In 1995 I was driving around Ann Arbor, Mich., one rainy day when I became fixated on my wind-shield wipers. I was then an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan. In the preceding years I had done several studies of what is known in industry as “design for assembly.” The goal of such a study is to reduce the number of parts in any given machine, thus reducing manufacturing and assembly costs. In the course of this work, I had begun to wonder what happened if you took design for assembly to its logical extreme. Could we design products for no assembly?