by.     For cabinetry, homeowners are favoring customized colors that perfectly fit their kitchen spaces. Neutral colors are currently big favorites with tones like grey, yellow and soft greens but don’t count out the darker color pallet. Black, navy, and emerald green has the high-end allure many desire.     There are three major color categories you can choose from: light, medium, and dark. Light tones are mostly the neutrals mentioned above. They are loved for their simple, soft clean look. They project a timeless style, perfectly complementing other elements in the kitchen. Medium toned hues are the most common. Here, standard shades of blue, grey and yellow are popular.  On the extreme end of the scale, there are dark shades. Here, emerald green, inky black, navy blue and jeweled plumb tones are common in kitchen cabinetry. Dark shades are the boldest, creating drama and unsurpassed luxury. Still, they are less popular compared to medium and light shades.     Basically, homeowners are seeking out unique colors that not only stand out but work specifically for their kitchen. If you are ordering custom made cabinets, you can choose any color you want. If you already have cabinets and want to renovate them, either get a professional painter or get ready for some extensive DIY painting work.     Oak wood cabinetry is starting to creep back into the kitchen and bathroom marketplace with Cerused and driftwood finishes. In the 1970’s well into the early 90’s, they were the cabinet of choice. Usually seen in a honey spice stain, a version of a raised panel cathedral door with wild grain patterns became the mainstay in many homes at that time.  After a much-needed departure, the popularity of maple, cherry and a rise of engineered wood alternatives reduced the use of oak cabinet constructions. Materials like wood veneer and painted MDF are now more common in cabinet door construction than ever. But as with other parts of the house, many homeowners are seeking connections to their past and a renewed attention to vintage, with kitchens being no different.     The appeal?  Neutral color, dimension & texture, and newfound soft luxury that can be layered into any space creating a blended balance. Oak cabinetry is versatile in its look from seaside or French cottage, clean modern simplicity or a common rustic look.  Often creating a connection to the natural element. This is why oak, despite its stigma with the past, is becoming more popular option in cabinetry construction.  Manufacturers are crafting a variety of interesting door styles–from recessed panels to flat slabs with an inset detail and finishes using oak. You can use oak in its natural color or opt to give it a coat of paint.  Shades of black, blue, & grey seem to be a rising favorite for homeowners.     Keep it simple with white cabinets and minimal appliances.     Minimalism is the perfect style trend of the kitchen area where organization, cleanliness, and efficiency would be the holy trinity. It enables clear, clutter-free surfaces and stylish and sleek materials—what more would you ask for? And minimalism certainly does not have to look boring or unfinished.     Since the kitchen is definitely the workhorse on the house, it may not be easy even to picture getting a minimalist take on one. But simply because less is more with regards to minimalist interiors, this does not mean the area needs to be empty. The appearance must be clean but loaded with luxe stone, gorgeous finishes, and sleek appliances.     We love the white backsplash that works well with the white cabinetry.     Kitchen cabinetry has not been spared the modernization wave that has influenced home décor in recent years. One of the most obvious impacts has been the adoption of clean aesthetics in cabinetry constructions. This minimalism trend is likely to continue into 2021 and beyond.   Modern cabinets are free of the ornate design work often found in traditional modern kitchen cabinet door styles. They feature a recessed panel door with smooth edge profiles and simple clean lines offering only the simplest of design elements. Even the handles themselves come in low profile styles, not demanding too much attention. Essentially, all the clutter has been pared down to the bare minimum.  This type of cabinetry works perfectly with a modern styled kitchen, complementing other components like the countertop and the backsplash.     Bright yellows, turquoise, blues, and reds for this lively kitchen.     Thanks to technology, homeowners today have an almost endless list of cabinet finish colors and techniques. From warm browns to weathered gray, the choices are mind-boggling. For more ideas, check out our Dark american kitchen cabinet?article.  Homeowners are taking advantage of these unique choices.  One of the upcoming trends in 2021 involves mixing different finish colors for a completely unique look. You might have the upper cabinets finished in painted white while the base cabinetry is a natural wood look.  It is all about creating an interesting design by combining different bits and pieces.     One easy way is by making the island a different finish color than the perimeter cabinets.  Since the island is more like a piece of furniture, it’s an easy breakaway piece that you can feel comfortable being bold.  We are seeing lots of black, navy, and chocolate brown at this station.  But don’t just limit yourself to just those options. If you want to take it a step further, you could try mixing two stark colors like black and white or what about going green?  As long as there is a wood element in the space you can’t go wrong.  However, this may require neutral colors for the countertop, walls, and flooring.  Like with most other areas of the house, homeowners are looking to create personal styles with bold statements rather than use boring cookie cutter designs. This trend is just an expression of the desire for more personality.           How to Design Functional and Multipurpose Kitchen Islands     Islands are an essential part of any larger kitchen layout, increasing counter space, storage space, and eating space as well as offering a visual focal point for the kitchen area. Serving a variety of functions, they can be designed in a variety of different ways, with some incorporating stools or chairs, sinks, drawers, or even dishwashers and microwaves. To determine which elements to include and how to arrange them, designers must determine the main purpose or focus of the island. Will it primarily serve as a breakfast bar, a space to entertain guests, an extension of the kitchen, or as something else? And with this function in mind, how should it enhance the kitchen workflow vis-à-vis the rest of the area? These considerations, combined with basic accessibility requirements, necessitate that the design of the island be carefully thought out. Below, we enumerate some of essential factors of kitchen island design.           The size of the kitchen island is extremely important for both aesthetic and functional reasons. An island that is too large will overwhelm the kitchen area and inhibit movement, potentially limiting the workflow of someone cooking or washing the dishes and thereby lowering the functionality of the space. Thus, an island should have at least four feet of space around it on each side, leaving enough room for appliances to open and for people to walk comfortably through the area.           In contrast, an island that is too small may indicate that the island was unnecessary to begin with, adding little enough counter space, storage space, appliances, and seating space that it should be replaced with a cart or table instead. If the kitchen is small enough that the island must be less than two or three feet in length, it may better serve its users to leave the space open. Thus, an ideal kitchen island should be at least three feet wide, and at least four feet long to accommodate either double Island cabinets or a bar overhang. A kitchen large enough to accommodate an island should be at least 13 feet long.           Finally, the height of the island is typically either 36 or 42 inches high, the former being a comfortable counter height and the latter permitting a higher bar area for elevated seating. Islands that are 42 inches high often have two levels or tiers to accommodate seating and counter space separately. Two-tiered islands permit more creative designs and variations, but counter-height islands are simpler and facilitate more uniformity.           Depending on the size of the kitchen and the desired workflow for users, kitchen islands can have a varying number of appliances, including a sink, microwave, dishwasher, or even a stove. For designers hoping to keep it simple, it may be best to house only drawers and modern kitchen cabinet in the island alongside a breakfast bar or seating. For clients who are avid cooks and want expanded kitchen stations or additional cooktops and sinks, adding the aforementioned appliances come with an additional set of important considerations. An island sink should either be accompanied by an island dishwasher or placed in close proximity to a dishwasher against the wall. If a stovetop is incorporated, it may be best to do away with the breakfast bar, and a range hood must be installed as well. Finally, adding outlets to the island could prove highly beneficial for cooks consulting recipes or guests seated at the breakfast bar. To avoid overcrowding the island, the designer should choose carefully which appliances to include rather than selecting them all.           These considerations are closely related to the issue of kitchen workflow. As with any interior space, the designer is responsible for considering flows of movement and areas of pause as well as expected routines and appliance relationships. For example, again, a sink should be placed near a dishwasher, and drawers for bins near the sink. Likewise, it’s essential to have counter space near a sink or a stove, but a breakfast bar generally should not bleed into a cooktop or the people seated will be directly exposed to the fumes and the heat of the cooking. However, adequate spacing or tiers, if done well, can circumvent this requirement. Moreover, a common rule called the ‘working triangle’ indicates that each workspace – i.e. a stovetop, sink, fridge, or oven – should be between four and nine feet apart. This rule is an important reason why the designer should not overload the island with appliances, and adhering to it will allow users to work as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Finally, although designers may hope to include as much seating as possible, seats too close together may inhibit users from eating comfortably without bumping elbows or otherwise running into each other. Naturally, ergonomic concerns are an inescapable part of designing for spaces as active as the kitchen.           Storage considerations tie to considerations of appliances and workflow, as the designer must strike a delicate balance between incorporating additional workspaces and maximizing storage in the kitchen island. If there are ample cabinets and drawers elsewhere in the kitchen, designers can prioritize adding appliances or expanding the breakfast bar area. If storage is a primary concern, then they may have to sacrifice one of the other kitchen island functions. This issue relates to questions of depth and height as well. Because islands typically involve some combination of cabinets and drawers, designers must accommodate standard cabinet and drawer heights and depths alongside appliances and basic sizing requirements.               Finally, lighting is one of the primary ways in which a kitchen island design can set itself apart aesthetically, as many islands incorporate accent lights such as pendant lights or other statement lighting pieces. Particularly for islands with breakfast bars and cooktops, adequate lighting is essential for users to be able to see their food, whether they are cooking or eating.     These considerations are just some of the many that go into making a kitchen island design stand out. To read more about residential kitchen design or kitchen furniture, check out our articles on How to Correctly Design and Build a Kitchen or Space-Saving Furniture Designs for Efficient Kitchens.     White and gray marbled countertop with a smooth finish for this traditional kitchen.     The countertop is an essential component of the kitchen. It is where all the  action takes place. But more than that, the countertop is the foundation of kitchen décor when doing a kitchen renovation. It bares the burden of setting the tone and feel of the space.     Seeing its importance in kitchen décor, it matters a lot what material, finish and design you choose for your countertop. We have put together the hottest countertop trends for 2021 that will give you ideas for your own kitchen. As you would expect, these trends focus heavily on color and material choices. Spoiler alert: quartz is still king of kitchen countertops.     The island instantly becomes the focal point of the kitchen because of its color and finish.     Quartz was introduced as a high-end alternative to granite, check out our granite vs quartz article.  Granite a natural rock, has for years dominated the countertop scene especially for homeowners who want something strong, durable and good looking. But it has a downside–it is porous. This means that liquids like water, wine, and oils can seep through the surface causing staining. Even worse, it encourages the breeding of dangerous bacteria that could leave your countertop unsanitary.     The porous issue can be resolved by sealing the granite surface with a non-porous sealant. But the sealant wears off with time & wear, so the countertop has to be resealed throughout its lifetime.     Quartz, on the other hand, is non-porous and does not have to go through regular re-sealing. This means it is highly resistant against staining and is one of the most hygienic countertop options for homeowners. Add to that the fact that quartz is extremely strong, making it super durable and you can see why this low maintenance material is not going anywhere soon as the countertop material of choice for many homeowners.     Quartz now comes in many colors, patterns, and finishing techniques that mimic’s the look of natural stone. One of the most current and trending finishes right now is matte. In 2021, Quartz manufacturers will continue to impress us with manufacturing improvements to keep this countertops option king. Not just for this year, but for quite some time to come.     Since we have been experiencing a design movement using more textured and tactile surfaces, why not consider it in marble countertops too. Honed and leather surfaces are the most common and can be applied to many different materials, such as granite, marble, and quartz.  Even though polished is still the most popular, there are advantages to these two others.     Honed finish is a matte finish with little to no shine.  The overall look will vary depending on the stone type, but it should have a low sheen and a smooth surface.  Honed finishes work well with marble, since it’s lack of shine conceals any flaws or scratch marks more readily.     Leathered finish is a newer style of treatment that has become more popular in recent years.  It has a soft sheen, that is less glossy from a polished slab, and to the touch has a different feel.  The leather finish retains the stone’s natural color giving it a more sophisticated look than honed. It also hides fingerprints and water spots remarkable well, which is very appealing to many.     These are just a few finishes to consider when choosing a countertop.     Smooth and silk-like veining brings character and style.     Homeowners are seeking a bit more character in their granite countertops. Thankfully, technology is there to offer creative solutions. Today, countertops come in a wide variety of patterns unlike the plain styles of years past.  Say goodbye to the round particulates of countertops past and hello to realistic veining.     Materials like quartz are being designed to resemble slabs of natural stone, like granite & marble. This involves creating veins in interesting patterns swirled into the countertop slabs. This added boost to your creative personality in your kitchen will wow.  Want something even more realistic; then no need for a polished piece–honed and leathered finishes have the durability needed for the kitchen but have a drastically different look in the space.     These varied finishes make for an interesting matchup with other kitchen elements including the flooring, walls, cabinetry, and backsplash. It also adds a twist to your cooking, creating a nice visual background for the multitude of kitchen activities.     Sleek and stylish black countertop with mounted sink.     The countertop is getting the modern treatment and the sinks are not being left behind. Last year home owners couldn’t get enough of integrated sinks, however, those days are behind us. 2021 is bringing different finishing’s, sizes, and styles to kitchen sinks and we’re super excited about it.This year we’re seeing matte black sinks and sink fixtures as well as gold and brass colors take over. These finishes stray away from your typical silver metal sinks. These are also popular faucet color choices foe 2021 bathroom vanities trends!     Oversized sinks are also gaining popularity this year. This is great in terms of functionality. Oversized sinks pair lovely with an oversized fridge! As the kitchen area continues to expand in area and accessibility, it only makes sense that it’s appliances do as well. Elegant and modern styles of sinks are also coming in hot this year and will be highly sought after. For example, farmhouse sinks, otherwise known as apron front sinks are super trendy. Expect to see all these types of sinks as part of 2021 kitchen countertop trends.     The dark charcoal countertop makes an interesting contrast to the white cabinets.     Bold and dramatic counters, especially dark counters, can easily seem very gothic in certain circumstances and also perfectly harmonious in others.     If you seek to create a statement with your home renovation, bold colored porcelain countertops are a great solution. The style is not merely for contemporary spaces (although black stone or maybe Corian counters certainly look sophisticated and sleek, particularly when combined with sharp white cabinets). A bold and dramatic color also functions well in a conventional kitchen; black marble or granite surfaces put gravitas to rustic wood racks or a colorful tile backsplash. On the other hand, dark counters, whether matte or glossy, will help make your dishes, flowers, and linens pop out.     Backsplashes can be a fun part of the house to decorate as there always seems to be new trends and styles. With all the constant change, who can keep up? We are here to help, with your guide to 2021 backsplash trends and styles.     Basic subways tiles are out! Okay maybe not completely, but if homeowners are using them these days, then they are using larger ones. Or even patterned ones! People are moving on to larger slabs of tiles and tiles with various textures or patterns. The color choices are endless here. It just depends on the other colors you choose in your kitchen and of course personal taste. A pop of color would be very trendy right now and allows you to get more creative with your design. Neutral patterns with natural texture is another option for those looking for a classic look.     Another big change we’re seeing in tile backsplashes are their size and the portion of wall they are covering. Large slabs are taking over. These slabs can be marble, quartz, wood, copper, stainless steel, glass…. the list goes on forever! Regarding wall coverage, backsplashes are rising to the ceiling. With upper cabinets on their way out, homeowners are left with more wall space. When it comes to decorating this space, tile backsplashes are a popular choice.     Environmental-friendly countertop made of broken glass.     Wanting to choose sustainable materials for the kitchen not only makes you feel good about your decisions and reduces your carbon footprint, but it also is getting easier to find options.  Made up of a combination of 75% recycled glass and white cement. This product is also free of VOCs and plastic resins. Recycled glass surface colors range from neutrals to bold jewel tones.  Besides the green aspects, the material is durable and an alluring option for your countertop. These surfaces can bring your vision to life elegantly and responsibly.       This kitchen looks modern and industrial at the same time because of countertop.     The beautiful concrete designs, in a quartz world, are entering a new territory but meeting the ongoing demand for a refined Urban aesthetic that lends itself to industrial design. Instantly recognizable even though texture, colors, and patterns can vary quite uniquely from a cloud-like patina to multi-layer monochromatic tonal variations, or  flecks of contrasting colors giving you the feeling that you are looking at a slab of art. The concrete colors in kitchen and bathrooms make a lovely backdrop to stunning design. Plus, who would want the added benefits of quartz, to real concrete? No need to reseal to avoid stains, cracking or fissures over time. Making it easier to keep clean and a merger of the best of both worlds for your home.             Best Countertops for Busy Kitchens     Replacing a scratched, scorched, stained, or just plain unattractive countertop can transform any kitchen. Happily, there are lots of options in a wide range of prices. A new laminate countertop can cost as little as $5 per square foot. Or you could easily spend 10 times that on quartz, granite, or recycled glass.     Consumer Reports tested more than a dozen widely used types of quartz countertops to see how well they resisted stains, heat damage, cuts, abrasion, and impact, and found seven that passed muster. Here are the details. In our countertop tests, performance varied from one material to the next, but there was little difference among competing brands of each type, so be sure to shop around for the best deal on your countertop material of choice. For the pros and cons of each type, see the numbered entries below.     1. Quartz Pros: It mimics the look of stone but requires less maintenance. Hot pots, serrated knives, abrasive pads, and most stains were no match for quartz, which is a combination of mineral, color, and resin. It comes in vibrant colors in addition to patterns that look like granite and marble. Cons: Edges and corners can chip, and you’ll need a pro to repair them. Rounded edges help. 2. Granite Pros: Each slab of this natural material is unique; rare colors and veining cost more. Heat, cuts, and scratches didn’t harm granite in our tests. Polished and matte finishes resisted most stains when properly sealed, so pick the look you prefer. Cons: Periodic resealing is needed to fend off stains. Like quartz, edges and corners can chip and must be professionally repaired. 3. Soapstone, Limestone, and Marble Pros: Soapstone isn’t as common as granite, and it’s superb at resisting heat damage. Small scratches can be repaired by sanding finely and applying mineral oil. Limestone (pictured) and marble are classic materials. Limestone also has a natural-stone look without heavy veining or graining, and it resists heat. Cons: Soapstone nicks, cuts, and scratches easily, and some stains are too tough to be washed away. Limestone and marble also have those drawbacks, and heat damaged our marble. 4. Laminate Pros: Inexpensive, easy to install, and so much better-looking than you probably remember, thanks to new printing technology and decorative edges. Stains and heat didn’t damage the laminates we tested. Cons: Cutting directly on it easily and permanently damages laminate, so use a cutting board. 5. Solid Surfacing Pros: Available in a variety of colors and patterns, it can be used for the counters, sink, and backsplash, creating a seamless look because joints are almost invisible. And like quartz, its color won’t vary much from the store sample. Solid surfacing is resistant to most stains, and small nicks and scratches can be repaired. Cons: It scratches and cuts easily, so a cutting board is a must. 6. Recycled Glass Pros: Large shards give it a fun, contemporary look; finely ground glass makes it less busy. Most glass counters we tested resisted stains, cuts, scratches, and heat. Cons: It’s the only material for which we found a difference among brands. Cosentino’s Eco counters were the only ones that developed a thin crack during our heat tests. 7. Butcher Block Pros: It adds warmth and is easy to install and repair, but the finish makes a difference. Varnish improved stain resistance, but penetrating oils diminished it. Cons: Nicks and scratches can easily happen, though they can be sanded out.           With so many choices at homeowners' fingertips, picking out a kitchen cabinet counter is no easy task. Since this surface area ends up influencing many kitchen palettes, it's important to choose something that looks good to you, will hold up under the kitchen activity of your household and has a price tag that suits your budget. We've gathered links to our guides to 15 popular kitchen countertop materials handily in one place to help you find the choice that suits you best.     Soapstone Kitchen Counters Often used in laboratories for its resistance to stains, chemicals and bacteria, soapstone is a durable and natural choice for a modern kitchen cabinet. At $80 to $100 per square foot installed, it might be on the more expensive side, but it can be a lifetime investment. Guide: Pros and cons of soapstone countertops     Granite Kitchen Counters There are plenty of reasons granite counters are so popular — this natural stone has plenty of character, with unique grains, colors and customizable finishes. When properly sealed, it’s one of the most durable options out there. While it can cost as low as $50 per square foot installed, prices can go up quickly with more exotic slabs and difficult installations. Guide: Pros and cons of granite counters     Copper Kitchen Counters It certainly isn't common, but a copper countertop is surprisingly easy to clean and maintain. However, it's not for perfectionists — since it's a "living" surface, it reacts to different substances, creating a blend of matte reds, browns and greens. But for those who love the look, the minimum $100-per-square-foot cost is worth it. Guide: Pros and cons of copper countertopsContemporary Vanity Tops And Side Splashes     Engineered Quartz Kitchen Counters Perfect for the customized home, engineered quartz comes in just about every shade imaginable. This engineered product combines ground quartz, resin and pigments for a tough, nonporous material. Great ecofriendly attributes makes it a safe bet for green homes, too. Get ready to pay up, though, since costs range from $95 to $105 per square foot installed.     Tile Kitchen Counters One of the more affordable counter choices (starting at $30 per square foot installed), ceramic or stone tile is incredibly durable, and one of the few DIY countertop options. Maintenance can be difficult with all that grout, but choosing a durable and dark grout can make things easier. Guide: Pros and cons of tile countertops     Ecofriendly Kitchen Counters A little research is really all that's required today to make your new kitchen ecofriendly. The wide variety of material styles and costs — from salvaged wood to Bio-Glass to bamboo (shown in this photo) — means you can find just the right green countertop material for your home. Guide: Pros and cons of ecofriendly countertop materials     Zinc Kitchen Counters You don't see zinc quartz countertops in many modern kitchens, but this metal has a warmth that has made it popular for centuries. Zinc's tone darkens with time, adding patina. Its antimicrobial properties make it a smart choice for a cooking space. This beautiful material typically costs $100 and up per square foot, installed. Guide: Pros and cons of zinc counters     Recycled Paper-Based Kitchen Counters Recycled paper sounds like the worst possible material for a kitchen countertop, but this ecofriendly choice has surprising durability. When blended with resins and pigments, it has the look and feel of soapstone — but at $40 to $80 per square foot installed, it's a fraction of the cost. Guide: Pros and cons of recycled paper-based countertops     Plastic Laminate Kitchen Counters Although it’s sometimes scoffed at by stone lovers, plastic laminate still has a serious fan base. The wide range of customizable edges and finishes means it can work in any design. At $8 to $20 per square foot installed, its affordable price makes it a winner for many. However, it’s not the most durable of countertops, so it may not be best for heavy-duty cooks. Guide: Pros and cons of plastic laminate counters     Recycled Glass and Cement Kitchen Counters Although it's expensive ($100 to $160 per square foot installed), this unique combination of glass and cement is a surefire way to add character to your kitchen. Ecofriendly, durable and customizable, this countertop material is a top choice for a "forever home." Guide: Pros and cons of recycled glass and cement counters      

Publish Date: 2021/08/04

The Best Camping Tents

Description:   The Best Camping Tents     All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.     One of the most important pieces of gear while camping is your shelter. Yes, your sleeping bag is also vital, but if it’s raining, the right tent can mean the difference between a nightmarish camping experience in the cold and a relaxing time spent enjoying nature.      With this in mind, it’s important to put some serious thought into what tent you want to invest in. “You don’t want to have to buy a new one every few years because you skimped the first time around,” says outdoors freelance writer and photographer Emily Reed. However, Reed also notes the best tents can get expensive fast—think anywhere from $100 to upwards of $1,500.      Sometimes that hefty price tag can be worth it, but in most cases you can get everything you need within the $150 to $400 range. Think about how you plan to use your tent so you’re not spending extra on unnecessary upgrades.     The four main categories to consider are car camping, backpacking, family camping, and winter camping. While there is a lot of overlap, each of these activities has specific needs that require special tent features.     Regardless of camping style, durability and weather worthiness are the two golden rules that can make or break a tent. Next, you’ll want to ask how many people you plan to camp with. Larger tents will generally be heavier and more expensive than similar smaller tents, but the extra room for bags or more people can be worth it. Most of the time, a two-person tent really means just two people. Sometimes there’s space for a change of clothes and vestibule area (the outside space your rain fly covers) for a bag, but if you want some extra breathing room, you may want to size up.     To find out the best tents for every type of activity, we talked to more than a dozen camping and outdoor experts about their favorite tents, and these were the ones they loved.     Car Camping     With car camping, you’re driving up to a campsite and setting up right there, meaning you don’t have to worry as much about the bulk or weight of your tent. Asia Bradford, the founder of Black Girls Camp, recommends getting a tent that’s designed to fit more people than you need. “What I really tell people is that if they’re new to camping and they know that they want to have an air mattress or what have you, they’re going to need to at least cut that number in half.”     Technically, all the bubble tent in any of these categories would work fine for car camping, but these ones specifically maximize comfort and space for couples or small groups. In this category you’ll also tend to find a lot of extra features that you may or may not need or want. Wildlife photographer and Backpackers gear reviewer Deirdre Denali Rosenberg suggests avoiding “gimmicky things like built-in lights,” because they drive up the price tag and often aren’t worth the extra money.     Two-Person Tent     For people camping in pairs, Reed highly recommends REI Co-op’s Half Dome tent because it has extra wiggle room. While this tent is also light enough for backpacking, at 4 lbs. and 14 oz., Reed has found it really shines in “scenarios where weight isn’t a priority.”     “It’s larger than traditional two-person tents to allow space for your pup or additional gear,” she says. The car tent also features two doors so you don’t have to climb over your partner to get out, mesh side pockets for storage, and ripstop nylon fabric for durability, which Reed notes is a must for any tent. “I’ve had this tent for almost five years, and it’s my go-to for car camping.”     Four-Person Tent     Outdoor adventurer, expedition guide, and co-owner of Dreamland Safari Tours Sunny Stroeer recommends Kelty’s Dirt Motel, a tent that provides a luxury outdoor experience with super-easy assembly and a cool stargazing rain-fly design. She uses this tent for car camping or when guiding on truck-based overnight trips.     “I have found that the Kelty Dirt Motel performs better in wind and is faster to set up than most other brands and models I have used in the past,” Stroeer tells SELF. Along with standing up to 30-mph-plus winds and solid waterproofing, the Dirt Motel has two doors and vestibules and plenty of room inside to move around.     Eight-Person Tent     For everything from large groups to solo car camping, Coleman’s eight-person Instant Family Tent is one of Bradford’s top picks. She uses it for comfort camping on her own and on group trips with Black Girls Camp, an Ohio state-registered nonprofit aimed at bringing more black women into camping and providing a safe space to learn and enjoy the outdoors.     The tent sets up in under a minute with snap-in poles that are durable and easy to use. “It sets up in about 50 seconds, and I’ve used it in the wind and the rain and have not had any issues with them,” says Bradford. The only drawback, she says, is that while the instant-pitch tent is great for convenience, especially after a long drive, it doesn’t pack down as small and isn’t quite as winter-friendly as some of her favorite traditional-pitch tents like the Field and Stream Cross Vent 8-Person Tent ($132, Amazon).     Backpacking     When you’re backpacking, you carry all your gear with you on the trail, meaning every little bit of weight counts. Michelle Markel, a long-distance hiker and founder of supportpubliclands.com, says, “Tent weight is one of the most important considerations, because on a long-distance hike, every ounce counts.”     At the same time, you also have to balance weight with durability because you don’t want your shelter to break or tear during a storm or midway through a weeklong trek. “It doesn’t matter if your tent weighs less than a pound if it leaks water on the trail,” says Reed. For durability, look for tents with ripstop nylon material and aluminum poles.     One-Person Tent     The Nemo Hornet tent is Markel’s top choice for her solo trekking adventures. “It hits virtually all of the important features,” she says. For Markel, this means it’s ultralight (1 lb. 10 oz.), durable, freestanding, double-walled, and easy to set up, and has a side door.     With a fully connected foldable-poll system, the Hornet is easy to set up, and since it’s freestanding, you can pitch it on virtually any flat area. Once up, the tent provides enough space for one person to snuggle up on their own, and the side door makes it easy to get in and out. Markel says the side door “makes the tent feel larger when I have the fly open to the side as opposed to one end.”     At the same time, if you only have the cash for one tent and you want to bring a friend sometimes, the owner of Adios Adventure Travel, Jacquie Whitt, recommends getting a two-person tent. In that case, the Hornet also has a two-person version ($370, REI).           Car camping with family or friends is a summer pastime for many of us. Whether the campground itself is the main attraction or it's simply your base camp for nearby activities, this article will help you find the right camping tent—your home away from home. (Prefer backcountry camping? See the REI Expert Advice article, Backpacking Tents: How to Choose.)           When choosing your tent, first choose a model based on your group's size and whether or not you might need additional space for extra friends, gear or dogs. Keep in mind, however, that no industry standard exists that defines per-person tent dimensions.     When evaluating bubble tent capacity ratings, our general advice is this: Assume a close fit. If you seek more room, consider upsizing your tent capacity by 1 person, particularly if you or your usual tent companion(s):     Tents Seasonality     3-Season Tents     By far the most popular choice of tents, 3-season tents are lightweight shelters designed for the relatively temperate conditions of spring, summer and fall. They are usually equipped with ample mesh panels to boost air flow. Mesh panels keep out insects (but can still let in powdery blowing sand). Properly pitched with a taut rainfly, 3-season tents can withstand downpours but are not the best choice for sustained exposure to harsh storms, violent winds or heavy snow.     3- 4-Season Tents     Extended-season (3+ season) tents are engineered for prolonged 3-season usage, suitable for summer use but also trips in early spring and late fall when moderate snow may be encountered. Their goal: offer a balance of ventilation, strength and warmth-retention.     Typically they include 1 or 2 more poles and fewer mesh panels than pure 3-season models. This makes them sturdier and warmer than their 3-season cousins. Extended-season tents are a good choice for those who make frequent trips to exposed, high-elevation destinations. While very sturdy, they are not as fully fortified for harsh winter weather as 4-season tents.           4-Season Tents     Engineered to withstand fierce winds and substantial snow loads, mountaineering tents can be used in any season. Their chief function, though, is to stand firm in the face of seriously inhospitable weather, principally in winter or above treeline.     They use more poles and heavier fabrics than 3-season tents. Their rounded dome designs eliminate flat roof spaces where snow can collect. They offer few mesh panels and rainflies that extend close to the ground. This hinders ventilation and can make them feel warm and stuffy in mild weather. But when foul winds begin to howl, a 4-season tent provides a reassuring place of refuge.           Key Tent Features     Peak Height     If you like being able to stand up when changing clothes or enjoy the airiness of a high ceiling, then look for a car tent with a tall peak height (listed in the spec charts).     Cabin-style tents feature near-vertical walls to maximize overall peak height and livable space, (and some models come with family-pleasing features such as room dividers and an awning, or a vestibule door that can be staked out as such).     Dome-style tents offer superior strength and wind-shedding abilities, both of which you'll appreciate on a stormy night. They stand tall in the center, but their walls have more of a slope which slightly reduces livable space.           Tent Floor Length     If you’re tall (over 6 feet) or like additional space, consider a tent with a floor length of 90 inches (rather than the more typical 84–88 inches).           Tent Doors     When choosing your tent, think about the number of doors you need as well as their shape and orientation. If you're camping with your family, multiple doors help you avoid climbing over each other for midnight bathroom breaks. Cabin-style tents tend to shine in this area. Also note how easy or noisy the doors are to zip open and shut. YKK zippers on the doors resist snagging and breaking better than others.           Tent Poles     A tent's pole structure helps determines how easy or hard it is to pitch. Virtually all family tents these days are freestanding. This means they do not require stakes to set up. The big advantage of this is that you can pick the tent up and move it to a different location prior to staking. You can also easily shake dirt out of it before taking it down.     Fewer poles allow faster setups. It's also easier to attach poles to clips than it is to thread them through long pole sleeves. Many tents use both clips and short pole sleeves in an effort to balance strength, ventilation and setup ease. Color-coded corners and pole clips also make setup faster. Aluminum poles are stronger and more durable than fiberglass.           Rainfly     A rainfly is a separate waterproof cover designed to fit over the roof of your great tent. Use it whenever rain or dew is expected, or any time you want to retain a little extra warmth. Two rainfly types are common. Roof-only rainflies allow more light and views while offering fair rain protection. Full-coverage rainflies offer maximum protection from wind and rain.           Tent Materials     When you’re shopping, be aware that higher-denier fabric canopies and rainflies are more rugged than lower-denier ones. Also, seam tape and high-denier fabrics on tent floors reduce the odds of leakage.           Vestibules / Garage     Shelters or awnings attach to your tent for the purpose of storing or sheltering your muddy or dusty boots or keeping your packs out of the rain. They can be an integral part of the rainfly or add-on items that are sold separately.           Ventilation     Mesh panels are often used in the ceiling, doors and windows of tents. This allows views and enhances cross-ventilation to help manage condensation. For hot, humid climates, seek out larger mesh panels.           Interior Loops and Pockets     A lantern loop is often placed at the top-center of a tent's ceiling for hanging a lantern. Loops on interior tent walls can be used to attach a mesh shelf (called a gear loft, sold separately) to keep small items off of the tent floor. Similarly, interior pockets help keep your tent organized.           Guyout Loops     Higher-quality tents will include loops on the outside of the tent body for attaching guy lines. Guy lines allow you to batten down the hatches—no flapping fabric—during high winds.           Optional Tent Accessories     Footprint     This is a custom-fitted groundcloth (usually sold separately) that goes under your tent floor. Tent floors can be tough, but rocks, twigs and dirt eventually take a toll. A footprint costs far less to replace than a tent. For family tents that get a lot of in/out foot traffic, this is especially useful. Also, footprints are sized to fit your tent shape exactly, so they won't catch water like a generic groundcloth that sticks out beyond the floor edges. Water caught that way flows underneath your tent and can seep through the floor fabric.           Gear Loft     Most tents come with an integral pocket or two to let you keep small items off of the tent floor. A gear loft is an optional interior mesh shelf that can tuck greater volumes of gear out of the way.           When my sister-in-law bought my kids a giant inflatable Little Tikes Jump ’n slide residential inflatable bouncer for Christmas, my wife and I reacted with a mix of incredulity and mild annoyance. “This looks like a gigantic pain in the ass,” I thought. I was wrong. While we’ve been stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, the bounce house has proven to be a godsend.     My kids, 4 and 2, have been cooped up at home with no school, playgrounds, or friends for nearly three months. They are crawling out of their skin. Having a safe-ish space for them to soar and stomp and spring with an exhilaration both joyful and mildly violent has been tremendously necessary during this endless, homebound spring.     Sometimes they just bounce with joy. Sometimes they wrestle. Sometimes the bounce house becomes the buoyant backdrop for intricate games of make-believe. (Ours has played the role of a boat, a birthday party, an airplane, a bus, and a marriage—don’t ask.) But without fail, they gigglingly bounce themselves to the brink of exhaustion.     When my sister-in-law bought my kids a giant inflatable Little Tikes Jump ’n Slide commercial inflatable bouncer for Christmas, my wife and I reacted with a mix of incredulity and mild annoyance. “This looks like a gigantic pain in the ass,” I thought. I was wrong. While we’ve been stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, the bounce house has proven to be a godsend.     My kids, 4 and 2, have been cooped up at home with no school, playgrounds, or friends for nearly three months. They are crawling out of their skin. Having a safe-ish space for them to soar and stomp and spring with an exhilaration both joyful and mildly violent has been tremendously necessary during this endless, homebound spring.     Sometimes they just bounce with joy. Sometimes they wrestle. Sometimes the bounce house becomes the buoyant backdrop for intricate games of make-believe. (Ours has played the role of a boat, a birthday party, an airplane, a bus, and a marriage—don’t ask.) But without fail, they gigglingly bounce themselves to the brink of exhaustion.     The Jump ’n Slide Bouncer is the only bounce house I’ve owned. I can’t say it’s the best one out there. I know only that it’s the one I have, and it is very good. (Customer ratings and reviews are also, by and large, very positive.) Bounce houses seem to be a hot commodity right now, judging from how many have gone out of stock. Little Tikes carries a number of similar models that may be available if the Jump ’n Slide isn’t.     My two biggest reservations about the Jump ’n Slide house were bulk (“Look at how big this monstrosity is!”) and labor (“Inflating, deflating, and storing this thing will be a total drag.”). I was wrong on both counts.     When my sister-in-law bought my kids a giant inflatable obstacle course Little Tikes Jump ’n Slide Bouncer for Christmas, my wife and I reacted with a mix of incredulity and mild annoyance. “This looks like a gigantic pain in the ass,” I thought. I was wrong. While we’ve been stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, the bounce house has proven to be a godsend.     My kids, 4 and 2, have been cooped up at home with no school, playgrounds, or friends for nearly three months. They are crawling out of their skin. Having a safe-ish space for them to soar and stomp and spring with an exhilaration both joyful and mildly violent has been tremendously necessary during this endless, homebound spring.     Sometimes they just bounce with joy. Sometimes they wrestle. Sometimes the bounce house becomes the buoyant backdrop for intricate games of make-believe. (Ours has played the role of a boat, a birthday party, an airplane, a bus, and a marriage—don’t ask.) But without fail, they gigglingly bounce themselves to the brink of exhaustion.     The Jump ’n Slide Bouncer is the only bounce house I’ve owned. I can’t say it’s the best one out there. I know only that it’s the one I have, and it is very good. (Customer ratings and reviews are also, by and large, very positive.) Bounce houses seem to be a hot commodity right now, judging from how many have gone out of stock. Little Tikes carries a number of similar models that may be available if the Jump ’n Slide isn’t.     My two biggest reservations about the Jump ’n Slide house were bulk (“Look at how big this monstrosity is!”) and labor (“Inflating, deflating, and storing this thing will be a total drag.”). I was wrong on both counts.     Setup is a breeze. You lay the deflated bounce house flat (we do this on the grass in our backyard, but we’ve also done it in my in-laws’ spacious basement in Toledo, Ohio), plug in the included blower (the built-in extension cord easily reaches our garage some 15 feet away), connect it to the bounce house via a yellow fabric tube, and let ’er rip. The whole setup takes maybe two minutes.     And while our bounce house is indeed big when inflated—it has a footprint of roughly 12 feet by 9 feet on the grass, with a height of 6 feet—it’s pretty extraordinary how small and light it is when broken down. When the fun’s over, you simply turn off the blower, and the bounce house deflates and collapses in just a minute or two. From there it’s very easy to pack up. I am a lazy and sloppy bounce-house folder, and even I can get it to a size that is barely bigger than a carry-on suitcase and probably weighs less than 10 pounds or so (without the blower).     There are downsides to a bounce house. I have gasped in alarm more than a dozen times when my daughter has ruthlessly clotheslined her little brother, or when I see their craniums flying toward each other at full speed, a double concussion surely just a second away, before they whiz past each other harmlessly. So far, we’ve been lucky enough to avoid major injuries. But it’s not hard to imagine how multiple kids vigorously jouncing around could smash into each other, cracking teeth, breaking bones, or piercing skin. Please, if you buy a bounce house, set some ground rules. Our kids know that all hard and sharp toys are banned from the bounce house. But on a colleague’s suggestion, I’m now thinking of adding another safety rule: If someone starts crying, everyone has to get out of the bounce house, at least for a minute. (This way, everyone is incentivized to stay safe for fear that playtime could be cut short.)     I also don’t anticipate that a bounce house will last forever. We’ve used ours several dozen times. And while it’s still in great shape, there are a handful of spots where I can already hear the whispering wheeze of a tiny leak. For now, these miniscule apertures are no match for the powerful blower that runs the entire time the bounce house is in use. But one day, hopefully still years away, I imagine one of my kids will carom off a wall with such joyful intensity as to puncture or tear the bounce house beyond repair.     I’m okay with that. These toys may be pricey (ours retails for about $270), and will inevitably wear out. But the fun of a bounce house is its invitation to gambol and twirl and flip and romp with the pure zeal for fun that only children can truly muster. Even if it lasts only a few more seasons, if it gets us through this pandemic, it will have been worth it.                            

Publish Date: 2021/08/04