Consumer products from Gerber and Kohler, medical devices from GMP and Ethicon CardioVations and a safety cone from Rubbermaid each used plastics in winning 2005 Industrial Design Excellence Awards. And, of course, perennial winners Apple and Nike scored again.
Plastics figured into the designs of more than two dozen gold award winners in the annual contest, co-sponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America in Dulles, Va., and BusinessWeek magazine.
Tucker Viemeister, president of design agency Springtime-USA in New York, chaired a jury of 17 designers and critics who reviewed 1,380 entries from 29 countries to select the award winners - 38 gold, 59 silver, 51 bronze and one Catalyst.
Here are plastics-oriented highlights of some gold award winners, starting with three connected to consultancy Design Continuum:
Design Continuum Inc. of West Newton, Mass., and GMP Cos. Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won for an electrocardiogram monitoring system that eliminates lead wires and trunk cables between patients and bedside monitors. The equipment entered the market in March 2004.
The $3,000 LifeSync wireless ECG system has transceivers molded of ABS and overmolded with a Santoprene thermoplastic elastomer seal to prevent water ingress.
The Clearwater, Fla., molding division of Florida Custom Mold Inc. manufactures the transceiver housings for GMP Wireless Medicine Inc., a GMP subsidiary.
Bluetooth wireless technology sends signals up to 30 feet between a patient and a LifeSync monitoring device. As of January, more than 32 hospitals had installed the system.
Design Continuum Italia srl of Milan, Italy, won for the design of the 9100 series of environmental room-control sensors for a Milan subsidiary of Johnson Controls Inc. of Glendale, Wis. Eminent Group Pte. Ltd. of Singapore injection molds the closures of ABS. The products include commercial heating ventilating and air conditioning sensors and room controllers. A system retails for about $1,500.
Moen Inc. of North Olmsted, Ohio, and the Massachusetts office of Design Continuum won for the 1996-2000 market research and analysis leading to the introduction of the Revolution showerhead with a swirling water distribution pattern.
Moen began marketing the stem-attached showerhead in glacier and chrome finishes in 2001 and a Revolution massaging hand-held shower with an arm mount in 2002.
WPP Group plc's Fitch design agency of Columbus, Ohio, and Novartis Group's Gerber Products Co. of Parsippany, N.J., won a gold award for the SippySnacker, a reinvention of the spill-proof sippy cup for kids.
Useful for 1- to 3-year-old children, a SippySnacker has an injection molded polyethylene cap, injection blow molded clarified polypropylene cup and snack container, and an injection molded thermoplastic elastomer base and snack top. Gerber makes the product in the United States.
The snack and liquid containers snap together. A bowl-shaped lid holds the snacks in place while a child eats.
Gerber introduced the product in January after retaining its previous cup design for seven years. Designers improved the cup's spillproof mechanism. Ergonomics are better with a narrower cup neck, a nose divot in the cup and an improved drink angle.
Creators of the Embrace heart stabilizer won a gold award. Credits go to Ethicon Inc.'s CardioVations unit of Somerville, N.J.; Herbst LaZar Bell Inc. of Chicago; the State College, Pa., facility of Avail Medical Products Inc.; and the Bozeman, Mont., office of Strategix Vision Inc. Ethicon is a unit of Johnson & Johnson.
During beating-heart coronary bypass surgery, the stabilizer assists surgeons in positioning the heart and stabilizing the coronary artery. The beating-heart method is used in about 25 percent of coronary bypass surgeries.
Avail injection molds the control mechanism housing and clamping-force-actuator components of ABS and the arm-articulation cups of polycarbonate. Designers were challenged to achieve acceptable device stiff- ness via the cam action with limited travel and user input force. Molding specific geometry into the cup and housing components delivered the force from the cam along the axis of the device, keeping it rigid.
Plastics were a key in the flexible neck assembly to avoid metal-to-metal surface contact that could have galled under the load.
The $1,200 stabilizer entered the market in March 2004.
Kohler Co. of Kohler, Wis., won for its $2,800 minimalist Purist Hatbox toilet made of ABS, PP, melamine, vitreous china, stainless steel and brass. The elliptical-shaped unit entered the market in December.
Kohler encloses a 0.2-horsepower Power Lite electric pump in the unit to achieve a design without a water tank. A flush uses 1.6 gallons of water.
Rubbermaid Commercial Products won a gold award for its 9s09 folding safety cone, a four-sided, free-standing floor sign that deploys automatically. Unlike traditional, two-sided safety cones, the sign stays open and remains functional even if knocked over.
Also known as Mr. Twister, the sewn product consists of two loops of flat sprung-steel wire and a screen-printed nylon cover. Vinyl-covered stainless steel is also used. For storage, the cone twists down to smaller dimensions for fitting into a protective case of blow molded high density PE. The $27 product entered the market in mid-2004.
Rubbermaid Commercial Products is a division of Sandy Springs, Ga.-based Newell Rubbermaid Inc.
Philippe Starck Network of Paris and Violight LLC of Hartsdale, N.Y., won for the $50 Violight toothbrush sanitizer, which uses ultraviolet light to kill germs.
The housing is molded of ABS. The product is made in Hong Kong.
More than 10,000 units were sold from September through February. Designers used Pro/Engineer software to create the transformer-equipped Violight system.
Ziba Design GmbH of Munich, Germany, won for the Intuos3 pen/tablet system from Wacom Europe GmbH of Krefeld, Germany.
Three sizes of plug-in tablets are available. The pen and mouse operate cordless and battery-free as computer graphic tools. Injected molded ABS forms the housings. An elastomer covers the pen, mouse and buttons. The tablet surface consists of back-painted acrylic.
The smallest tablet is 4 inches by 5 inches; the largest is 9 inches by 12 inches. Commercial distribution began in September.
Flex/Innovation Lab of Delft, the Netherlands, won for innovative packaging and graphics on the 1-2 Paint line from the decorative coatings business of Arnhem, the Netherlands-based Akzo Nobel NV.
Injection molder Dijkstra Plastics BV of Haaksbergen, the Netherlands, manufactures the line's rectangular PP container and lid. The design eliminates the need for a separate paint tray, avoids waste and minimizes cleanup. When the container is open, the lid transforms into a tray that fits the width of a standard paint roller.
PP was chosen because it can withstand vertical forces on the lid and sidewalls when the paint is shaken and stirred.
Akzo Nobel makes latex wall paints under different brands in several European countries.
Lakeside Product Development of Bothell, Wash., and Terabeam of Falls Church, Va., won for the design of Terabeam's indoor 3200i optical transceiver.
Kaso Plastics Inc. of Vancouver, Wash., injection molds the shell-style housing of ABS.
Mounted to a vertical glass window, the transceiver connects buildings across town with high-speed, high-bandwidth data transmission as an alternative to laying new fiber-optic cable under city streets.
Terabeam is the marketplace identity for YDI Wireless Inc.