NejiLaw  is a burgeoning company of about 10 people set up in Tokyo which is offering what the media is calling “the first revolution in the screw in 2,000 years!” At the helm of this company is President Michiwaki, and although his new type of screw is interesting, people can’t help but be more fascinated by the man himself. Michiwaki is an elementary school drop-out who felt that the education system had nothing to offer and so left to pursue a life of self-education and inventing.

Screw loose

At about age 10, Hiroshi Michiwaki “declared a leave of absence” from school and decided to take his education into his own hands. From there he gained work experience with fishermen and construction workers while studying academics by himself. Although he claims that he has so many ideas for inventions that he can’t write them down fast enough, the impetus for his L/R Neji (L/R Screw) began when he was 19 and the tire came of a car he was driving because of, you guessed it, a bad screw. Currently, Michiwaki is being hailed as the inventor of “the screw that never comes loose.”

Image: METI

Screwing around

The L/R Neji uses two nuts which are locked together and spin in opposite directions to slide up the screw as demonstrated in this diagram from the NejiLaw website. Spinning them together one way in the same direction would cause them to push against one another but spinning in the other way would separate them.

The company has won several awards including the Good Design Award and Tokyo Venture Technology Award in 2011. Their L/R Neji is also compliant with NASA regulations which are among the strictest in the world. And with accolades such as these, Michiwaki and NejiLaw say business is quite good and hope their screws can be used in projects that require the utmost safety, such as work on planes and railways.

Screw these puns

A lot of the media attention surrounding NejiLaw seem to say that this nut and screw system is “a revolution of two millennia” and “designed in the face of those who said it was impossible.” While those sound amazing given the backdrop of Michiwaki’s unique upbringing, actually screws like these have been around for some time.

For example, Higashiosaka is home to Hard Lock Industry Co., Ltd and their HARDLOCK Nuts. Although they look the same at first glance, these nuts both turn the same way but wedge together for added strength. They’ve been around for a while and earned a solid reputation for their strength being used abroad and in Japan including on the Shinkansen. They do an excellent job of explaining how HARDLOCK Nuts work in an easy to follow comic strip posted below. However, HARDLOCK Nuts are meant to stay pretty much exactly where they were installed, whereas NejiLaw screws retain their adjustability after use.

And so, while NejiLaw screws are not as groundbreaking as hyped in terms of imperviousness to loosening, they do look to have the best of both worlds in terms of durability and flexibility being easily adjustable as well. And while we can’t in good conscience endorse not sending your kids to school, Mr. Michiwaki’s story does make one wonder: Did this particular man succeed in spite of his lack of education or because of it?

Source: Nikkei Shimbun via Naver Matome (Japanese)
NejiLaw: Official Webiste (Japanese)
Hard Lock Industry: Official Website (Japanese/English)

▼  I’m not sure whose screws are better, but HARDLOCK Nuts certainly wins points for giving a superhero back story to their product.