|Every 3.14 years I have this question. I know that changing all highway signs would cost a lot of money and would take a long time. Well, had we started fifty years ago we would have been done by now.|
When designing mechanical components or circuit boards (or looking at other's designs) one recurring thought is that our fractional unit system might actually cause inefficiencies and increased cost of goods.
You can look at an American design product and identify it as such by taking a few measurements. Mechanical designers will think in fractional terms and specify "nice round numbers".
For example, a feature might be set to 1/16 of an inch, when, perhaps, a smaller thickness or length would have worked just fine. In this case 1/16 is 0.0625 in, which happens to be 1.5875 mm. Now, a designer working in SI units will probably specify 1.5 mm for the same feature. This doesn't seem like much, but you are talking about 5.5% more material. That's not a trivial amount if you are making a bunch of widgets.
We ship liquids in gallon containers. A gallon is 3.8 liters. If we worked with liters, might we buy and ship three liters instead? Perhaps generating less waste?
This is a very simple example to illustrate one of the mechanism that might be at play here.
Don't know. Just a though in between coding sessions on a fine Saturday evening (Los Angeles).