An electric-powered roadster, a high-performance safety harness and a Best of Show student-designed exercise machine concept each used plastics in winning 2007 International Design Excellence Awards.
Plastics figured into the designs of numerous gold award winners in the annual contest, sponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America in Dulles, Va., and BusinessWeek magazine.
Ruth Soenius headed the panel of 18 designers and critics who reviewed 1,691 entries from 30 countries to select the award winners - 20 gold, 19 silver and 42 bronze. Soenius is director of user experience for Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton, N.J., an operation of Siemens AG's U.S. corporation.
Here are plastics-oriented highlights of the gold award winners:
Lotus Design Studio, Tesla Motors Inc. and, as an independent design counsel, Bill Moggridge won for the high-performance Tesla Roadster sports car, which entered the market in July 2006 with a base retail price of $92,000.
San Carlos, Calif.-based Tesla said the electric-powered vehicle has an estimated range of 250 miles on a single charge, a four-second-acceleration time for zero to 60 miles per hour and a top speed of 130 mph. The energy-storage system has 6,831 lithium-ion cells, each the size of a double-A battery.
London-based Ex-Press Plastics Ltd. uses resin transfer molding to manufacture external carbon-fiber-reinforced body panels including the hood, rear deck lid, roof, fenders and doors. The polymer-matrix-composite panels are mounted over a chassis of bonded aluminum.
Carr Reinforcements Ltd. of Stockport, England, supplies the carbon-fiber cloth, and Flemings Textiles Ltd. of Kilmarnock, Scotland, provides the glass-reinforced polypropylene fabric.
Polytec Holden Ltd. of Bromyard, England, a unit of Polytec Holdings AG, manufactures the bumpers and spoilers. The bumper beam consists of polyurethane foam over a carbon-fiber armature with a reinforced reaction injection molded PU fascia. Polytec blow molds the spoiler of ABS.
Belco Avia SNC of San Pietro, Italy, produces the prepreg center control using an exposed carbon-weave fabric and cures the part in an autoclave.
Hawkeye Industries Inc. of Marietta, Ga., supplies a Dura Technologies Inc. Duratec-brand polyester primer that is sprayed inside the tool's A-surface prior to layup. The primer adheres to the resin in a comolding process, results in a paint-ready exterior surface and avoids a post-mold finishing step.
Units of Group Lotus plc in Hethel, England, play key roles. Lotus Design's principal designer, Barney Hatt, with Russell Carr styled the composite body, and the Lotus Cars unit assembles and paints the Tesla Roadster.
The creative team for Tesla Motors included Elon Musk, Martin Eberhard, Malcolm Smith and Barrie Dickinson.
Seattle-based product designer General Assembly and Guardian Fall Protection received a gold award for Guardian Fall's Premium Edge safety harness and tool-belt system. Torso-sized products in the high-performance line protect workers in the high-altitude construction and roofing industry.
The products, which sell for $230-$430 and came on the market in 2006, use the abrasionproof materials Hypalon and Cordura.
Hypalon nylon from Reeves Bros. Inc. in Spartanburg, S.C., forms the upper-body shell. The material is waterproof and ultraviolet-light resistant.
The back area of the harness is made of Cordura fabric, a brand of Invista of Wichita, Kan.
A high-grade tensile mesh forms the inside lining, and an interior closed-cell foam wicks away moisture from the user's body.
General Assembly's Jared Randall and Josh Kornfeld designed the product. Kornfeld owns General Assembly, which was known prior to March 15 as JMK Industrial Design.
Synapse Product Development of Seattle advised on some mechanical engineering aspects of the harness.
GF Protection Inc. of Kent, Wash., does business as Guardian Fall Protection.
Ryan Eder, then a University of Cincinnati senior, won a gold award and the 2007 IDEA competition Best in Show - the first time a student design has won that designation.
Eder created the Access design concept of an advanced, multiple-feature exercise machine suitable for both physically disabled and able-bodied users.
As designed, a thermoformed sheet of smoked acrylic would cover the sleek machine's internal mechanisms while allowing users to see the movement of two weight stacks. Structural elements would be made of powder-coated steel. The machine would weigh 1,400 pounds and cost $5,500.
In order to personally understand problems with existing exercise equipment, Eder rented and used a wheelchair, participated in a wheelchair football league and volunteered at wheelchair competitions.
Eder is an industrial designer employed with Priority Designs Inc., based in Gahanna, Ohio.
He joined the company after graduating from the university in June 2006.
Design and brand-creation firm Arnell Group LLC of New York won for the HomeHero fire extinguisher under a joint venture with Home Depot Inc. called Orange Works. The $25 extinguisher was launched in February.
The extinguisher has an external shroud of a polycarbonate/ABS blend; an ergonomic grip and trigger surfaces of overmolded thermoplastic elastomer; and functional subassembly components of PP, stainless steel and aluminum. The product is available in an array of colors and finishes with an aim of having homeowners keep the extinguisher in view and easily accessible.
Arnell Group created the extinguisher for exclusive distribution through outlets of Atlanta-based Home Depot.
In November, Home Depot and Arnell Group created Orange Works as an innovation and design venture stemming from an idea of Peter Arnell, the group's founder, chairman and chief creative officer. Arnell Group is an advertising and communications subsidiary of Omnicron Group Inc.
A team at peterhaythorn thwaite//creativelab in Hobsonville, New Zealand, won for the design of a light-operated mouse and keyboard that enables people with physical impairments to operate a computer.
The client is Auckland, New Zealand-based Light Keyboard Ltd., previously operating as Lomak International Ltd. Lomak is an acronym for the product line.
One version is a hand-held pointer system for people with arm-movement and grip limitations.
The other version - a head-mounted system - has a motion-sensitive laser pointer and a keyboard positioned at a 70-degree angle with a laptop in an adjustable stand.
Each version costs $1,495; a full demonstration system incorporating both costs $1,895.
Jundian Plastics Co. Ltd. in Xiamen, China, injection molded the main body, keypad rest, clamp handles, separate hand-held and head-mounted laser bodies, and the head pointer star clamp. The parts are made of ABS on Haitian equipment with robotic arms. PC is used for the hand pointer head, PP for the head unit's headband and cable adjustor, and TPE ethylene vinyl acetate for the headband ear rest, headband cover, keypad, stand feet and keypad grip.
The design team of Peter Haythornthwaite; his sons Andrew and David; and Dean Edgington conducted extensive user research, modeled the products and supervised tooling production at a shop in Xiamen.
Truetest Industries Ltd. of Auckland assembles the product, which entered the market in May 2005.
Chef'n Corp. of Seattle won for its PalmPeeler, a $5 vegetable peeler that slips onto a user's finger and is gripped intuitively in the entire palm. David Holcomb, Chef'n chief executive officer, and Jason Germany, senior industrial designer, created the product, which mimics the cupping of a palm.
On behalf of Chef'n, Kool Ltd. of Shenzhen, China, manufactures the PalmPeeler primarily using a 198-ton Yan Hing Engineering Works Ltd. SuperPower machine to injection mold the main body of PP and overmolding with an 80 Shore A hardness TPE. A 33-ton press stamps the stainless-steel blade.
Chef'n introduced the PalmPeeler in October 2005 and distributes the product globally.
Daka Development Ltd. of Hong Kong won for the plastics-rich One Touch can opener, touted as the world's first cordless, hands-free can opener. The device walks around the can, stops automatically and, with a magnet, removes the lid.
In developing an affordable mass-consumer product, designers specified ABS for the sculptural-shaped housing, acetal for internal parts with low-friction requirements, reinforced nylon for components requiring structural strength and TPE for other parts. No special processes were required, so plans for multicavity tooling and machine use focused on production efficiency. Several functions are integrated into each component so the overall part count was kept low.
The parts are injection molded at one site on presses with 44-154 tons of clamping force.
The $20 product entered the market in April 2006. Its success has led to further development of household appliances.
The creative team included Pat Y. Mah, Daka executive chairman, and Mark Sanders, director of MAS Design Products Ltd. of Windsor, England. Daka Development is a unit of Daka Investment International Ltd.
Chicago-based Insight Product Development LLC won for the design concept of an alternative to a traditional grass lawn. The design of the modular Verdi landscaping alternative has path-tile inserts of recycled glass composites, molded recycled plastic or bamboo. An integrated, pump-driven water-collection system would store rainwater or household gray water to facilitate plant growth with little maintenance.
The pre-seeded, interlocking tiles would avoid the need for mowers. Printed with soy inks, a nutritive, dissolvable film would seal the top of each tile and protect the contents during transportation. A central solar-cell array could power the illuminated perimeter of light tiles.