Plastics prime appliance designs Polymers add distinctive touches that tweak consumer interests
Newton, MA--What do Maytag, Whirlpool, and Royal Appliance have in common? They all benefit from the flexibility that plastics give them in the design of new products.
Take the Maytag Neptune horizontal-axis washer, for example. The Filled and Reinforced Plastics Div. of Ferro Corp. (Cleveland) developed two new compounds to meet Maytag's special needs for structural integrity, chemical resistance, UL durability, and reduced operating noise. The washer's tub and cover feature Ferro's new GAPEXTM product line.
The polypropylene (RPP) fills a complex insert mold to form the tub and structural frame. The cover consists of a high-performance, engineered, glass-hybrid reinforced polypropylene (APP) that molds flatter parts for easier and quicker assembly. Use of the new compounds helped Maytag avoid $80,000 in mold changes, according to Ferro.
Consumers also benefit from the design. The horizontal-axis washer reduces water use by 40% and cuts energy costs by 60% when compared with traditional machines, Maytag claims. In addition, the ma-chine's ergonomics make loading and unloading easier.
The project took six years to develop. It involved coordinating efforts of numerous Maytag and Ferro suppliers, designers, and processors. The final design, said to be the most technically innovative washer on the market, recently received a patent. But, from Maytag's standpoint, the true test came when the company enjoyed higher than anticipated sales.
Shrinking oven parts. Novel design and engineering using a PET thermoplastic polyester resin made major contributions to the clean, contemporary styling and durability of the latest built-in ovens from Whirlpool Corp. The company's Whirlpool® and KitchenAid® built-ins now come with handle, control panels, and vents that feature one-piece, integrally colored components.
White and almond parts are molded from Rynite® RE9095, a formulation that combines long-term color stability when exposed to heat with other engineering properties. Black parts are molded from Rynite FR515. DuPont Engineering Polymers (Wilmington, DE) supplied the materials to Whirlpool for the project.
"Rynite PET gives us styling flexibility, durability, and manufacturing economies," says Christopher Weiland, Whirlpool senior engineer. "It allows smooth, seamless designs that cannot be achieved with assemblies of metal and thermoset parts. For handles, some models have a sleek, one-piece towel bar design, while others have a seamless, closed-top design for finger-pull opening."
The previous KitchenAid control panel consisted of 24 parts; the new panel has only three. Not only did the reduction in part count eliminate several finishing steps, but it did away with many soil- and grease-catching joints. Servicing is simplified, since the parts are easier to remove and replace.
Moll Plasticrafters L.P. (LaVergne, TN) molds the components for Whirlpoo