Newdealdesign LLC of San Francisco and Netgear Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., won a gold award for the design of Netgear's Platinum II modular networking box, which retails for $50-$180.
Designers reduced the part count to eight from 24 and achieved a 30 percent savings in product cost and assembly time vs. earlier Netgear products.
The ABS box measures 6.8 inches by 4.5 inches by 1.1 inches and can operate vertically or horizontally. A strip of Mylar polyester film wraps around the periphery and enhances the glow of the controls.
By using light as a reflective aesthetic feature, the design avoided the use of paint. Netgear is applying the basic design to dozens of computer-networking peripherals.
Newdealdesign also won this year's IDSA Catalyst Award competition, with palmOne Inc. of Milpitas, Calif., for the Zire handheld computer. The Zire has a PC/ABS top and bottom and a translucent thermoplastic polyurethane flip lid. Initially priced around $99, the product won a 2003 gold IDEA.
The Catalyst Award recognizes a winning design's success, demonstrating that design is fundamentally woven into how a business performs, IDSA said.
Design firm fuseproject of San Francisco won for the 2003 concept of a Red Transformer laptop with a 17-inch flat screen from Toshiba Corp. of Toyko.
Materials include injection molded ABS and aluminum. A fiery red enamal coating on the outer casing distinguishes the product. A custom sliding hinge allows the system to transform from a work-related laptop computer to a home-oriented entertainment center.
Apple Computer Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., won gold awards for both its $499 Mac mini-computer and its iPod Shuffle digital music player, which starts at $99.
The Mac consists of a machined, anodized aluminum extrusion with a PC top surface and a three-layer case bottom, including a rubber foot.
The Mac mini is 2 inches tall, weighs 2.9 pounds and entered the commercial market in January as Apple's most affordable and compact Mac.
Sans display, keyboard or mouse, the Mac mini has a PowerPC G4 processor, slot-load combination DVD-CDRW drive and up to 80-gigabyte hard drive, and can be configured with Airport Extreme and Bluetooth wireless communications.
The iPod Shuffle has a PC/ABS shell with an almost invisible parting line. Computer-aided-design tools - Vellum 2D on a Mac and Alias Studio - were used to create the design.
The player measures 3.3 inches high, less than an inch wide and one-third inch in depth and weighs 0.78 ounce. A 512-megabyte model can hold 120 songs, and a 1-gb model holds up to 240 songs.
Nike Inc. of Beaverton, Ore., won for its $110 Considered Boot and $175 mountain search-and-rescue CommCollection, including a jacket, vest and backpack.
The boot includes injection molded foam cushioning as part of the outsole and a single handcrafted piece of hemp lace woven between the upper leather parts.
The CommCollection uses Schoeller Textil AG waterproof and breathable materials along with conductive fibers and smart fabrics integrating electronic switch functions into the apparel.
In a research project, IBM Corp. of Research Triangle Park, N.C., won for creating a concept audio-video speech-recognition system with parts manufactured of thin-walled PC and metal tubing.
Ambient noise and regional accents diminish the accuracy of traditional speech-recognition programs, researchers found. Combining information about a speaker's mouth position and traditional audio pattern data enhances a computer's ability to correctly identify sounds.
Brewery Ltd. of London, a communications firm, won for creating a Web site to complement the corporate Internet offering of Eastman Chemical Co. of Kingsport, Tenn.
Eastman makes PET polymers for packaging, supplies cellulose acetate fibers and has a history in polyester, acetyl and organic chemistry technologies.
Brewery developed an interactive site to connect Eastman with the design community, communicate about existing products and identify new market categories. The highly visual, easily understood graphic-user interface has nontechnical descriptions of Eastman materials, along with navigation tools and relevant content and applications.
Altitude Inc. of Somerville, Mass., and Niton LLC of Billerca, Mass., won for the Niton family of portable X-ray fluorescence analyzers and accessories.
The equipment can test lead paint, soil contamination, mining residuals, scrap materials and heavy metal embedded in plastics.
Protogenic Inc. of Westminster, Colo., made initial cast PU versions of the analyzers and accessories. Hi-Tech Industrial USA Inc. of Melville, N.Y., injection molds the parts in China.
Current models are molded with PC and thermoplastic elastomers, and light pipes are overmolded into the bumper. When the analyzers were introduced in January 2003, silicone was used for the bumper.
Prices range from $20,000-$50,000 for the ergonomically designed analyzers.
Five students at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., won for the Motus integrated automotive-interior concept design for an active paraplegic user. Credits went to T. Jon Mayer, Eugene Bae, John Caswell, Ryan Dickman and Morgan Wise.
A high-performance wheelchair integrates the vehicle's interior with the wheelchair seat, which is used as the seat for the driver.
Once locked in place, the seat automatically detaches from the rest of the wheelchair, which collapses and can be stored directly behind the driver.
Hydraulic lifts can lower the car for user access to the rear seat and storage area.
After research studies and full-scale foam mock-ups, the students created a one-quarter-scale prototype using carbon fiber in a polymer matrix composite for the seat frame, PU for the seat panels and interior trim and inserts and PC for the interior panels.
The design eliminates the time-consuming and awkward transition from the wheelchair to the car required by current systems.
Six other gold award winners made notable use of polymers:
* Tools Design of Copenhagen, Denmark, for the $75 CafeSolo coffeemaker from Eva Denmark A/S of Maaloev, Denmark. Materials include silicone, neoprene, stainless steel and glass. Boiling water is poured onto ground beans and stirred. Coffee is ready for serving after four minutes.
* Built NY Inc. of New York for its insulated, $20 BYO LunchBag, constructed of a nylon-faced neoprene in two identical panels and a single zipper. The bag can double as a placemat.
* Stanley Works of New Britain, Conn., for the $25 FaxMax Hacksaw, which has a die-cast aluminum frame, handgrip overmolded with thermoplastic rubber and a four-color, Mylar-coated logo.
* Mitsubishi Motors Research and Development of America of Cypress, Calif., for a conceptual design of the sporty E-boost gas-electric-hybrid vehicle. Machined acrylic and fabricated polymer matrix composites with carbon and glass fibers were among the materials used.
* Kimiko Ryokai and Stefan Marti at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., for a student project involving an advanced graphic drawing tool.
The device, called an I/O brush, consists of a hand-turned piece of solid maple, transplanted soft acrylic paintbrush strands, a charge-coupled-device video camera in the brush tip and a surrounding ring of white-light-emitting diodes.
The lights and touch sensors translate a viewed object into a form of digital ink for interface with traditional graphic-design devices.
* Suk-woo Lee of Hong-ik University in Seoul, South Korea, for a student design of an audio system interfacing with lighting. Plastics, cloth and light-emitting diodes are among the mock-up materials.