With the introduction of its Airblade in 2006, Dyson broke the mold for hand dryers by providing a device that actually dried a person’s hands in timely fashion. The Airblade has proven a huge success for the company, picking up numerous awards and saving untold thousands from soggy handshakes. Dyson has now expanded its Airblade line with three new models powered by what the company calls one of the world’s smallest and fully integrated 1600 W motors.
Taking 10 years and more than US$40 million to develop, Dyson’s new digital motor that sits at the heart of the new dryers relies on a bonded magnet encased in a carbon fiber sleeve. The company says that using digital pulse technology, the motor is able to accelerate from 0 to 90,000 rpm in 0.7 seconds and generate enough power to shift 30 liters of air per second. With the motor from the previous Airblade also found in Dyson's Air Multiplier fan, it's a pretty safe bet that the new motor will also feature in new fans in the not too distant future.
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With a diameter of 85 mm, the new brushless DC motor is one of the reasons Dyson has been able to shed 2.5 kg (5.5 lb) of material from the new Airblade Mk2. Like its predecessor, the Mk2 scrapes water from both sides of the hands at the same time to dry hands in 10 seconds without needing to heat the air.
The unit also passes the air through a HEPA filter to capture 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses, and is HACCP approved as being hygienically safe for use in the food and beverage industry. The new model also packs six Dyson-designed Helmholtz silencers to cut the noise emitted from the dryer. Dyson claims it also produces up to 72 percent less CO2 emissions than some other hand dryers and up to 68 percent less than paper towels.
While the Mk2’s lineage is apparent at a glance, the Airblade V appears more like a brother from another mother. Instead of drying both sides of the hands simultaneously, the Airblade V only does one side at a time. Despite this, Dyson still claims a 10 second drying time with the added benefit of a recess-free install thanks to its 4-inch (10 cm) depth. The Airblade V also features a HEPA filter and offers touch free operation by detecting hands using a capacitance sensor.
The Airblade Tap sees Dyson branching out into washing by doing something previously unheard of – combining the tap and hand dryer into the one unit. Again offering touch-free operation, the Airblade Tap uses infrared sensors to detect whether the hands are positioned for washing or drying and reacts accordingly – either releasing water from the central tap stem or issuing two high velocity sheets of air from the tap branches.
The minimalist design is accomplished by housing the system’s key components under the sink, which may be part of the reason the drying time blows out to 12 seconds for this model. Like its siblings, the Airblade Tap also uses HEPA filters.
Dyson says the washing/drying combo setup provides a number of advantages, including preventing water dripping on the floor as the user moves from the sink to the hand dryer. The combination also reduces the amount of floorspace needed in public washrooms, potentially providing the opportunity to install additional cubicles.
Given that Dyson estimates savings starting at around US$185 a year in running costs when compared to other hand dryers, and savings of over $2,000 a year compared to paper towels, the company will likely find plenty of takers for its new Airblade models despite the high upfront cost.
The Dyson Airblade Mk2 will retail for £650 (US$1,024) for the white finish and £800 (US$1,260) for the aluminum model, while the white Airblade V will go for £500 (US$788) and £520 (US$820) for the nickel finish. The Airblade Tap, which Dyson points out means no need to buy additional taps, retails for £1000 (US$1,575).