Inventors of manufacturing technology have many sources of inspiration. One is human anatomy, which has led to the development of things like hand-like grippers and collaborative robots. Another is commercial technology that is used in toys. Drawing toys based on gears have been around since the early 1900s, beginning with the little-known Marvelous Wondergraph. The well-known Spirograph wasn’t introduced until the mid-1960s. By then, however, American and European manufacturers were using radial forming to assemble many types of products. This technology uses a Spirograph-type process to form heads on rivets and posts. “The peen tool in a radial forming machine moves along a path that’s comparable to the Spirograph,” explains Chuck Rupprecht, general manager at BalTec Corp. “In every application, the tool moves radially outward and inward, and tangentially overlaps in an 11-point rosette pattern. This ensures uniform forming of the rivet material with the least possible force.” Recently, BalTec provided a RN-181R radial forming machine to a surgical toolmaker to form a small rivet on the clamping mechanism of endoscopes. The rivet is less than 1 millimeter in diameter and requi...