Thread Number: 74359  /  Tag: Modern Automatic Washers
Guys, I need some help with a new design
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Post# 981446   2/5/2018 at 22:59 (190 days old) by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Folks, As I mentioned several times before, I'm the product design director at The Laundry Alternative Inc.

A few months ago we released the SCAW2GEN model that turned into a huge success. We planned the first stock to last nearly 8 months but it sold out in 11 days, now our factory is working 24/7 because we're receiving hundreds of emails asking for it.

As I said on the Speed Queen post, a few weeks ago, I'm developing a full size washer.

Here's what we have up to the moment:

-Full size washer, compact size
-8.5 to 9kg capacity (I'm still working on the agitator design)
-tempered glass lid
-Body 100% made of plastic (no, we can not use metal 1st because we don't have a press yet and second because of the shipping weigh)
-I've managed a way to run away from D.O.E. standards. It has a manual water level selector (4 levels) and the highest level is half centimeter below the balance ring.
-Manual temperature selector, but unfortunately the hot water had to be limited to maximum 66C. If the water heater is set above 66C, then the washer will mix SOME cold water, only enough to cool down back to the maximum limit.
-850 rpm spin
-8 automatic cycles, including quick wash and "extra heavy duty" that includes 1 hour of soak with intermitent agitations.
- The control interface is a dial, no push buttons or electronic membranes at all. the washer will have three knobs.
- Lid switch AND lid lock that activates during the spin (our lawyers forbid me to make it without that)
-Rubber hoses with brass connectors
-Casters (four) and the two front casters have brakes.
-Extra long power cord and hoses. (depending on the layout, apartment users won't need to move the washer to reach the sink or power outlet)
-Possibility to use it connected to a regular kitchen or bathroom faucet. (cap to close the hot inlet, quick connect adapter and user will use only one hose and select the temperature at the faucet.
-Dispenser drawer (Detergent, bleach, softener and lint filter box)
-Recirculating lint filter (pump and waterfall)
-Fill behind the drum (the detergent won't fall undissolved on the top of the clothes causing stains)
-Timed bleach dispenser
-Agitator will NOT be dual action. It will probably look like a spiralator agitator.

Things I still in doubt if I do it or not:

1) Include warm rinse option?
2) The washer will have 4 different agitation profiles based on the cycle selected.
3) Is the super heavy duty automatic cycle ok or i should change it to a "soak" (the washer only fills, agitates and starts the soak with intermitent agitations and continues forever until the user selects other cycle)

Is there anything else I'm forgetting?





Post# 981471 , Reply# 1   2/6/2018 at 05:26 (190 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        
fwiw:

Warm option yes.  I  might only use it in winter, but I'd want it there.

 

Agitation, you'd know best.  Do like spiralator from what I recall of the Easy.  But then, in 1953 I may not have been 'all-that' astute an observer.  I was only 7yo.

 

Super heavy:  This is where digital controls would actually DO something besides run up repair bills.  Selectable soak times.  Don't like the 'forever' idea; people 'forget'.  Long soaks (1-4hrs) would be awkward to implement with a cam timer, but not impossible.  Small, simple digital board pauses timer, enables switch-select variable times, and cycle always completes without intervention.  Or leave it fixed at 1hr, even so that's quite a chore for a cam-only timer.

 

Lotta torque, tossing 9kg around.  Lotta repetitive stress where the mechanism meets the case.  In my former life as failure analysis engineer, I'd be concerned.  But not a design engineer, can't suggest what to do about it.  You'll know.


Post# 981508 , Reply# 2   2/6/2018 at 07:50 (190 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

yogitunes's profile picture
agitation speed to adapt to water levels....slower at lower levels, more aggressive during high fills...


if you are incorporating a timed bleach dispenser....its advisable to have it dispense for all cycles.....will save you a bunch of headaches later...


a longer extended final spin, at full speed, would be helpful.....


Post# 981533 , Reply# 3   2/6/2018 at 08:43 (190 days old) by vacbear58 (Sutton In Ashfield & London UK)        
To avoid litigation

vacbear58's profile picture
Make sure it cannot be operated unless the locking castors are locked!

Post# 981591 , Reply# 4   2/6/2018 at 10:26 (189 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

chetlaham's profile picture
Neat- let US know when it comes out. I want it!



"1) Include warm rinse option?"

I think this is a nice touch as most washers today do not offer a warm rinse- in fact I can't think of any. Not saying they don't exist, but I have not seen one as of late. A warm rinse is great for folks up north where during the winder the water might reach 33*F (or somewhere there) right out of the tap.


"2) The washer will have 4 different agitation profiles based on the cycle selected."

Make sure you include a hand-wash cycle and its accompanying agitation. Sears always had that on their portables- that and the fact my mother would use it all the time for her delicate lingerie. You would be surprised at how many people need a hand-wash cycle.


"3) Is the super heavy duty automatic cycle ok or i should change it to a "soak" (the washer only fills, agitates and starts the soak with intermitent agitations and continues forever until the user selects other cycle)"


To me that would be more of a Soak. If you do drain and spin at the end, simply call it "auto soak"


I am leaning more toward having it automatically drain and then spin after the soak period.



"Is there anything else I'm forgetting?"


IMO the auto bleach may not be worth it if cost is only a factor, but if not go for it. I think it will be a good selling point to get people to buy it. And yes- have it dispense for all cycles except rinse and spin and spin only. A 3rd water solenoid may be the best and most fail safe option instead of a wax motor but take that with a grain of salt as I am not the one designing the system.




BTW- I want to say that you are my hero. I have been looking for such a portable for close to two decades now. The back fill and recirculating pump are two huge bonuses for me.


Also- a brake band is not enough?


Post# 981639 , Reply# 5   2/6/2018 at 13:18 (189 days old) by DADoES (TX,U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

If the bleach dispenser is a flush-through design, it should be flushed a few extra times after the initial release to insure there's no residual bleach that could cause spotting on a subsequent load.


Post# 981649 , Reply# 6   2/6/2018 at 14:53 (189 days old) by henene4 (Germany)        

I'd make it a seperate soak cycle, simple as you then can use it before any cycle.

The more agitation speeds the better IMO.

Warm rinse will probably increase your sales quite decently.



A second rinse option would be great, but don't know how to incorporate that with a 3-knob design.



Post# 981658 , Reply# 7   2/6/2018 at 16:16 (189 days old) by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

In my opinion, a place that toploaders are frequently lacking is the dispensers and cycles: I find it *much* more useful to have a dispenser for an automatic pre-wash than anything soak-related. I think it should pre-wash for a few minutes (6-10), drain, spin/spin-rinse/spin, then start washing with a new load of detergent and water. Cool/luke-warm/warm for prewash, cool/warm/hot for wash.

Also, if one doesn't need a pre-wash or a soak, it's helpful to remember that at 140F/60C it takes *at least* 15 minutes for the enzymes to work, and longer on warm/cool. It is helpful to have a washer that *can* agitate for 15-20 minutes without destroying the clothes. I never much cared for the washers that are so aggressive that they can't agitate stuff for 15 minutes without damage and resort to "soak" periods in the middle of the cycle.

Definitely a "spiral" agitator in my opinion.

Then again, I'd much rather buy a front loader anyway, so my opinion and 3 bucks might not be enough to buy a decent cup of coffee, depending on where you shop... ;-)


Post# 981666 , Reply# 8   2/6/2018 at 17:08 (189 days old) by henene4 (Germany)        
Options

Quite honestly, even though I do not know your setup, your limitations and do not want to tell you how your design should go, but a 5 knob design would be awesome and would do something you are trying to do in perfection.


My idea of a perfect topload washer would have a cycle selection, temperature selection, soil level selection, spin speed selection and an option selection.

Cycles would determine agitation profile. So it would be normal/cottons, synthetics, delicates, wool/handwash, a quick wash and eventually a bulky cycle, as well as a rinse&spin and seperate spin cycle.

Temperatures would be cold, cool, warm, medium, hot and extra hot, corresponding 20C, 30C, 40C, 50C, 60C and tap hot (tempered as needed for safety). A tap cold option would addable.

Soil levels could go from extra light to extra heavy, with 7 levels, the 5 lower ones without soak times, the 2 strongest once with soak times of 30min and 1h respectivley, with the latter having a 10 or so minute soak after the bleach has been added.

Spin speeds would be high, medium, low, extra low and rinse hold (though the latter might be a safety issue, so that would have to consulted with your lawyers).

Options would be a second rinse, warm rinse and a prewash, with combinations of those (if I'm not mistaken, that would be as many combinations as cycles).


The programming would level each selection to logic max values for every cycle, for example a warm rinse for synthetics would be cooler then one for cottons, and wool would be max warm.





However, another note for your main design: You should figure out dispenser designs that can dispense both liquid and powder additives.
That would be awesome for both detergents and oxi additives (bleach compartment).


Post# 981670 , Reply# 9   2/6/2018 at 17:30 (189 days old) by DADoES (TX,U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

henene4: Temperatures would be cold, cool, warm, medium, hot and extra hot, corresponding 20C, 30C, 40C, 50C, 60C and tap hot (tempered as needed for safety). A tap cold option would addable.
50C would meet or exceed the typical tap-hot temperature in the majority of U.S. households, which makes 60C and tap-hot redundant. Water heaters typically are set at 120F (49C) at manufacture and the majority of homeowners are unlikely to change them.


Post# 981673 , Reply# 10   2/6/2018 at 17:43 (189 days old) by henene4 (Germany)        

It would make it redundant for most, true, but not for those with really hot water setups, which, AFAIK, is most on AW.org and most who care about super clean washing.

Post# 981699 , Reply# 11   2/7/2018 at 05:19 (189 days old) by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Prewash: impossible nowadays too much water. User can drain manually if wanted

Bleach dispenser. Yep, timed, 7 minutes before the wash drain, all cycles. It will spray 4x 30 seconds each with a "pee".

Water temperatures: hot-warm, warm-warm, hot-cold, warm-cold, cold-cold.

Hot will open only hot salve and atc will cool down anything above 66C.

Cold will open only cold obviously but will open hot for anything below 22C.

Warm opens both valves, no atc at all.

Timer is not mechanical, so I am free to edit the programs and make them "smart". Timer doesn't move during wash.

I'm thinking about keeping the soak with one hour. Then stop. No drain. User can then select any other program or spin only if wants to drain.

Super heavy duty will have a long wash (1 hour washing, then the rinses, to spank really nasty clothes.

Heavy duty with soak pauses, but also long.

Agitation profiles will change according to water level and cycle (delicate cycle will have the gentle agitation on all levels.

Impossible to put 5 knobs. No space on the control box. Design and molds already exist. Too much money to open new molds.

Drum has a brake. it remains locked during wash and release during drain. Overload may make the drum index.

4 solenoids (detergent, bleach, softener and spray rinse. Washer fills half low level through spray rinse, then detergent or bleach solenoid opens together to fill faster. Additives fall behind drum, not on clothes, drum spins (slow pulses) during fill to mix additives before touching clothes.

Filter pump is same drain pump, to recover all the detergent.

There is a chance it doesn't end with record pump to reduce costs.

Msrp must be below magic chef and Haier.

Made in Brazil, not China. So cost is challenging.

Rubber hoses, brass connectors.

Drain hose pvc.

Neutral drain with pauses to prevent overflowing bathroom sinks. (Boring but necessary)

3-year hassle free warranty.

Now the bomb news: SUDS SAVER! But it's impossible to drain in a laundry sink and suck the water back. But there will be an option to pause before each drain. User can change the load and reuse water or drain with pauses saving the water in buckets, for example for washing sidewalks. Not much but it's better than nothing.

No sensors on casters, but suspension system is good enough to keep the washer stable even with casters unlocked. OOB sensor pauses the spin if OOB is detected.




Post# 981700 , Reply# 12   2/7/2018 at 05:23 (189 days old) by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

I forgot... dispenser for powder and liquid detergent (removable tray), liquid bleach, liquid fabric softener.

Post# 981707 , Reply# 13   2/7/2018 at 07:04 (189 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Hi Thomas

combo52's profile picture

Very interesting project, I would be concerned about an ALL plastic machine, this has never been done in a full sized machine [ 24"-27" wide X 36" high washer ] I don't know what size you are actually trying to build.

 

All plastic is just too heavy and too great a fire hazard, steel has far greater strength per pound than plastic and as size gets larger plastic gets very heavy. A fire with a full sized plastic appliance could easily destroy an entire home and kill the entire family, I suppose that you could build in a fire extinguisher system that could release inside the cabinet and control area to self extinguish a fire.

 

The other main concern is using a spiral ramp agitator just will not turn over a load as large as you like without the tub holding over 20 gallons of water, and a washer that uses this much water with a 66C wash temperature and a warm rinse option will use far too much hot water to ever sell in large numbers. [ how large is this machine actually going to be ?, water capacity etc ]

 

Overall this sounds like a fun project, keep us informed as it progresses.

 

John L.


Post# 981718 , Reply# 14   2/7/2018 at 09:51 (188 days old) by RevvinKevin (Southern California)        
Super Heavy Duty cycle

revvinkevin's profile picture

 

 

Just my opinion, but ONE HOUR of agitation sounds really excessive, especially w/o a water change.  I remember seeing clothes left agitating in a wringer washer for over an hour and there was a noticeable amount of lint in the water!  This is one cycle I would never use.

 

Now the HD cycle with 1 hour of intermittent agitate/soak/agitate I would use.

 

For rinsing I assume it will only do 1 deep rinse (unlike SCAW2GEN) and the 4 "pee spray" rinse during spin?




This post was last edited 02/07/2018 at 16:24
Post# 981722 , Reply# 15   2/7/2018 at 10:30 (188 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

yogitunes's profile picture
sometimes isn't it easier to keep it simple....for ease of use, and no nonsense to understand...

basically a one cycle, one dial wonder if you will.....Soak>>Prewash>>Wash>>Spin>>Rinse>>Spin>>>>ExRinse option....cycle can be started anywhere along the cycle dial...

options....
Wash/Spin speeds...N/F N/S S/F S/S
Water Temps...H/C H/W W/W W/C C/C
Variable water levels.....
Normal or ECO modes

these have always been some of the most basic of operations, yet the variations are endless for any fabric or load....


Post# 981834 , Reply# 16   2/7/2018 at 21:06 (188 days old) by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        
I have no suggestions, but

speedqueen's profile picture
I want to commend your designs! I am ashamed to admit that I only looked at the products offered by The Laundry Alternative today. They are amazing for what they do with so little. The old lint filter design on the compact automatic is so simple, but so amazingly designed. The self cleaning design seems good too. I am simply blown away! I can say with confidence that your new full size automatic will be good.

Any chance you lot over at the design team have any plans for a Combo washer-dryer that will best the old Equator units?


Post# 981835 , Reply# 17   2/7/2018 at 21:31 (188 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Having Wheels On A Full Sized TL Washer

combo52's profile picture

You should diffidently using retractable wheels so the washer can sit on all four feet when you are trying to spin an over 20 pound load at 850 RPMs, just locking two wheels is not likley to work well enough, you could even use a motorized retractable wheel assembly that work at the flick of a switch.

 

John L.


Post# 981863 , Reply# 18   2/8/2018 at 03:32 (188 days old) by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Thanks for all the advices.


Plastic polymers are being used for decades in Brazil for full size washers. And they work amazingly well.
Production cost is drastically reduced, the shipping weight is ridiculous and the resistance in most cases is BETTER than the standard zync bodies. (Specially in cities near the ocean or in wet basements (rust).

The only nightmare is if the appliance is exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods (sunlight will deteriorate the material)

I thought about retracting casters, but again, cost is a PITA to deal with. Something that may look silly and cheap in one unit may increase $1 on the product price and the market is extremely tight.

We're doing our best trying to offer a quality much better than those Chinese companies that simply sell their products in the USA but they simply don't care if the product will break after 90 days. On my shoulder, I have the weight of the standard three year "hassle-free" warranty The Laundry Alternative offers on all products. If anything goes wrong, we will ship a brand new product at absolutely no cost.

If anything goes wrong, it means that we have a huge loss. So i have to make sure nothing will go wrong.

So we have on one hand chinese competitors that sell "cute" washers very cheap because they have ridiculously cheap production costs and we are investing heavy on QUALITY. It's not a washer to last 3 or 4 years. We want them to last AT LEAST 10 years.

Unfortunately consumers here in the US don't really care about washers, they just check the price tag. Even making our product zillions of times better than the competitor, if it costs 50 cents more, the consumers will prefer the competitor. Because of that we simply can't add everything we want, otherwise this washer would even have an internal heater.
We're a small company, nothing next to huge companies like Whirlpool, Samsung and LG. We can't even think about making it cost the same as an Amana washer.
Months ago we had to kill the SuperPop exactly because of that. The washer was obviously way better than those Panda and other tiny washers sold on Ebay, but guess what. It costed $69.99 and people would prefer to buy those crappy countertop washers because they costed $59.99

Other thing that hurts our reputation is having a factory in china (our own factory, we control everything). But people see that "made in china" in some of our products and think they're made in one of thoss xing ling factories and we just put our logo on the product.

We have plans to bring our production back to the US, We even have the plant already built, but labor costs, taxes and lack of suppliers simply make it impossible. We simply can't sell a spin dryer for $700 or the SCAW2GEN for $1200 only to cover the costs without any profit.

Thanks to Whirlpool and Trump, now the SCAW2GEN is out of stock while we transfer the production to Brazil.


A similar model for this full size top load washer is already sold in Brazil (made by our partner company) for about 1 year and the breakage rate is below 0.5% (and Brazil is a horrible market because of all the liability issues much worse than here in the US. When speed queen released their HORRIBLE 2018 top load it was a clue for us to make this washer ASAP. We are intentionally going against the energy efficiency crap. It worked with the SCAW2GEN. It reached a point that ordinary consumners are so pissed off with "high efficiency" washers that don't rinse well that they are now looking for the worst performers. By the way, this washer has two deep rinses because no matter what happens, we don't want a single consumer saying it doesn't rinse well or he or she had to repeat the cycle to have a decent rinse.


Right now we're about to release the MegaWash, a 33lbs capacity semi automatic washer, for an specific market (it won't be available for everybody yet) The model exists in Brazil since several years ago and it is also 100% made of plastic. it was challenging to increase the capacity by 12% without changing the external dimensions because the washer is already huge and also i had to basically redesign it from scratch to adapt it to American standards.

I'm working on two washer-dryer models... One will be full size, with removable drum, based on a model that already exists and the other will be tiny, developed from scratch in partnership with Kohler and it will fit even the tiniest apartment in the US using a dead space 100% of the apartments have.


Post# 981881 , Reply# 19   2/8/2018 at 09:23 (187 days old) by wft2800 (Leatherhead, Surrey)        

Maximum temp of 66c is hopeless! There are a lot of buyers around the world who want a lot hotter than that...




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