DULLES, VA. (Aug. 11, 10 a.m. EDT) — 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 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 Super-America 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.
RKS Design of Thousand Oaks, Calif., was honored for the Musini, an interactive, $64.99 product from Neurosmith LLC of Long Beach, Calif. A sturdy,starfish-shaped Musini — a play on the words music and Houdini — transforms vibration into music by adapting piezo-type technology essentially creating a seismograph for less than $1. The components include ABS housing parts, knob and switch caps and polycarbonate translucent parts, trim ring and illuminated buttons. The idea emerged from a teenage son challenging his father, a Neurosmith technologist, to create a device that would sense the approach of his unsuspecting sister.
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 poly-urethane 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.
The recreational products business of Bombardier Inc. in Saint-Bruno, Quebec, received an award for its concept of a one-wheel Embrio vehicle envisioned for the year 2025. Annually, designers at an in-house Bombardier forum brainstorm about the future of recreational products. The designer of the recreational and commuter Embrio anticipates using polypropylene, Santoprene thermoplastic elastomer, nylon, aluminum and magnesium or comparable substitutes available in two decades. The design incorporates gyroscopes, sensors, high-performance brakes, active suspension, night-vision capability, robotic aids and crashproof systems. Work on the concept drew inspiration from Bombardier's futuristic Era unicycle at the 1986 world exposition in Vancouver, British Columbia. The firm has expressed admiration for Segway LLC's 2001 initial commercialization of its two-wheel human transporter, but Bombardier said its thoughts about gyroscope and electronic technology occurred years earlier.
Ziba Design of Portland, Ore., won for a mobile, hands-free cellular telephone headset and FlexLoop-brand accessories from Logitech International SA's audio products business unit in Vancouver, Wash. FlexLoop products have an ear-bud housing of injection molded ABS and metallic rubberized paint. The cordless headset, priced at $99.99, has an injection molded ABS enclosure and injection molded TPE for soft-touch areas. Logitech introduced the products in January and reported instant market success.
Ziba also won two golds for utility winches from Warn Industries Inc. of Clackamas, Ore. The multipurpose Warn Works Utility Winch has a rotary switch housing and clutch paddle of injection molded nylon. Warn introduced the $149 product in September.
Philips Medical Systems-Heartstream in Seattle won for the first automatic external defibrillator to receive domestic regulatory clearance specifically for home use. The $2,295 HeartStart Home Defibrillator has an injection molded PC/ABS exterior case, HDPE pads cartridge with heat-sealable vapor barrier and a thermoformed foam and fabric carrying case. Philips designers simplified the defibrillation process through user trials and created an intuitive unit with easy-to-read graphics and voice prompts. The final design emerged in February 2002 and the product entered the market in November. Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV of Eindhoven, the Netherlands, is the parent firm.
Desmar Product Design and Barker Design Group won for the $948 Dryfield Illuminator from dental product manufacturer Isolite Systems Inc. Each firm is in Santa Barbara, Calif. The soft, one-piece, structural mouthpiece is injection molded of a clear thermoplastic elastomer. A practitioner disposes of the mouthpiece, which costs $2 to $2.35, after use with a single patient. The flexible device infuses adjustable light inside a patient's mouth, retracts the tongue and cheek and provides continuous on-demand aspiration. The system eliminates a practitioner's need for cotton rolls, bleached paper products, aspirator tips and water cups. The product cuts procedure time 30-70 percent, allows a dentist to work without an assistant in an emergency and increases patient comfort, according to the firms.
Designedge Inc. of Austin, Texas, and obstetric products firm Maternus Inc. of San Antonio were honored for the integrated, $7.50 Joey Clamp and Cutter. The device, used in one single-handed action, replaces three separate instruments needed for cutting and clamping a newborn child's umbilical cord. Polycarbonate forms the living hinges, and a variety of colored resins are suitable for the koala character.
PDD Ltd. of London won for designing the $38,000 Pogle Evolution digital film post-production controller from Pandora International Ltd. of Northfleet, England. The new model can control several monitors and up to six rack-mounted servers. Painted PU is used for the front, back and side parts, and injection molded ABS for the digitizer pen, dials, sliders and knobs.
Furniture manufacturer KI of Green Bay, Wis., and industrial design consultant Aaron DeJule of Chicago won for a technology-rich academic lectern. The top is 1-inch-thick, frosted acrylic with a scratch-resistant finish. Two recessed doors slide open to expose the touch-screen control panel. The lectern's basin of fiberglass provides support to the top and houses the control panel, keyboard tray, technology well and adjustment motor and controller. The column's outer shrouds are formed of sheet steel, and the inner telescoping frame consists primarily of steel tubes with nylon bushings. KI, the brand name for Krueger International Inc., introduced the product at a suggested retail price of $3,500.
Design firm fuseproject inc. of San Francisco won for work on the Architect Collection from Birkenstock Footprint Sandals Inc. of Novato, Calif. The polymer components are biodegradable. They include a PU gel pad inserted in the recycled cork/natural rubber insole and thermoplastic PU and cork-latex inserts in the sole. The footwear made its debut in December with suggested retail pricing of $200-$250.
The global consumer design department of Whirlpool Corp. in Benton Harbor, Mich., and Cassinetta-Biandronno, Italy, received recognition for the Duet Fabric Care System and front-loading-washer design research. The Duet includes a $1,399, front-loading washer and matching, $799 dryer. The Duet's front body panels and outer doors are molded from thermoplastics — ABS for the washer and PVC for the dryer — with a fine in-mold texture. The plastic elements are attached to the stamped steel cabinet. Over time, the manufacturer can customize a product line's panel and door colors without changing the basic cabinet. Whirlpool introduced the system in October 2001 and is finding market demand outstripping supply.
Motorola Inc.'s personal communications sector of Libertyville, Ill., won for its V70 phone. The unit has an interior housing of injected molded ABS. Also on the interior, a soft plastic is applied for a tactile feel and forms the buttons of the translucent keypad. The V70's top rotates 360 degrees around the round display, rather than having the usual flip-up design.
Euforia Design Inc. of Savannah, Ga., won in the Design Explorations category for the Survival Pod, which has a housing fabricated of rotationally molded PP. The compact kit was designed to aid Mozambique victims subject to recurring floods and possibly be manufactured in the African nation.
Arvind Gupta, a student designer at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, received recognition for a concept for a recyclable modular hinge sandal. The injection molded components include a frame of reclaimed nylon type 6, an upper sleeve of tactile Santoprene and a bottom sleeve of durable thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer. A user can change the modular, low-cost sleeves to achieve a new look without purchasing new shoes. No post processing or glue is required.
Eight other gold award winners had notable use of some polymers in their designs:
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. of Seoul, South Korea, for the firm's 17-inch, liquid-crystal-display personal television set.
Apple Computer Inc.'s industrial design group of Cupertino, Calif., for the 17- and 12-inch Power-Book G4 notebook computers.
IBM Corp. of Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Yamato, Japan, for a conceptual design exploring limitations of the ThinkPad series of notebook computers.
Moderns Ltd. of New York for a post-Sept. 11, three-dimensional, “spirit-healing” exhibit at American Express Co. headquarters in New York.
BMW AG of Munich, Germany, for the 2002 Mini Cooper S automobile, which is manufactured in Oxford, England.
BMW and its Designworks USA unit in Newbury Park, Calif., for an abstract Art of Car Design exhibit in Munich's Pinakothek der Moderne.
IDEO's Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters office and Moto Development Group of San Francisco for an ultraportable Pocket Digital camera from Fremont, Calif.-based Logitech. Separately, IDEO Palo Alto with Zinio Systems Inc. of Brisbane, Calif., won for a free software application, and IDEO Chicago and Gyrus ENT.LLC of Bartlett, Tenn., won for a research project on a surgical handpiece for ear-nose-throat surgeons.
Brian Carter, a student designer at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., for a design contrasting aspects of myriad low-energy, renewable and potentially sustainable materials with traditional polymer resins.