February 5, 2013 12:22 am

Dyson launches high-tech dryers

Sir James Dyson, the UK-based design and engineering entrepreneur, has launched a family of hand dryers using the latest digital motors, including the Dyson Airblade Tap.

“It is the first automatic tap in the world that will wash and dry your hands and won’t leave a trail of drips on the floor,” said Sir James.

He claims his device uses a fifth of the electrical power of traditional warm-air hand dryers and can dry 15 pairs of hands for the price of a single paper towel.

The Airblade Tap uses a 1,400-watt digital motor, which was developed by a team of 125 engineers over four years at a cost of $30m. The device is smaller and more efficient than its rivals and will cost $1,999.

“Using complex computer modelling, Dyson engineers have developed a high- performance digital motor.

The Dyson digital motor self-adjusts 6,000 times a second to maintain optimum efficiency to create a high-velocity sheet of air that dries hands quickly and hygienically,” Sir James said.

The motor, which is controlled by advanced software, uses magnets encased in a carbon fibre sleeve and digital pulse technology to accelerate from zero to 92,000 revolutions per minute in less than 0.7 seconds.

For comparison, a jet engine spins at 50,000 rpm and a Ferrari sports car engine reaches 19,000 rpm. The motors also contain six Dyson-designed Helmholtz silencers.

The company is also introducing from May smaller and lighter versions of its wall-mounted Air­blade hand dryers.

Dyson’s original Airblade dryer has been installed in 350,000 locations worldwide. The broadened range of Airblade hand dryers is the culmination of several years of work from Dyson’s team of engineers based at the company’s British headquarters.

In 2010, Sir James launched a programme to double the number of engineers at the company’s research and development facilities in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, from 350 to 700.

The new Airblade dryers are the first products to stem from that expansion, and will launch in 37 markets including the EU, Australia and the US.

The group, whose sole shareholder is Sir James, passed the £1bn-a-year sales mark in 2011 and sells more than 85 per cent of its machines outside the UK, up from less than a third in 2005 – a change that it attributes to its increasing investment in R&D. The company spent £1.3m a week on R&D in 2011, and has pledged to expand that investment by 20 per cent a year over the next five years.

Dyson digital motors are built in Dyson’s £20m West Park factory in Singapore, which will produce 50,000 motors a week. Dyson sparked controversy a decade ago when it moved its production from Malmesbury to Malaysia, a decision that resulted in almost 600 British jobs being axed. Sir James said on Monday that that decision in part reflected a shortage of engineers in the UK. The group now employs about 3,600 staff, 1,500 of them scientists and engineers.

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