Inventive Principles Illustrated, Part 4

Interview with Jack Hipple, Author of The Ideal Result: What It Is and How to Achieve It
By Vern Burkhardt
“Consider your current product or business. Go through each of the 40 principles and spend some serious time considering how each could improve your process, product, or business.” The Ideal Result: What It Is and How to Achieve It by Jack Hipple, page 103.

[Vern’s note: The TRIZ inventive principles #1 through 30 were described with illustrations in the last three weeks of the IdeaConnection newsletter. We continue our exploration of these inventive principles starting with number 31]

TRIZ Principle #31: Porous materials involves making an object or system porous or adding porous elements. If already porous, you use the pores to introduce a useful substance or function into the object.

Use of holes to reduce weight, foams, transpiration film cooled structures, foam metals, Goretex fabric, wicking in clothing fabrics, dessicants in polystyrene packaging materials, medicated swabs and dressings, sensors embedded into cavities, controlled information flow, an Intranet accessible by all hierarchical layers in an organization, and empowered customer facing employees are some examples.

Cavity wall insulation is another example of the porous materials inventive principle.

TRIZ Principle 32: The color changes inventive principle could relate to the color of a product, object, or the surroundings.

Color changing thermal paint to measure temperature, use of photolithography to change transparent material to a solid mask for semiconductor processing, fluorescent additives used during UV spectroscopy, color to indicate traffic hazards, use of lighting to change the mood in a room or office, use opposing colors to increase visibility, de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, highlighter pens, camouflage, branding through corporate colors, ‘transparent’ communications, and color sensitive labeling and packaging to indicate spoilage come to mind,. More recently, the use of colors to communicate a state of security alert is an example of the color changes inventive principle.

A relatively new polymer with spiropyran molecules added will undergo electrrocyclic ring-opening in response to a mechanical force. The resulting ring-opened merocyanine molecules are brightly colored, producing red or purple hues in the polymer. What is interesting is that the spiropyran will undergo a force-induced reaction inside of the solid structural polymer, and this reaction occurs long before there is any damage to the solid polymers. These polymers are of interest to materials scientists because they combine photo-, thermo-, and mechanochromic properties into a single system. Embedded mechanophores turn a rubbery polymer red just before it fails.

Another of the countless applications of the color changes, invented by Eric Glowacki and Kenneth Marshall at the University of Rochester, is light-controlled gas permeability of a commercial ‘Isopore’ polycarbonate membrane filled with liquid crystals. They found that the membrane blocks nitrogen gas from flowing though it when ultraviolet light is shined on its surface—the dye molecules bend into a banana shape and the liquid crystals scatter into random orientations which blocks the gas from penetrating the membrane. Conversely, the membrane permits gas to flow through it when purple light is shone onto the membrane because the dye molecules straighten and the gas can flow through the resulting holes. The technology of controlling membranes with light could have applications in cases where gas flow needs to be cycled on and off, such as for micro-scale apparatuses in hand-held chemical analyzers, medical equipment, or even nano-scale processes.

The wide range of inventions using the color changes inventive principle is also seen in a date rape straw, which changes color if it is immersed in a drink containing certain chemicals.

TRIZ Principle #33: Homogeneity involves making objects interact with a given object of the same material or materials with similar properties.

Affinity mapping, using local currency while traveling, compostable plant pots, ice cubes made from drink they will be used in, using materials with similar coefficients of expansion and conductivity, local currency, wooden dowel joints, and common data transfer protocols between two organizations are examples of this inventive principle. The concept of the ‘internal customer’ flows from the homogeneity inventive principle.

The Boeing ‘Working Together Teams’, which include customers and suppliers in the design loop, is another example.

Another example of the homogeneity inventive principle is making a diamond cutting tool out of diamonds.

TRIZ Principle #34: Discarding and recovering involves making portions of an object or system go away after they have performed their useful function. Conversely, it could be restoring consumable parts of an object or their functionality during normal operations.

Use of dry ice for sand blasting, dissolving capsules containing medicine, self-sharpening blades, self-tuning engines, autocatalytic chemical reactions, filters which are cleaned and re-used, disposable or dissolvable packaging, and temporary and seasonal employees are examples.

SharperBladeTM is a self-sharpening replacement blade for mulching and bag mowers. This blade ‘sharpens while it cuts’—the design reflects the discarding and recovering inventive principle. It is a patented line of aerospace-grade polymer blades for both gas and electric lawn and garden equipment. The SharperBlade™ line of products also includes trimmer blades for weed whackers and edgers.

TRIZ Principle #35: Parameter change entails changing an object’s physical state to a gas, liquid, or solid; changing pressure or other physical parameters; changing the concentration or consistency, changing the degree of flexibility, or changing temperature.

Controlled expansion in automobile air bags; dry ice; thixotropic fluids; using the Curie point; changing fonts between upper and lower case and between italic and oblique; pressure cooking; liquid versus power detergents; liquid hand soap which is more viscous than bar soap making it easier to dispense and more sanitary; vulcanizing rubber to change flexibility and durability; lowering the temperature of medical specimens to preserve them for analysis; transporting oxygen, nitrogen, or petroleum gas as a liquid to reduce volume; virtual shopping; telephone banking; retailers’ ‘special offers’ and other promotions; intelligence in on-line catalogues; and getting customers excited about a product are some approaches which have been taken using this inventive principle.

A team at Duke University has developed ‘’angle-resolved low coherence interferometry’, which is a technology for detection of cancerous cells. Its application is to detect esophageal cancer or pre-cancerous cells with a tiny light source and sensors at the end of an endoscope. The light scatters back from the nuclei of pre-cancerous cells in a different way than when aimed at healthy cells. This technology may also be suitable for checking for cancerous cells in other parts of the body such as the colon, trachea, cervix, and bladder.

NEC Avio Infrarred Technologies in Japan has developed a thermo mirror, which contains a built-in infrared sensor that measures the skin temperature simply by a person looking into it. No physical contact is needed. This invention could be used in workplaces or public facilities to screen for people who have communicable diseases.

TRIZ Principle #36: Phase transition is the use of volume or other physical properties.

Use of latent heat from boiling and freezing for energy generation or storage, super-conductivity at low temperatures, the move from analog to digital, organizational response to changes in business conditions, using expansion and contraction during freezing and melting (such as with water), and applications which use phase-change material which absorb and release heat when changed from solid to liquid and vise versa are based on the phase transition inventive principle.

An excellent example of phase transition are heat pumps which use the heat of vaporization and the heat of condensation in a closed thermodynamic cycle.

TRIZ Principle #37: Thermal expansion is the use of thermal expansion or contraction of materials in a positive way. Multiple materials with different coefficients of thermal expansion would be used.

Shrink wrapping, expansion joints, shape memory alloys, thermal switch cutouts, bi-metalic hinges for self-opening blinds, fitting a tight joint together by cooling the inner part to contract and heating the outer part to expand and then allowing them to return to equilibrium, insurance premium changes with perceived dangers, personality and skills matching on work teams, marketing in response to a sudden popularity of a new product, and expanding or contracting marketing efforts depending on the rate of sales and profitability are examples which help us understand this inventive principle.

The well-known example of the thermal expansion inventive principle is the thermostat used in cooling systems of internal combustion engines.

TRIZ Principle #38: Strong oxidants or ‘boosted interactions’ uses oxygen-enriched air for an enriched atmosphere, pure oxygen for a highly enriched atmosphere, or ozone for an atmosphere enriched by ‘unstable’ elements. It may involve using ionizing radiation or ionized oxygen, or using focused energy of any sort of technical or human nature.

Localized breathing equipment, oxidizing cleaners, actual case studies in training and education, irradiation for food preservation, cutting at high temperatures using an oxy-acetylene torch, treating wounds in a high pressure oxygen environment to kill anaerobic bacteria, using ionize air to trap pollutants in an air cleaner, high risk and high return investments, use of ozone to destroy harmful organisms, guest speakers at a seminar to inject new energy into the group, use of case studies, simulations or games instead of lecture-style training, focusing a team on a single project, and a corporate jester are all uses of this inventive principle.

An interesting application of the strong oxidants inventive principle is scuba diving with Nitrox or other non-air mixtures for extended endurance.

TRIZ Principle #39: Inert atmosphere replaces a normal environment with an inert environment. Or it may involve adding neutral parts, or inert additives to an object.

Using argon in welding, carbon dioxide and foam fire extinguishers, having meetings in neutral sites, vacuum packaging, sound absorbing panels, helium filled glass windows, aggregates in concrete, inert ingredients to increase the bulk of food products, time outs or neutral third parties during negotiations, and quiet areas in the workplace exemplify this inventive principle.

An every day example of this inventive principle is adding of inert ingredients to powered detergent to increase its volume, and to make it easier to measure portions with plastic scoops.

TRIZ Principle #40: Composite structures entails a change from uniform to composite materials.

Concrete aggregate, fiber reinforced plastics and ceramics, training with many different types of delivery, piling on a backing in the structure of carpets, deliberate use of different personalities in teams, composite epoxy resin and carbon fiber materials in golf clubs and airplane components, multilayer films and membranes for fluid and gas separation, and combining high risk and low risk investments as a strategy are examples.

Carbon fibre is used for masts in racing sailboats resulting in lighter but stronger masts compared to construction with aluminum or wood.

Fibreglass and carbon fibre surfboards are light and easier to form into desired shapes than if they are of wood.

The ability to recognize and resolve problems is a key skill for engineers, scientists, managers, employees, and everyone else in our increasingly competitive world. What is a problem? Simply put, it is a gap between an existing situation and the desired situation, so problem solving is a single- or multi-step transformation of the existing situation to the desired situation or moving closer to the desired situation.

Successful problem solvers need to be able to apply an effective problem-solving methodology, know all relevant human knowledge, and be able to turn off their ‘psychological inertia’, which may counteract their search for the best among all possible solutions. Describing a problem in generic terms and knowing that psychological inertia can have a negative affect on our problem-solving, creativity, and innovation efforts is a good first step. Forming teams of people with diverse knowledge and skills to work on a complex problem is a recommended strategy. And TRIZ is preferable to many other problem-solving methodologies, such as brainstorming, trial and error, checklists of questions to consider, hypothesis testing, analogy, abstraction, morphological analysis, root cause analysis, reduction analysis, and means-end analysis. This is the case for solving technical contradictions as well as physical contradictions.

Jack Hipple’s Bio:
Author Jack Hipple, a renowned expert on TRIZ, received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 1967 from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Immediately after graduation he joined Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan where his primary focus for ten years was process development, and process and production troubleshooting of bromine and brine based chemicals. He subsequently established process-engineering support for Dow’s newly formed Eastern Division, focusing on latex and fabricated plastic products. Hipple’s appointment as Discovery Research Director for this division afforded him his first formal exposure to innovation and creativity. This training was in processes and with tools that were primarily psychologically based. He was appointed Director of Dow’s Eastern Research Lab in Wayland, Massachusetts before returning to Midland where he became Director of Corporate Chemical Engineering R&D and assumed the role of Discovery Research Director for the Michigan Division. In 1993 Hipple left Dow when it stopped its entire pioneering R&D and returned to a focus on basic chemicals.

After Dow Jack Hipple worked as a Project Manager for the National Center for Manufacturing Science, co-coordinating partially government funded collaborative R&D work among member companies. In 1994 he attended a quality conference and was exposed to TRIZ, and ‘the rest is history’.

Jack Hipple began to teach TRIZ for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2001. He also assumed responsibility for teaching a basic introductory Chemical Engineering course—“Essentials of Chemical Engineering for Non-Engineers”. In 2009 he developed AIChE’s first on line course in this area.

He is the sole proprietor of Engineering Training Services, LLC.

Jack Hipple is the author of The Idea Result: What It Is and How to Achieve It (2012). He has also written articles about TRIZ as well as corporate innovation for AIChE’s flagship publication, Chemical Engineering Progress.

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