Plastics play key roles in more than 20 gold winners in the 2003 Industrial Design Excellence Awards competition. The Industrial Designers Society of America of Dulles, Va., and BusinessWeek magazine co-sponsor the annual contest.
Naomi Gornick, principal of Naomi Gornick Associates in Surrey, England, led a jury of 16 design professionals and educators. The 2003 IDEA panel selected 38 gold, 38 silver and 45 bronze winners out of 1,279 entries from 15 countries. Here are selected plastics- oriented highlights about some gold award winners.
Nottingham-Spirk Design Associates of Cleveland won for the Dutch Boy Twist & Pour Paint Delivery System from Cleveland's Sherwin-Williams Co. The blow molded, high density polyethylene container and injection molded, polypropylene twist cap supplant traditional metal paint cans that require a screwdriver to open and a hammer to close. The square Dutch Boy product pours paint through a lip without dripping and has an ergonomic handle. The firm launched the container in July 2002 and, as of mid-March, had more than tripled the number of outlets carrying the Dutch Boy brand.
Upscale milk packaging for Schroeder Co. Inc. of St. Paul, Minn., earned honors for Minneapolis design firm Capsule, which created the redesign and graphics. The opaque white color, European styling and large vertical lettering differentiate the Schroeder brand from traditional milk containers. Consolidated Container LLC blow molds the high density PE containers at its Harvard, Ill., plant, and Berry Plastics Corp. injection molds the compression-lined HDPE caps at its Woodstock, Ill., facility. Flex-Color Inc. of South Saint Paul, Minn., prints graphics on the gallon and half-gallon containers, and printer-converter Gilbreth of Croydon, Pa., supplies full-body, 2-mil-thick Roll 'n Shrink PVC sleeve labels for quarts and pints.
Schroeder unveiled the new look in July 2001, initially at SuperAmerica LLC stores. More recently, Schroeder's business increased 27 percent with its upper Midwest food-service customers and 13 percent at its Minnesota and Wisconsin retail grocery outlets for the six months ended May 31 vs. the previous year's comparable period.
Augustin Product Development of Munich, Germany, was honored for the mobile Watercone unit. Used in developing countries, the $50-$60 device could help billions who wrestle daily to obtain a few drops of drinking water. Augustin invented the mobile, solar-irradiated water collector, and partner Zeltec Engineering GmbH of Cologne, Germany, handles production, sales and marketing. The transparent cone and black pan are vacuum formed from 3-foot-square PC sheets. The cap at the cone's tip is injection molded PP. Used near a body of water such as an ocean, a Watercone can collect 1 liter of water per day. The brackish, salty elements condense as droplets on the cone's inner wall. The product was introduced in December 2001 and continues to build distribution through channels such as nongovernmental development organizations. Augustin opted for molding with Bayer Makrolon PC vs. an inexpensive PET that it said would become brittle and useless within months. The product has an expected life of five years. With bottled water costing 25 cents per liter, a Watercone's payback is projected at less than seven months.
Crown Equipment Corp. of New Bremen, Ohio, won for a lift truck that blends function and aesthetics and makes expansive use of plastics on the large steering column and cowl covers. Six injection molded, polycarbonate/ABS parts cover the front cockpit and span the width of the operator cab in the FC4000 Series electric sit-down counterbalanced lift truck. Designers shaped the plastic parts for an innovative operator-forward concept. The steering wheel is injection molded of glass-filled PP with a coinjected, nonglass-filled skin. Other components include several injection molded nylon levers, a polyurethane battery-cover release lever, self-skinning PU foam side-seat restraint pads and armrest, vacuum formed and pressure formed ABS covers and a rotational molded, linear low density PE storage tray. Crown introduced the FC4000 in April 2001 and said the product's production volumes doubled those of the previous model, which had significantly less plastic content.
Design studio meyerhoffer of Montara, Calif., and Neil Pryde Ltd. won for a collection of nine windsurfing sails with three versions each for flat-water, cross-over and wave conditions. The sail materials vary with performance needs and include taped and sewn, stable but easy-to-tear polyester monofilm and DuPont Kevlar reinforced X-ply film.
Each sail contains 155 parts, including fiberglass battens and polycarbonate batten tensioners, and requires 12 hours of skilled hand assembly in China.
The sails can be repaired easily. Pryde, with its head windsurfing office in Brest, France, developed the sails on the Hawaiian island of Maui and markets the collection through its Neil Pryde International unit in Hong Kong. Each sail costs $450-$500.
Priority Designs of Columbus, Ohio, and STX LLC of Baltimore won for STX's Fuse lacrosse stick with a head of injection molded rigid nylon 6/6 and overmolding of a proprietary, low-durometer resin. The soft, silver-gray resin on ribs of the head's inside walls deadens movement of a lacrosse ball. The ribs are thinner and more flexible near the scoop where the ball is caught and become thicker and more robust toward the throat where the ball is cradled during play. STX introduced the $100, high-performance Fuse stick in December to a market accustomed to disposable sticks.
Design firm Herbst LaZar Bell Inc. of Chicago and Robertshaw Co. of Maryville, Tenn., won for a Robertshaw monitoring system for liquid-propane gas tanks. Housings are injection molded of PP. Supplied without charge to a tank user, each unit continually monitors propane levels and, via radio frequency and telephone signals, alerts a vendor or supplier's service center when a refill is needed. The system was developed in less than five months and launched in March 2001.
Also, Herbst LaZar Bell earned a gold for designing the Comfort Care Line of children's wellness products from First Years Inc. of Avon, Mass. Items are injection molded of PP and ABS and have no-slip grips that are sized for an adult's use in caring for a child. A one-second ear thermometer costs $39.99, and a 10-second ear thermometer is $12.99. The other packaged products are priced from $2.99-$6.99 and include a nasal aspirator, bathing brush, gum and toothbrush set, medicine spoon, hair brush and comb, scissors and nail clipper with a magnifying glass. All became available in retail stores in January.
Design firm newdealdesign LLC of San Francisco and Palm Inc. of Milpitas, Calif., won for the Palm Zire handheld computer, which Palm introduced in October to target the sub-$100, entry-level consumer market. Creators used proven materials and processes in an effort to keep costs low. Molded components include the PC/ABS top and bottom and the translucent thermoplastic PU flip lid. The lid combined elements of an earlier, five-part hinge mechanism into a single component at one-third of the comparable cost. The painted silver back fits neatly into a user's hand, and the product features a polished, white face. The shape and color differ from Palm's former black series.