Alow-cost laptop, a featherlike welding helmet and a customized baby bottle used plastics in winning 2008 International Design Excellence Awards.
Components in plastic appeared in about two dozen of the gold winners in the annual contest, co-sponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America in Dulles, Va., and BusinessWeek magazine.
Alistair Hamilton headed a panel of 20 designers and evaluators who judged 1,517 entries from 33 countries to select the award winners 35 gold, 77 silver and 93 bronze. Recently, Hamilton joined Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Wash., as creative director of its mobile communications business.
Here are plastics-related highlights of the gold award winners:
* San Francisco-based design firm fuseproject won twice: in the computer hardware category for the One Laptop Per Child XO laptop, and in the design strategy category for the same product. Fuseproject shared the computer hardware gold with nonprofit association One Laptop Per Child Association Inc. of Cambridge, Mass. Faculty members in the media laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge created OLPC in 2005 to develop an inexpensive educational device for use in developing countries.
Contract manufacturer Quanta Computer Inc. of Tao Yuan Shien, Taiwan, began full-scale OLPC production in November 2007. That includes injection molding polycarbonate and a PC/ABS blend for the housing, co-molding PC/ABS and a thermoplastic elastomer to form the adjustable antennas, and using silicon rubber for the feet. OLPC places the laptop's market value at $199.
* Ergonomidesign AB of Bromma, Sweden, won for the Speedglas SL super-light-weight welding helmet and auto-darkening filter. Injection molded components include a shield of polyphthalamide from Mouldex AB of Halmstad, Sweden; a headband of nylon 6/6 from Ã revall Plast AB of VÃ¤rnamo, Sweden; and outer protection of PC from Taroko International Co. Ltd. of Tainan, Taiwan. The filter is a laminate of seven layers, including an ultraviolet/infrared filter, three polarizers and three liquid-crystal elements.
The Speedglas SL, at 12.95 ounces, is considered to be the lightest welding helmet, simultaneously offering increased comfort and decreased injury risk to users. The $322 helmet entered commercial production in May 2007.
* Whipsaw Inc. of San Jose, Calif., won a gold medal for designing the 8-ounce Natural Nurser baby bottle from Adiri Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif. On Adiri's behalf, manufacturing representative Control Plastics Inc. of South San Francisco, Calif., arranged for customized material compounding at American Commodities Inc. of Flint, Mich., and plastics processing and assembly through a Control partner, Pyramid Technology Corp. of Taipei, Taiwan. ACI worked through several dozen compounds en route to finding a suitably strong yet soft material styrene ethylene butylene styrene block copolymer with 30 Shore A durometer for the outside surface of the wide-mouth bottle. The resin performance is comparable to material with a 50 Shore A durometer.
Pyramid tried more than 30 types of polypropylene before finding a PP random copolymer with acceptable clarity and refrigerated-drop-impact characteristics. In a two-shot process, SEBS is injection molded over an inner PP substrate that comes in one of three colors. The white, blue or orange versions indicate age-appropriate flow rates for a baby up to three months, three to six months or more than six months, respectively.
An integrated silicone valve-diaphragm vent system inside the bottom-opening screw-on PP cap allows air to flow slowly into the bottle as the baby drinks. The translucent top protective cover is molded from PP. The SEBS nipple is injection molded, and a post-molding laser operation drills holes. Adiri began marketing the $12-$13 bottle in June 2007.
* SylvanSport LLC of Cedar Mountain, N.C., won for its three-in-one towable Go mobile adventure gear camper. Almost any vehicle can tow the Go. Uses include hauling up to 800 pounds of gear, top-mount bicycle or kayak racking systems and a camping configuration with a weatherproof polyester tent. The Go can accommodate all-terrain vehicles or motorcycles.
Wilbert Inc.'s plastic services operation in Harrisburg, N.C., thermoforms sheets of coextruded ABS for the upper and lower pod shells. The top shell has a metallic Solarkote-brand acrylic cap for durability, ultraviolet protection and appearance, and the lower pod has a 3-millimeter-thick low-gloss Korad-brand cap layer. Regrind accounts for 40 percent of the volume in each recyclable sheet.
Dutchland Plastics Corp. of Oostburg, Wis., rotationally molds two fenders, a storage box, lid and tailgate step of linear low density PE. Caro-Polymers Inc. of Bessemer City, N.C., injection molds top caps, side marker lamp bezels, rear bumpers and lower rear bumpers of a Sarlink-brand TPE.
Extruded aluminum forms the structural components. SylvanSport introduced the $7,950 Go in February.
* Propeller Design of Stockholm, Sweden, won for designing the S8 Total Station for a Trimble Navigation Ltd. unit that manufactures the product in Danderyd, Sweden.
The robotic laser instrument incorporates optical technology, frictionless servo motion and a smart tracking sensor for land surveying, and specialized engineering applications such as monitoring and tunneling.
Plastema AB of SÃ¶derkÃ¶ping, Sweden, and Hong Kong-based Tontec International Ltd. injection molded the plastic parts including 20 percent glass-fiber-reinforced PC for the side covers and 50 percent glass-sphere-reinforced nylon 12 for knobs and snaps. Two-shot molding with 20 percent glass-fiber-reinforced PC and thermoplastic PU create details on cast-aluminum structural parts and a soft-touch coating on the handle. The platform entered the market in February 2007 and costs $12,000-$35,000. Propeller Design is a unit of Design Communication AB.
* Ralph Appelbaum Associates of New York received a gold medal for its exhibit design at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo.
Taylor Studios Inc. of Rantoul, Ill., used structural polystyrene for the exhibit's foundation and basic look and concrete for durability on the fabricated trench dioramas. Explus Inc. of Dulles, Va., was responsible for large display-case graphics on a polymer fabric and laser-imaged graphics on which a plastic overlaminate was applied for protection. Sanders Museum Services of Shepherdstown, W.Va., sculpted chemically neutral Ethafoam-brand polyethylene for artifact mounts supporting delicate fabric uniforms, helmets and other objects. System Huntingdon Inc. of Huntingdon, Quebec, used phenolic resin and its proprietary Folia digital laminate technology in fabricating theme panel graphics including the chronology and gun rails. Exhibits Associates Inc. of North Kansas City, Mo., used Corian cast acrylic in fabricating the image-projection surface for the interactive tables.
The state-of-the-art 30,000-square-foot museum opened in December 2002 and symbolically separates displays for the war before and after the 1917 involvement of the United States.
* Product development firm Brooks Stevens Inc. of Allenton, Wis., and inventor-contractor Craig Bronkhorst's Long View Enterprises LLC of Brandon, Wis., won a gold medal for the RidgeRunner construction brace. Using the mostly aluminum device as a platform, a worker can align and brace a wooden roof truss efficiently and safely, and continue, truss by truss, to complete the job.
MDI Products LLC of Sebastian, Fla., injection molds the closed-cell foam kneepads of self-skinning crosslinked PolyCell-brand polyolefin. Gamm Srl of Montecchio Maggiore, Italy, manufactures the RidgeRunner's tubular grip handle, which has molded end caps of glass-fiber-reinforced nylon and tubing of aluminum. Rolair Systems of Hustisford, Wis., began distributing the $899-per-pair product in February.
* Product studio Tools Design of Copenhagen, Denmark, won for the design of the Eva Solo waste bin line for Eva Denmark AS of MÃ¥lÃ¸v, Denmark. The mostly flat lid is formed of ABS and stainless steel, functions independently without hinges or other mechanics.
The conical-shaped bin is made of stainless steel. The top of the liner folds around a rubber-coated metal ring. Eva Denmark introduced the line in September 2006 and sells the bin through retailers or Web sites in three bathroom, office and kitchen sizes. Suggested pricing is in the range of $300-$580.
* The Tokyo creative center of Sony Corp. won for a digital portable reader system that can accommodate about 160 volumes of eBook data.
Chrome-plated plastic parts enclose the tube at the top and bottom. The unit includes embedded indicators that cannot be scratched off. The technique reduced printing costs. Coated plastic forms small buttons on the reader. Extruded aluminum forms the tubular encasement of the monocoque body. The PRS-505 model entered the market in October 2007 with pricing at $300.
* Senz Umbrellas BV of Delft, the Netherlands, won for its XL storm umbrella, the latest and largest in a line using an aerodynamic asymmetrical design that avoids the tendency in a strong wind for the protective equipment to go inside out.
Polymer components include an ABS handle, a nylon runner and notch, and umbrella fabric consisting of a mixture of polyester and pongee. It is manufactured in China. The XL umbrella was introduced in late 2007. Senz distributes the XL in the United States through totes/Isotoner Corp. of Cincinnati at a suggested retail price of $65.
* IDEO of Palo Alto, Shimano American Corp. of Irvine, Calif., and three bicycle manufacturers won for a line of Shimano components and related recreational bicycles. The participating bike makers include Trek Bicycle Corp. of Waterloo, Wis.; Giant Bicycle Inc. of Newbury Park, Calif.; and Raleigh America Inc. of Kent, Wash.
Plastic components in the Coasting line include rounded chrome-simulated hubcaps and the computer box. Trek uses a colorful elastomer accent on the Lime model and other plastic materials on the trunk seat. The seat on the Giant model has an integrated red-blinking safety light with a plastic cover. In most cases, the manufacturers use plastics in their pedal, seat and grip components. The integrated strategy to engage noncyclists in casual biking was launched in early 2007 and involves bicycles retailing for $450-$800.
* The design center of New Bremen, Ohio-based Crown Equipment Corp. and Design Central Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, won a gold medal for the design of Crown's RC 5500 Series rider counterbalance lift truck.
At a plant in New Knoxville, Ohio, Crown uses Hival-brand ABS to mold three top display covers and the control handle for the RC 5500. Durable Products Inc. of Crossville, Tenn., uses styrene-butadiene rubber for three desktop covers and the kneepad. R&R Technologies LLC of Edinburg, Ind., uses polyurethane foam in molding the armrest, back pad and floorboard pad. Crown introduced the RC 5500 in March 2007 with pricing of $24,870-$32,770.
* Pablo Pardo of the San Francisco design firm Pablo won a gold medal for the Brazo light-emitting-diode task light. Haworth Inc. of Holland, Mich., a creator of office furniture and adaptable workspaces, contributed to the development and, through its contract office sector, exclusively distributes the $400 high-performance light, which entered the market in August 2007.
Focus control enables the light source to point at a work surface without spilling illumination on the face of a nearby computer monitor. A molder in Shanghai, China, uses PC in molding tiny internal parts that serve as electrical-current insulators and bearing surfaces. Machined aluminum and cast Pyrex glass are the primary materials, along with steel for the smoothly adjustable telescoping antennas.
* Native Design Ltd. of London and Bowers & Wilkins of Worthing, England, won for the design of the integrated Zeppelin iPod speaker docking system. Bowers & Wilkins, an audio speaker maker, is a unit of B&W Group Ltd.
Injection molded polymers and a pressed stainless-steel back form the main body, which serves as a rigid platform for the high-performance loudspeakers. Soft fabric covers the front grille. The system costs $600 and entered the market in September 2007.
* Palo Alto-based frog design won for its concept of a light bulb made of unbreakable plastic with solid-state components and an absence of mercury.
The proposal uses a high-output light-emitting diode for the illumination. It has similar dimensions to a standard incandescent light.
* Herbst LaZar Bell Inc. of Chicago won for design language relating to specialized orthopedic instruments for Smith & Nephew plc of London. Surgeons and nurses use the instruments to make precise bone cuts and take measurements in implanting artificial knees and hips. Silicone overmolds on the handles improve a practitioner's ability to grip each instrument. Stainless steel is the primary material. The HLB design project was completed in early 2007.
* The Shanghai, China, design center of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. won for the conceptual design of a Touch Sight digital camera for visually impaired individuals. The design addresses issues about balancing the camera, pointing it in the desired direction and reviewing images.
Designers propose using recyclable Pellethane-brand thermoplastic PU elastomers for the main housing, primarily for its resistance to fluids, dirt and abrasion and providing soft-touch comfort while the material comes in contact with a user's forehead. A flexible Braille display can display three-dimensional images. The target price: $200.
* Smart Design of New York and Pure Digital Technologies Inc. of San Francisco won for PDT's $149 hand-held Flip Video Ultra Series camcorder, which entered the commercial market in September.
Molded plastics and aluminum are used in manufacturing the simplified camera. Designers used stereolithography equipment and fused-deposition-modeling technology in creating prototypes.
* Four young designers won gold for their concept of a Balance Sport Wheelchair with a hands-free braking system and turning capability that allow an athlete to maintain control without using hands. For basketball, the player's hands remain available for dribbling, shooting or passing.
Credits go to Eric Larson of Chicago; Ricky Biddle of Glenview, Ill.; Ben Shao of Stephensville, Mich.; and Austin Cliff of De Kalb, Ill.
The concept began as a 2003 academic project during their days as students at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and led to an early prototype in 2006.
Proposed production components include carbon-fiber-reinforced seat and back supports and wheels, rollerblade-style PU wheels, a titanium frame and aluminum hubs, biaxial hinges with internal bearings and caster brackets.
Students get the gold
* Marko Pavlovic of the University of Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia, won for the design of the three-dimensional Oblo didactic puzzle, which youngsters tested at various times. The target market: preschool children capable of developing fine motor skills. To progress to higher levels, a user must find the correct position for each spherical piece so it can be removed. Colors differentiate between layer diameters. A fused deposition modeling system from Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Stratasys Inc. used ABS in making the prototype model. However, Pavlovic recommends the use of PU-based foam to achieve solidity, a smooth surface and an easy grasp in any mass production. He completed the design in February 2007 as part of his first-year studies.
* Andrew Stordy and Katie Taylor won for a creative netting project to fight malaria. Each received a master's degree in industrial design engineering from the Royal College of Art in London on July 3. The project is named Linda, which in Swahili means ``to guard or protect.'' Linda attracts mosquitoes with carbon dioxide and human foot odor and kills the insects when they touch an insecticide-impregnated PE netting. The project added 3-millimeter-diameter cotton spacers between the layers of traditional mosquito netting to keep the malaria-carrying insects from biting through and touching the skin of a sleeping person. Linda was projected as a product-line extension for a textile mill and bed-net manufacturing plant in Arusha, Tanzania. The preliminary target price is $30.
* Craig Mackiewicz, a 2008 graduate of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, won for his conceptual design of a transportable emergency dwelling, a housing unit built within a 40-foot-long shipping container and with space to accommodate two families. The TED project specifies a Cornell University-researched polymer of atmospheric carbon-dioxide gas and orange- peel extract instead of PVC for plumbing and furniture components. The design calls for lumber and sheet of a plastic-wood composite for use in constructing walls, floors and utility channels for each unit's kitchen, bath, storage, sleeping quarters and living space. The container's slanted roof can divert rainwater into a 350-gallon tank within each unit. Rooftop solar panels would provide electricity.
* Jong Heui Lee, In Su Wang and Young Don Lee won for a conceptual project, the FlyingStick, which has PC body and wings along with a digital camera lens and a gyroscope-controlled charge-coupled device. Each winner collaborates as a member of the Nilfish design team in Seoul, South Korea. Users grasp the FlyingStick between their palms, rub the hands and spin the device into the sky. The camera, which is positioned at the bottom of the stick, takes seven continuous photographs from launch to landing. The FlyingStick camera may capture a person's natural expression since no one knows at what moment the shutter will be released. Work on the project was completed in November, and a price of $59 is projected.
* Sungwoo Park of Kookmin University in Seoul and the Samsung design membership group in South Korea won for the conceptual Voice Stick, a portable text scanning device for the visually impaired. Plastics would be the principal material if Voice Stick enters mass production. A Voice Stick scans printed letters, the embedded optical character recognition converts the written information into a voice. The concept was completed in January.
The 2008 IDEA jurors identified 389 finalists, up from 81 last year, and gave awards to 107 non-U.S. entries, up from 30 in 2007. Within the regular IDEA contest, jurors honored 12 entries from the separately conducted IDEA/Brazil competition, selecting five for silver awards and seven for bronze awards.
Attendees at IDSA's Sept. 10-13 conference in Phoenix will have an opportunity to choose from all IDEA winners for a People's Choice award. A formal ceremony honoring the winners occurs Sept. 13.