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Plastics help designers bring home the gold

Roger Renstrom | PLASTICS NEWS

  Image By: Tesla Motors. Tesla Motors' Supercharger Post

Products with polymer content received multiple gold recognitions in the 2014 International Design Excellence Awards.

A power charging device, a bicycle helmet, a computer tablet, lounge chair and a humidifier were among the winners.

The Industrial Designers Society of America in Herndon, Va., organizes the annual contest.

Tad Toulis headed a 24-person panel of design experts from consultancies, corporations and universities in judging nearly 2,000 entries and naming 27 gold, 58 silver and 91 bronze IDEA winners from among the 514 finalists. Toulis is vice president of design at Sonos Inc. in Santa Barbara, Calif., a consumer electronics firm specializing in wireless audio products.

The jury's focus was to identify excellence in design innovation, benefits to user and client, sustainability and visual appeal.

Tesla Motors: Supercharger Post

Product designer Josh Ferguson of Tesla Motors Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif., won a gold IDEA in the design strategy category and a bronze IDEA in the automotive and transportation category for a power charging device.

Tesla's Supercharger Post is the point of user interface for rapidly charging a vehicle via high-voltage direct current.

Supercharging, available free to Tesla customers, enables a battery to be charged to 50 percent capacity in as little as 20 minutes. The electric car company's supercharging network has more than 86 stations available in the U.S. and 14 in Europe.

Sabic Innovative Plastics and Bayer MaterialScience supplied commodity and engineering thermoplastics for numerous applications within the product.

Fremont, Calif.-based Freetech Plastics Inc. pressure forms the outer cosmetic fascia using custom-tinted extruded sheets of Bayer Bayblend FR3030 polycarbonate/ABS blend, chosen for its high-impact resistance over a wide temperature range, and compliance with stringent European environmental directives. Complex part undercuts were achieved via cutting-edge tool articulation.

Bret Baumgarten, business development manager for Sabic in northern California, drove the development of a custom resin for the prominent logo on the Supercharger Post.

When not illuminated, the logo is a rich opaque red. When backlit at night, the logo glows a vibrant and uniform red, thanks to a custom diffuser package that Sabic engineered into its wide-temperature high-impact ultraviolet-light-stabilized Lexan-brand EXL1433T PC copolymer formulation.

Elite Plastics of Beaverton, Ore., a division of GM Nameplate of Seattle, molds the logo lens in a multi-cavity family tool. Tool design was simplified by molding each logo letter in a flat configuration as compared with their later installation along a curved surface. That development requires careful consideration of mismatched die pulls and requisite part draft. This approach minimized tooling cost while best matching the dimensional tolerance of the logo with that of the associated fascia panels.

3M Industrial Adhesives and Tapes undertook extensive testing of pressure-sensitive adhesives to determine the best formulation for permanently adhering the molded logo lenses to the painted surface of the pressure formed panels, ultimately achieving a bond stronger than the plastic itself.

Atlanta-based Quickparts services, an operation of 3D Systems Corp. of Rock Hill, S.C., provided rapid tooling and also molds numerous sub-components including the electric-vehicle plug components, dock and cable shroud using Sabic's Lexan EXL9330 PC and other enclosures and lenses using three of Sabic's Lexan PC grades.

The cable grommet is compression molded from 55 shore A silicone rubber from Shenzhen Genvan Silicone Materials Co. Ltd.

Smith Optics: Forefront bicycle helmet

Four designers won for the Smith Optics Inc. low-profile full-coverage Forefront-model bicycle helmet for mountain bike riding or racing.

A propriety adhesive is used to bond open-cell-construction panels from Koroyd SARL to Smith's expanded polystyrene helmet structure.

Koroyd co-extruded PC and a proprietary material creating a tube that Koroyd thermally welds into an engineered honeycomb core structure. Each tube has a diameter of 3.5 millimeters and a density to optimize energy absorption upon impact.

Incorporating Smith's Aerocore-brand construction and assembly method, the Koroyd design allows cool air via multiple channels to enter the helmet and hot air to escape. Smith Optics placed more vents throughout the helmet without sacrificing protection and comfort.

A VaporFit system relies on the integration of rotary-dial adjustments with a tuned elastic fit allowing a movement range of 5 centimeters and the ability to position the system at multiple attachment points for a rider's comfort.

The helmet's ventilated protection can integrate with sunglasses or goggles or with an optional mounting kit for a light such as one from Light & Motion Industries or a video camera such as one from GoPro Inc.

The goggle strap retention system is made of Hytrel thermoplastic elastomer from DuPont Co.

Nylon webbing is used in the chip strap and nylon 6/6 in the standard buckets and snap baskets.

Credits go to Drew Chilson and Mike Aaskov of Smith Optics of Ketchum, Idaho, and Piers Storey and James Rogers of Koroyd of Monte Carlo, Monaco.

The Forefront model was released in September at a price of $220.

Nokia Oyj: Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet

Creative staff in the Calabasas, Calif., design center of Nokia Oyj won for development of a computer tablet. The product was designed to compete with the iPad lineup from Apple Inc. and Surface devices from Microsoft Corp.

The Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet features a hard-coated PC unibody and a 10-diagonal-inch ClearBlack glass liquid-crystal-display screen with in-plane switching technology. The toughened display is coated in Corning Inc.'s alkali-aluminosilicate sheet known as Gorilla glass.

Other materials include polyurethane, stainless steel and cast magnesium.

Designers avoided use of materials with PVC and brominated flame retardants and excluded nickel from the product's surface.

The battery can charge to 80 percent of capacity in an hour.

The minimized packaging of renewable materials is 100 percent recyclable.

An optional Nokia Power Cover can transform the tablet into a mobile personal computer.

The Nokia 2520 in black, blue, red or yellow housings entered the market in October at prices starting from $399.

LG Electronics: Air Washer

Five designers from LG Electronics Inc. won for an Air Washer humidifier.

The humidifier has a housing of ABS for protection from external shocks, a top display of translucent acrylic and antibacterial discs of high impact PS for absorbing moisture. LG Chem Ltd. supplies the polymer materials.

The humidifier uses vaporization to evenly generate fine moisture particles. The humidification disc can kill 99.9 percent of all bacteria.

Adjustable lights on the top enable control of the unit at night.

Credits go to Saehwan Bae, Chinsoo Hyon, Jinsu Kim, Miju Kim, Jaeyong Park and Yunseo Jang at LG Electronics' corporate design center in Seoul, South Korea.

The Air Washer entered the market in late September at a price of $400.

Haworth: Windowseat

Industrial designers with the Mike & Maaike Inc. studio won for creation of Haworth Inc.'s fully upholstered Windowseat lounge chair.

Furniture manufacturer Haworth works with Grand Rapids Foam Technologies of Wyoming, Mich., in creating the Windowseat's shape. The custom polyurethane foam fabricator uses a diphenylmethane diisocyanate process in overmolding foam padding onto the Windowseat's rigid steel frame.

The chair is suitable for a public or private space and incorporates elements exploring the idea of a sub-architectural space by creating a room-within-a-room.

The powder-coated steel base swivels with a return-to-center feature.

Windowseat meets standards of the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association and the American National Standards Institute and carries the performance qualities of the Divina Mélange by Kvadrat surface collection.

Design credits go to Mike Simonian and Maaike Evers of Mike & Maaike in San Francisco.

Haworth introduced the Windowseat at the NeoCon design exposition in June 2013. The chair with canopy lists for $4,950.

FiftyThree: graphics pencil and packaging

Design and engineering firm FiftyThree Inc. won a gold IDEA for the packaging and graphics of its Pencil stylus and a silver IDEA for the product itself in the computer equipment category. The product takes the form of a traditional carpenter's pencil.

The highly advanced stylus is designed to work in harmony with the Paper application, another FiftyThree creation.

Some internal parts of the Pencil are injection molded of fire-retardant ABS from Chi Mei Corp. of Tainan City, Taiwan.

The rubber tip and eraser are molded of conductive silicone elastomer.

A tapered tip allows for a range of writing, drawing and shading angles with the Pencil's point being useful for fine details and the edge available for broad strokes.

The materials in the packaging include Mylar-brand polyester film from DuPont Co. along with raw pulp, raw cardboard and coated and non-coated papers.

Credits go to multiple FiftyThree designers. A team in Seattle designed the hardware, and a group in New York handled the software interaction aspects.

The Pencil entered the commercial market in November and is priced $74.95 for the milled sustainable-hardwood walnut version and $59.95 for the milled graphite-brushed aluminum model.

FiftyThree and two other firms won a gold IDEA in digital design for the Book. A system can transform a sketch made in an iPad Paper application into customized books from Moleskine SpA of Milan, Italy, or Milk Tailor Made Books Ltd. of Parnell, New Zealand.

Brooks England: Cambium saddle

Designers from the IDEO consultancy and Brooks England Ltd. won for a bicycle road-racing saddle.

The entry was entitled, "The Brooks C17 Cambium Saddle: Reinventing the Racing Saddle."

The saddle is made of vulcanized natural rubber and woven organic cotton canvas along with a thin layer of structural textile for resilience and longevity. Brooks applies a treatment of Numac to the cotton to make the top waterproof and protect against other elements.

With tubular stainless steel rails on a die cast aluminum frame, the construction works like a hammock, absorbs vibration and shock and, with the flexible top, follow a rider's movements. The performance is usually found only with natural leather saddles.

Credits go to the Palo Alto, Calif., office of IDEO and Brooks England of Smethwick, England, a business of Selle Royal SpA of Pozzoleone, Italy.

The Brooks C17 carries a list price of $170.

Square: Square Stand

Designers for Square Inc. and Ammunition LLC won for the Square Stand communication tool, which can transform an iPad tablet computer into a point-of-sale device.

The exterior housing of the Square Stand is an injection molded plastic. The internal skeleton has aluminum and zinc content, and steel fasteners hold the product together.

A user can plug hardware devices such as receipt printers, cash drawers and barcode scanners into Square Stand via a universal-serial-bus accessories hub.

The Square Stand accepts all major credit cards and provides the tools businesses need to run daily operations. Software is free to download.

Credits go to Troy Edwards of Square and Robert Brunner, Timothy Tan, Jonas Lagerstedt and Howard Nuk of Ammunition. Both design firms are based in San Francisco.

The Square Stand was introduced online and through retailers in May 2013 at a price of $99.

Square Inc. also won a bronze 2014 IDEA for its Reader with a custom magnetic read head and spring.

ROLF-Roland Wolf: eyeglass frame

Four designers at ROLF-Roland Wolf GmbH in Tirol, Austria, won for the handmade, lightweight Marlin 06 eyeglass frames made of wood.

A newly created screw-free hinge has nylon filament going through drilled holes. An integrated mechanism prevents the hinge from closing on its own and holds the hinge in a stable position, whether open or closed.

Designers of the ROLF Spectacles use nylon filament as a component of a patented glazing system that allows for the lenses to be positioned without having to cut through the frame. Technicians use a specially converted machine of recycled parts to process the nylon filament and achieve the desired thickness. Opticians use the finished ready-to-use nylon filament in glazing of the frames.

Credits go to Roland Wolf, Marija Iljazovic, Christian Wolf and Martin Iljazovic.

The Marlin 06 frames entered the market in January at a price of $980.

PillPack: service design

Six designers for the IDEO consultancy and full-service online pharmacy PillPack Inc. won for the service design of a product that can simplify life for people with multiple medications.

On two-week cycles, a customer receives a personalized roll of presorted, labeled medications in plastic-film packets. A recyclable dispenser is made of an injection molded plastic. Other items may include liquids and inhalers.

The PillPack staff members coordinate refills and guarantee on-time shipments in paper and cardboard packaging.

The pharmacy's operations use robotic medication dispensing machines and visual inspection machines for quality control.

Credits go to Jennifer Sarich-Harvey, Sophy Lee, Katherine Londergan and Gen Suzuki of the IDEO office in Boston and T.J. Parker and Elliot Cohen of PillPack in Manchester, N.H.

PillPack opened the pharmacy initially in August and, after tweaking the website, began online commercial transactions in February. PillPack applies a standard 30-day copay provision.

Avon Protection: breathing apparatus

Designers for Avon Protection Systems Inc. and Formation Design Group Inc. won for a research project on improvement of self-contained breathing apparatus used by firefighters.

Multiple polymer materials are used in Avon's Deltair respiratory protection product.

The research team used a co-design approach to work with veteran firefighters across the United States. Participants represented different regions, climates and population densities.

Designers aimed to balance firefighter preferences for ruggedized and reliable equipment with current National Fire Protection Association standards to create the ideal SCBA for use in a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear environment.

Credits go to Clint Mayhue, Mark Williamson, Barry Reece, Dave Haverty, John Baker, Craig Martin, James Wilcox, Jose Cruz and Doug Olsen with the Lawrenceville, Ga., facility of Avon Protection Systems Inc. and Philip Palermo and Russell Kroll of Formation Design Group of Atlanta.

Avon Protection Systems is a unit of Avon Rubber plc of Melksham, England.

Yakima Products: kayak carrier

Four designers from Yakima Products Inc. won for the Whispbar WB400 kayak carrier.

The collapsible J-cradle-style carrier is made primarily with aluminum and nylon. Metallic finishes identify key interaction points. Soft elastomeric padding is used for areas that support the kayak.

The rigid black polymers in the holder's components are injection molded nylon type 6/6 with glass filling ranging from 15 to 35 percent.

Gray hold-down straps are unfilled nylon.

Designed with a new buckle, the product was developed for the secure transport of kayaks. Whispbar's tool-free QuickDock technology enables fast installation and use of extendable boat-loading arms.

Credits go to Jason Sagen, Chris Sautter, Mark Elliott and Gian-Marco D'Angelo of Yakima Products in Beaverton, Ore.

After extensive development, the WB400 entered the market in June at a price of $299.

The same Yakima designers also won a bronze IDEA for the Whispbar WB200 fork-mount bicycle carrier.

Cretoy: accordian playhouse

A designer for Cretoy Co. Ltd. won for creation of a hand-made playhouse that incorporates the traditional paper-folding principles of the art of origami.

For changes in form and size, the folding body shrinks and stretches like an accordion with that name being applied to the product.

The space-saving Accordion Play House has PET components, polypropylene fluted boards, non-woven felt and, for hook-and-loop fasteners, Velcro fabric.

Over two years, Cretoy developed the product and a related production system for the folding house. A patent application is pending.

Credit goes to Kim Hyun-Gon of Cretoy in Seoul, South Korea.

Cretoy, a compound of the words creative and toy, began selling the Accordion Play House in April 2013 and seeks services of a manufacturer for possible mass production.

Nonobject: wireless speaker system

Two designers with the Nonobject studio won for a durable water-resistant speaker system for Logitech Inc. of Fremont, Calif.

Logitech's Ultimate Ears-brand Boom wireless Bluetooth speaker system has a housing of the commodity thermoplastic ABS; a colorful plasma-coated acoustic skin of a synthetic fabric from Schoeller Textil AB of Sevelen, Switzerland; and an elastomeric strap of cross-linked silicone thermoplastic vulcanizate from Dow Corning Corp.

Promoters say the feature-loaded UE Boom is "made to help you rage, riot, party and play the music you love."

The social music player is a 360 degree portable wireless speaker with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can play for 15 hours. A user can connect to the Boom from distances up to 50 feet and can link to near-field-communication devices with a simple tap.

Credits go to Branko Lukic and Steve Takayama of the Nonobject product design branding studio in Palo Alto, Calif.

The UE Boom entered the consumer market in May 2013 and sells for $199.99.

Publicly traded parent firm Logitech International SA is registered in Laysanne, Switzerland. The bulk of Logitech manufacturing operations occur in Suzhou, China.

Student designs

Four student designs won gold IDEAs:

Art Center College of Design: heated shower system

Five students at the Art Center College of Design of Pasadena, Calif., won for a water heater and pressurized shower system that was created in conjunction with three Bogota, Colombia, partner organizations.

The Safe Agua Colombia: Calientamigos water heating system consists of three modular components and can work with any household container to heat and pressurize water for bathing, cooking and cleaning. Students say the system is more affordable and accessible than installing a gravity-fed water system.

A portable electric Bomba water heater of ABS can heat five gallons of water to 110 degrees Fahrenheit in 15 minutes. For pressurizing the warm water, a simple Corazon foot pump of ABS has two nylon barbed hose fittings that connect to a 0.75-inch vinyl tubing. A multipurpose Gota faucet head is made of ABS and also connects to the vinyl tubing. Clamps ensure that the tubing remains attached to the fittings even during vigorous foot pumping.

In creating prototypes, the students used standard ABS filament from Stratasys Ltd. and worked with three-dimensional additive fused-deposition-modeling printers at the Art Center College of Design.

Students tested their materials' ability to withstand the amount of heat without melting or warping. A test piece was printed, affixed to the heating element and left it on for several hours. After determining the relative tolerance, prototypes were printed.

Students Kevin Chang, Tianyi Sun, and Della Tosin created the Calientamigos system. Shingo Mamiya and Kristina Jesena assisted with initial development of the foot pump.

The partner organizations are Un Techo para mi Pais, its social entrepreneur division Techno and the multi-enterprise nonprofit Compartamos con Colombia.

Sangmyong University: 'Like Stars on Earth'

Two undergraduate students at private coeducational Sangmyung University won for a mock-up of lighting for tent camping and other outdoor activities.

The entry was named "Like Stars on Earth," and incorporates plastic resins, a light-emitting-diode lamp, luminous glow-in-the-dark buttons and a strong magnet for attaching the lamp to surfaces such as a tent's fabric. The lamp has multiple LEDs and an outer shell that enhances the light to help users find their way.

Numerically controlled machining and laser cutting were used in creating models.

Credits go to Yu Yunjo and Kim Seunghyun at the private Sangmyung University in Cheonan in South Korea's South Chungcheong province.

Umeå Institute of Design: infant breathing apparatus

Two graduate students at Umeå Institute of Design won for a concept to help the breathing of a premature baby with inadequately developed lungs.

The easy-to-apply respiratory support device, known as Trompe, provides mild air pressure to keep the baby's airways open and prevent them from collapsing or becoming blocked. The device is designed to eliminate the need to put pressure on the infant's face.

The students built the final model in the institute's faculty workshop using three-dimensional additive printing techniques.

As conceptualized for possible production, the Trompe would have ABS for parts such as the valve needing precision and strength and PP tubing for differing wall thicknesses and flexibility. Silicone is projected as the material for the shoulder patch and mask and polyester for the fabrics.

Credits go to Maxime Dubreucq of Lorgies, France, and Robert Provó Kluit of Umeå, Sweden, where the institute is located. Both recently completed work toward master of fine arts degrees in advanced product design.

Cheong-ju University: L-burner

A student at Cheong-ju University won for an L-burner concept.

The portable gas burner has a slim cylindrical shape and a central L-joint. The gas storage container is positioned within a metal pipe on one side of the joint, and the coated-steel burner is on the other side.

Thermosetting plastic is proposed for use in the closing portion of the cylinder and the ignition-level control manipulator. A synthetic rubber material coats the ignition wire.

Bent steel creates the cylindrical appearance, and the polymer cap connects with steel finishing or control parts.

The L-shape offers structural stability during use. The design sufficiently separates the ignition ball and gas container to prevent the risk of explosion from overheating.

Credit goes to Yoon Taesik, a student in the department of industrial design at the private Cheong-ju University in Cheong-ju City, South Korea. Professor Dong-ha Kim played a key role in advising on the project.

IDSA will present the 2014 IDEAs in an Aug. 13 ceremony during the society's international conference in Austin, Texas. At that event, IDSA will disclose the best-in-show, curator's choice, people's choice and sustainability award winners. The society started the IDEA program in 1980.

Sponsors and media partners for the 2014 IDEAs are Plastics News, Core77 Inc. of New York, Avalon Media LLC's Curve magazine of New York, Alarm Press's Design Bureau magazine of Chicago, New York-based Mansueto Ventures LLC's Fast Company magazine, the Henry Ford cultural destination in Dearborn, Mich., San Francisco-based Whitehawk Ventures Inc.'s TouchOfModern sales site and multi-national web publisher Yanko Design.

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