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Every Tool Has a Story

Over the years, I've often written about innovation in all of its evolutionary and revolutionary, world-changing and process-improving incarnations. But really it all comes back down to one simple story.

Working for New Equipment Digest, I've become a little obsessed with a particular story type, one that has really become the overall theme of the editorial we include in our issues here. It's quickly shaping itself into the voice of NED and everything we're really about.

It starts with a very simple point: Every tool has a story.

Over the last couple years, I've used my editorial page often to talk about innovation in all of its evolutionary and revolutionary, world-changing and process-improving incarnations. But really it all comes back down to this story.

Every single one of the 105 products and solutions we've featured in the July issue, for example, has a story behind it.

FLIR didn't ruggedize its FLIR ONE Pro because they were bored; Xuron didn't create a full line of cutters and pliers just because they thought the world needed more hand tools.

There is a reason all of these products were designed, manufactured, and put on the market. They offer a solution for a real need in the market, backed by real R&D work and real innovation.

Whether these products represent an incremental improvement on a known tool, or something the world has never seen before, it's all really the same story. And it's a story we love to tell here.

This is why the Festo OctopusGripper caught our attention for this issue.

A few weeks ago, John Hitch received an email with very little information and a picture of the scariest-looking gripper we'd ever seen. He came running into my office to show me and we agreed immediately: We have to know the story. We have to tell the story.

And that's how we found ourselves in biomimicry. We didn't aim for it; we just stumbled on a product for which no other product story we've told seemed to explain. Biomimicry just happened to be the story of the tool.

And that, I think, is a good story for a magazine like this to tell. Not that biomimicry is the perfect solution for every problem, not that any solution is the solution for every problem. But, if we tell the stories, if we investigate the backstory of as many products as we can, we will uncover some very good secrets.

Whether it's taking lessons from nature for a better gripper, from Boba Fett for a better wearable, or duct tape for a better mat, we are on a path to uncover the innovation process in all of its infinite incarnations. In the process, I think we can help everybody out there understand why there are so many new wrenches, new valves, and new machines here every single month.

Because everything is innovation. Stories come from everywhere. Every tool has a story.

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