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Print 27 comment(s) - last by TomZ.. on Jul 17 at 8:47 AM

Computers are becoming a fire hazard

According to an official Dell blog, the company has enlisted the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to help find out just what went wrong with a laptop that exploded several weeks ago. According to the original report on the laptop, a Dell laptop exploded into flames at a press conference but luckily no one was hurt.

Lionel Menchaca, a Dell manager for its Digital Media division, said that Dell has been investigating the situation very seriously. According to Menchaca, Dell has already discovered that the cause of the explosion was due to a battery issue. Menchaca however, said that lithium ion batteries like the one used in that particular Dell laptop is just like any other lithium battery used in billions of consumer electronics worldwide. From the blog:

We replaced the customer’s computer and are still investigating the cause. We think it was a fault in a lithium ion battery cell.  Dell's engineering teams are working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and a third-party failure analysis lab to determine the root cause of this failure and to ensure we take all appropriate measures to help prevent a recurrence. By the way, lithium ion batteries are used in billions of notebooks, mp3 players, PDAs and cell phones these days.

Exploding batteries, flaming laptops and other fire related computer issues are becoming an increasing problem recently. DailyTech last reported that cell phone users in Brazil are experiencing problems with their phones exploding. Some of Apple's own products such as the MagSafe connector in the MacBook Pro and MacBook laptops have been reported to be catching on fire recently.




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Some Facts
By TomZ on 7/14/2006 10:07:35 AM , Rating: 2
Battery overheats (that lead to "explosions") can be due to a faulty battery and/or a faulty charger. Charging circuits for Li-ion batteries are non-trivial, and if not done correctly, will lead to battery overheats. Dell seems to try to distance itself in terms of implicating the battery, however, they are still responsible for the design (or sourcing as the case may be) of the battery and the design of the charging circuit. Just because lots of other devices successfully use Li-ion doesn't mean that Dell's battery or charging circuit are without problems.

The blog states that that Dell are in contact with USPSC, however, that doesn't mean they are getting "help" from them, as this article says. Manufacturers have a requirement to contact the USPSC when they become aware of potential safety concerns with their products.




RE: Some Facts
By Pythias on 7/14/2006 10:28:59 AM , Rating: 2
My money's also on the problem being battery related. Probably over-charged.


RE: Some Facts
By masher2 on 7/14/2006 12:11:20 PM , Rating: 5
> "My money's also on the problem being battery related"

Given an explosion involves the release of energy, and the only place where significant energy is stored in a laptop is the battery, one just has to ask...

YA THINK SO?


RE: Some Facts
By Pythias on 7/14/06, Rating: -1
RE: Some Facts
By Shivian on 7/15/2006 11:06:29 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone forgets about the inanimate carbon rod. >:|


RE: Some Facts
By crystal clear on 7/14/2006 10:43:34 AM , Rating: 1

" We think it was a fault in a lithium ion battery cell. "
-Who manufactured these batteries?
-Check up their production process/method.
-Check if they were using substandard material to cut costs.
-Check their quality control methods & if products are checked before leaving the factory.

I have been using IBM thinkpads for years till today-no
problems.I do not know about Lenovo,but IBM made their
products work true to their name.They were manufactured by
LG in S.Korea.
DELL should switch their production facilities back to the
USA-for quality products.


RE: Some Facts
By Etsp on 7/14/2006 10:46:54 AM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Lenovo the new name for IBM's Laptop division?


RE: Some Facts
By DEMO24 on 7/14/2006 10:49:29 AM , Rating: 2
lenovo is the chinese company that now runs what use to be IBM computers. IBm has about a 15% holding in the company though.


RE: Some Facts
By TomZ on 7/14/2006 10:51:02 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I do not know about Lenovo,but IBM made their
products work true to their name.They were manufactured by
LG in S.Korea.
DELL should switch their production facilities back to the
USA-for quality products.

1. Contradict yourself much? Your S.Korea-based products work well, but Dell should manufacture in the US to get quality?

2. What evidence do you have that US manufacturing quality is any better than in other countries?


RE: Some Facts
By Kim Leo on 7/14/2006 11:02:24 AM , Rating: 2
i do agree that it dosn't have to be better quality because it's from the US, they are all just people, however "rich" countries tend to make better quality, and they have to because why should you buy it more expensive if its exactly the same?.. we have similar discussion here in Denmark made in Denmark is good quality but its really expensive, most Danes don't care and buy some 3rd world produced stuff.. when you get paid a lot more for the same piece of work u get a higher(greater?) responsibility.


RE: Some Facts
By TomZ on 7/14/2006 11:10:55 AM , Rating: 2
Manufacturing quality has nothing to do with invidual responsibility or pride, at least in volume manufacturing. That is why there is little statistical correlation between wages paid and quality. Manufacturing quality is instead the result in investments made in automation and process control throughout the manufacturing process.


RE: Some Facts
By crystal clear on 7/14/2006 11:27:17 AM , Rating: 4
" Manufacturing quality is instead the result in investments made in automation and process control throughout the manufacturing process."

Even in this human being are involved-High quality workers,
professionals etc dont come cheap.
There is a quote-CHEAP IS EXPENSIVE.
Dell is atlast realizing that.


RE: Some Facts
By TomZ on 7/14/2006 11:39:15 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Dell is atlast realizing that.

Yes, I'm sure that one laptop that "blew up" is a real serious problem for Dell. I sure hope they can learn their lessons and recover from that. NOT.


RE: Some Facts
By Tyler 86 on 7/15/2006 12:27:48 AM , Rating: 2
A nice hot coffee from McDonalds.
Cost: Ninty nine cent... and 3rd degree burns.
Lawsuit. Millions.

A brand new laptop from Dell. Cost:
Cost: Nine ninty nine ninty nine... and a leg.
Lawsuit. Priceless.

There are some lawsuits Corperations can survive, for everything else, there's bankruptcy.


RE: Some Facts
By crystal clear on 7/14/06, Rating: 0
RE: Some Facts
By rushnrockt on 7/14/2006 12:32:23 PM , Rating: 2
The list of quality products MADE ELSEWHERE is endless as well. Considering that there is more manufacturing capacity outside of US than inside, that should not come as a surprise. I understand that you like the billboards saying BUY US MADE, but at least don't be so silly as to bring it up as a viable reasoning for making better quality products.
BTW, with Thinkpads going under Lenovo name, manufacturing facilities stayed the same, since this is more of a name change than a new company. Oh, and 95% of laptops are made outside of US, what now?


RE: Some Facts
By Phynaz on 7/14/2006 5:24:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, just look at all those high quality US made automobiles....Oh...Nevermind.


RE: Some Facts
By TomZ on 7/14/2006 6:26:42 PM , Rating: 2
That's an interesting example, since the list of highest quality automotive plants contains plants in North America, Asia, and Europe.

http://www.jdpower.com/corporate/news/releases/pre...


RE: Some Facts
By jconan on 7/15/2006 1:33:21 AM , Rating: 2
exactly, just compare the hondas made in japan vs hondas made in the usa. there are more problems with hondas made in the usa than from japan. it may be that usa car manufacturing quality sucks or that autoworkers are slackers when it comes to manufacturing cars. how many lemons can you get... i was at a enterprise and they had a lot of new chevy's for rental but gee the quality sucks. i had a rental where the gas tank cap that was holding the plastic funnel to the chasis was broken. very crappy union workmanship... maybe in the manufacturing process we should start implementing more robotics to lower human error then maybe made in america will mean quality and reliable workmanship!


RE: Some Facts
By TomZ on 7/15/2006 8:14:20 AM , Rating: 2
If you drew those conclusions from the data, then you are reading the data wrong. The data shows that manufacturing quality correlates with the manufacturer, not the location of the plant.


RE: Some Facts
By Samus on 7/14/2006 11:57:29 AM , Rating: 2
If a lithium cell was defective it could takes months for it to surface. If an air pocket were in the cell it could take many charge cycles to shift it to a cell edge where pressure from heat could cause it to burst...

Ironically I heard quite a few pops when I saw the video a few weeks back, so all the cells were either defective, or an elecronic chain reaction was set off by one cell.


about the macbook pro magsafe fire...
By ElFenix on 7/15/2006 6:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
didn't the guy finally admit that his cat peed on it, and that is why the fire started?




RE: about the macbook pro magsafe fire...
By Fnoob on 7/16/2006 9:08:41 PM , Rating: 2
Now that the Gov't is involved, we can count on millions of $$ being spent to come to the conclusion that, yes, cat urine is bad for laptops, and may, in rare cases, cause unpredictable things, such as fire, to occur.


RE: about the macbook pro magsafe fire...
By TomZ on 7/17/2006 12:08:05 AM , Rating: 2
The government is not "involved"; the government has been "notified."


RE: about the macbook pro magsafe fire...
By Tyler 86 on 7/17/2006 5:40:55 AM , Rating: 2
Single handedly, TomZ saves Fnoob from the worry of paying $10 extra on his taxes.

... but they are asking for 'help', and there are agencies like the FBI to do what they're there to do, investigate.

They have priorities, and they don't get a raise in sallary for their time.


By Tyler 86 on 7/17/2006 5:42:29 AM , Rating: 2
I may have dismissed something too soon... the 'US Consumer Product Safety Commission'... oh wait, nope I didn't. Gotta point that out.


By TomZ on 7/17/2006 8:47:52 AM , Rating: 2
My point is, Dell has the responsibility to notify the USCPSC; however, responsibility for finding the root cause of the problem still lies with Dell. USCPSC does not do that kind of work for companies. I stated all this in another comment already on this news item.


"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
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