How has your background in engineering played a role in this business?
Interesting question, and in one sense the answer could be – not much. My degree is in Chemical engineering, I pursued it because my career adviser said it was the toughest engineering field. It gave me the confidence to take on other tough projects including starting 3 different companies.
I did use some of the specifics I learned in school in the Army working in a paint lab and then on discharge at a company that made structural adhesives for air crafts. Most people are surprised to learn that substantial amounts of modern aircraft are glued together. The 747, for example, has 40,000 square feet of bonded structure including those giant flaps (next time you have a chance look for rivets on the flaps – you won’t find them).
My work experience related to aircraft has definitely been a help to the design of inversion tables since the biggest design challenge to keeping planes in the air is eliminating metal fatigue. The cycles of pressurization and de-pressurization of the cabin with every flight is very fatiguing to the skin structure and a big challenge to designers.
A tragic example of metal fatigue was the 737 on its way to Hawaii a number of years ago that lost its skin over the first class section. Another simplified example of metal fatigue you can demonstrate at home is to bend a small section of a wire coat hanger back and forth, it will break within minutes. Designing fatigue out of a given structural application is no longer an engineering problem but it requires special steels, likely heat-treated steel.
My aircraft experience was a big help in designing Teeter inversion tables to be fatigue resistant. Currently Teeter is the only brand that meets the new UL specification, UL1647, which tests inversion tables in real-world use. All Teeter tables exceed the UL 1647 set value for cycling under full rated weight (300 lbs in our case) by over 30%, whereas four widely-distributed lookalikes that do not use special steels fail catastrophically (like the coat hanger) at just over 10% of the UL spec value. That is really scary. I don’t mind competition, but I do mind shoddy equipment that can harm the reputation of inversion which has been a great blessing to me and to millions of Teeter users worldwide. Do not even think about hanging on an inversion table that does not meet the new UL standard.