What is 5 times faster than a Formula 1 car engine?
Hint: It won’t leave you in the dust
Vacuum cleaners are found in almost every home, but we don’t spend too much time thinking about them. Enter Dyson. The engineering and technology company got homeowners excited about vacuum cleaners and even got men eager about doing household chores. With the Dyson Cyclone V10™, the vacuum cleaner no longer hidden away.
At the heart of the Dyson Cyclone V10™ lies the Dyson digital motor (DDM). A pocket rocket, the latest DDM V10 weighs just 125grams, and spins at 125,000rpm - that’s more than five times faster than a Formula One car engine! The DDM V10 also took 5 years and the involvement of 25 engineers and £100m (S$177m) in investment.
The last surprise? The DDM is also made in Singapore. INSIDE got busy and reached out the Dyson to find out more. Come geek out together with INSIDE as we speak to Ms Yvonne Tan, Dyson’s Research, Design and Development Engineer Manager to find out more.
"We were pushing the limits of how fast the motor could rotate. In order to engineer a motor that could withstand the high speed force of the rotating impeller, we have to reimagine the kinds of materials that were going into the motor."
INSIDE: Let’s get technical. How large is the DDM? How does something of its size generate so much power?
Yvonne: The Dyson digital motor V10 is the lightest, most power dense motor we have to date. Weighing in at just 125g, it delivers 20% more power than the previous iteration.
It also features new integrated electronics, and it is intelligent, continually adjusting to maintain maximum performance. It even knows its altitude and barometric pressure, so whether you are in a high-altitude city with thin air like Mexico City, or a low-lying city like Amsterdam, you’re going to get that same powerful performance. This, among other reasons, is the reason behind the motor’s superior power, and the Dyson Cyclone V10™ cord-free vacuum cleaner’s powerful suction.
Where we’ve managed to get Dyson digital motor technology to today is the result of £360m (S$637m) in research and development. The Dyson digital motor V10 itself took 5 years, the involvement of 25 engineers and £100m (S$177m) in investment. We’re immensely proud of what we’ve achieved.
INSIDE: What advantages does the DDM have? How does it compare to other motors found in other vacuum cleaners in the market? Yvonne: Conventional motors are large, bulky and inefficient. They can weigh as much as 800g, and spin at less than 41,000 rpm. Many of them also have carbon brushes that rely on contact to operate, which generate friction and heat. They also wear out over time, resulting in a loss of performance.
The Dyson digital motor V10 on the other hand is brushless, and is driven by digital switching. It has eight poles, which means it can switch faster - 16,000 times a second to be exact. The fact that it is also very light has also allowed us to radically reinvent the form of a cord-free vacuum cleaner. Instead of the traditional, middle-heavy format, the motor sits close to your hand, which makes it very well-balanced and versatile. You can even transform the vacuum cleaner easily into a handheld machine to clean high-up surfaces.
INSIDE: What is your personal favourite engineering component in the DDM? Yvonne: I would say the shaft of the Dyson digital motor V10. Unlike previous generations of motor, we were pushing the limits of how fast the motor could rotate. In order to engineer a motor that could withstand the high speed force of the rotating impeller, we have to reimagine the kinds of materials that were going into the motor.
For example, instead of a metal shaft, we experimented with a ceramic one. At such high speeds, intense heat is generated, so much so that a steel shaft would develop a curve of 10 to 20 microns – a tiny deviation, but enough to cause disruptive vibrations. Therefore we used ceramic, which when cured at 1,600°C, is three times harder than steel, and exactly half its density.
INSIDE: Like CapitaLand, the DDM is also made in Singapore. Why did Dyson choose to develop the DDM in Singapore?
Yvonne: It is just over 10 years since we began in Singapore with a small, focused engineering team. Our task was to develop, and make, the world’s first high speed, digital, electric motor.
Dyson chose Singapore, because it is one of the few nations with the skills, and supply chain, to make such a complex motor. Today, the reason is no different. Singapore understands, and values, the contribution engineers make to society and have graduates with highly skilled minds.
Moving from vacuum cleaners, Dyson also reinvented the hair dryer; blowing away conventions and creating a new status symbol in the process. To develop the Dyson Supersonic, Dyson engineers delved deep into the science of hair. They spent over 275 hours watching over 100 women over 2 continents wash and dry their hair – that’s nearly 12 days of continuous study.
We get to the bottom of this hairy situation with Mr Graeme McPherson, Head of Category for Personal Care at the Dyson Technology Center in Singapore.
INSIDE: From vacuum cleaners to personal care, why did Dyson decide to develop a hair dryer? Graeme: That’s a question we often get! If you look back at our mission of engineering solutions to problems that others ignore, it really does make sense. We recognised that hair dryers were plagued with problems. They are big, clunky, poorly balanced, cause heat damage, and are loud. Interestingly, hair dryer design hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 1960s.
We applied our knowledge in areas such as motor technology, aerodynamics, electronics, software and more to address these problems. This is how we arrived at the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer.
INSIDE: With Dyson, it is never just the product, it is also the technology and engineering within. What’s unique about the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer and the V9 motor within? Graeme: Indeed. We engineered the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer from the inside out – beginning with the Dyson digital motor. Incredibly compact, we were able to make a radical departure from the conventional approach of putting the hair dryer motor in the head to the user’s hands. Consequentially, we were able to engineer a hair dryer head that was significantly more compact. All this and more resulted in a hair dryer that is incredibly powerful, and yet very well-balanced.
"Without performance, beautiful aesthetics amount to nothing
more than a gimmick."
INSIDE: The shape and form of the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer departs radically from conventional hairdryers. Can you share what are unique design elements of the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer?
Graeme: The Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer’s radically different design is really driven by our unique engineering philosophy. We apply the principle of ‘form follows function’, and believe in a performance-led approach. What this means is that we make it our fundamental mission to engineer a machine that performs better. Without performance, beautiful aesthetics amount to nothing more than a gimmick.
Many have highlighted the iconic ‘bladeless fan’ design. It wasn’t a design decision as much as it was an engineering one. By employing patented Dyson Air Multiplier technology to the hair dryer, we were able to amplify the amount of air coming from the machine by three times. This, combined with the powerful Dyson digital motor V9 is what lends the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer its powerful airflow and fast-drying capabilities.
INSIDE: Lastly Graeme, you’ve got great hair! How do you use the Dyson Supersonic? What’s your routine like?
Graeme: Personally, I like to keep things fuss-free and efficient. I shampoo my hair every morning, rinse, and finish off with the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer. Because it’s got such powerful airflow, it dries my hair within a minute - which is great because my aim is to get out the door as soon as possible.
To develop the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer, Dyson went deep into hair science and research. Graeme shares some of the key findings.
Graeme: Dyson engineers spent a lot of time watching over 100 women over 2 continents wash and dry their hair over 275 hours – that’s nearly 12 days of continuous study! We’ve also invested heavily in our very own hair science laboratories dedicated to understanding the reasons behind hair damage.
We discovered that heat damage was one of the key reasons behind the loss of shine in hair. Extreme heat caused by poorly regulated devices damages the outer layer of the hair structure, known as the cuticle. When that happens, the cuticles open up, giving the hair strand a dull and dry appearance. The dullness of hair is the result of the way light interacts with the surface of the cuticle. When cuticles are frayed, light from a source is bounced in all different directions, resulting in a loss of shine.
Secondly, extreme heat, typically over 150°C actually causes the physical structure of your hair to change. Hair, when healthy, is made up of ⍺-keratin. However, when exposed to heat, the ⍺-keratin slowly converts to β-keratin which over time results in a weaker and less elastic hair strand. This is the reason why hair damaged by heat becomes ‘brittle’, and breaks easily.
This is the reason why we invested heavily into the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer’s intelligent heat control system. An on-board glass bead thermistor measures the temperature of the airflow 20 times per second, and the microprocessor uses that information to regulate the temperature. The result is a machine that minimises heat damage and preserves your hair’s natural shine.
Seeing is believing
From now till the 31st December 2018, head to the Dyson Demo Kiosks at Tampines Mall (Level 2) and Raffles City Singapore (Level 1) and get a hands-on demonstration. All categories of Dyson technology will be available at both kiosks – don’t miss out!
This September, we're featuring all things design!
Did you miss out our story on sneaker trends? Head over for more design stories!
Subscribe for great stories and good deals in your inbox!