Thread Number: 786
Panasonic Washers, including new-tech designs
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|Post# 51315   12/18/2004 at 09:15 (6,667 days old) by Designgeek ()  || |
I've just discovered that Panasonic has a really extensive product line in washers. They range from an ultra-compact, through a number of compact top-loaders and twin-tubs, to a new-technology front loader that's a really interesting design. These aren't available in the USA yet, but we might be able to persuade Panasonic to put them in its USA product line.
Since I'm a Panasonic business telephone systems dealer, I have inside contacts at Panasonic, and they take my input seriously at the corporate level. Seriously enough that a bunch of features I developed a few years ago are now standard in their high-end PBX (business phone system) and voicemail systems product lines (KXTDA and KXTVS products). It also appears that a bunch of my inputs will end up in the revision 2.0 software release for these systems next year.
I am not an employee of Panasonic or any of its subsidiaries; just an independent certified dealer. I do not speak for Panasonic or its subsidiaries. I do *not* have a financial interest in promoting Panasonic washers, so this is not a stealth advertising or marketing campaign. Though I'll probably buy one immediately if they become available here.
If no one objects, I could compile all of your feedback and send it through to Panasonic. That's how we might get them interested in bringing these into the USA. I'm very interested in what y'all have to say about these, because it seems this boad has plenty of experts, including professional appliance service techs, and many people with collections of equipment who have a historical perspective on the industry and the technologies.
Some of these links are rather long, so you may have to copy & paste them into a browser in chunks.
1) Here's the link to the press release on the new-tech front-loader.
Inclined axis drum, water/detergent are cycled through the load via spray nozzles in the drum baffles, therefore using even less water than a conventional FL.
2) Here's the deliberately low-tech machine they call a Bubble Bucket, which is intended to wash a pound of delicates at a time, or heavily-soiled stuff such as kitchen towels and workshop rags. The link goes to the page about their R&D process that led to this one being produced, and from there you can find the links to the product page that includes "how it works" and so on.
3) Here's a link to their "kids" page, which is a two-page article. The second page explains how differnt types work, and the last item on that page describes a new operating principle they've developed, using centrifugal cascade action.
4) More about the centrifugal cascade washing action:
5) The main page for the entire washer product line:
And now some pictures, if I can manage to get them in here....
|Post# 51316 , Reply# 1   12/18/2004 at 09:18 (6,667 days old) by Designgeek ()  || |
It seems I can't get more than one picture up here at a time... Here's the new Panasonic FL in four different door colors. Don't I wish they made their KXTDA business telephones in light blue and light green too!:-)
By the way, it would appear that the inclined-axis drum reduces the need for a door seal, or reduces the degree to which the door seal becomes a critical maintenance item that's subject to extensive wear. I'm not certain of this, but that's how it looks.
|Post# 51317 , Reply# 2   12/18/2004 at 09:21 (6,667 days old) by Designgeek ()  || |
This one's at the opposite end of the product line: their low-tech model called the Electric Bubble Bucket; as the name says, it's designed to replace hand-washing individual items in a bucket.
Available in blue (shown), yellow, and white (Europe only), as described on the web site.
Yes apparently there are a whole bunch of imitators on the market now, probably made largely in China, and probably not as robustly built as the Panasonic original.
|Post# 51318 , Reply# 3   12/18/2004 at 09:32 (6,667 days old) by Designgeek ()  || |
Here's a link to a two-page article on their centrifugal washing principle. It appears to be a very interesting design that has significant potential for water savings and increased capacity in top-loaders.
By the way, yes, I just noticed the feature on this board that allows posting URLs as direct links, rather than using the copy-and-paste method that I'm used to on public BBSs.
And in case that doesn't work for some reason, here's the copy-and-paste link just to be sure!:-)
I'm really interested in what y'all have to say about this system, and the Panasonic machines in general.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO Designgeek's LINK
|Post# 51328 , Reply# 4   12/18/2004 at 14:58 (6,667 days old) by davenp ()  || |
I for one would be very interested in these machines.
As much as one can say this about an appliance,
"They are BEAUTIFUL!"
I would think that with Panasonics reputation in the electronics world, these machines would appeal to "techno geeks" who like a lot of gadgets. The control panel on those machines (from what I can see) looks like it gives A LOT of different options.
One thing that I would have to request is the ability to customize cycles. I'm talking spin speed, water temp AND water level. Laundry geeks like myself need to be able to adjust ALL of these. The ability to add MORE water than is standard to any any given setting would be a MAJOR plus.
Finally, I have a Panasonic PBX phone system in my home and if I could someone "dial up" my washer and know if my laundry was washed or what stage it was at in the cycle.. that would be a "really" nice feature! :)
PS: Please keep the nice colored rings around the doors :)
|Post# 51335 , Reply# 5   12/18/2004 at 22:08 (6,667 days old) by drmitch ()  || |
Very interesting design! Great colors! Would probably do well in the U.S. market.
|Post# 51348 , Reply# 6   12/19/2004 at 03:00 (6,667 days old) by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, Friesland, the Netherlands)  || |
|Post# 51360 , Reply# 7   12/19/2004 at 07:49 (6,666 days old) by Designgeek ()  || |
Thanks for the feedback so far.
One of the things I've noted about Panasonic's design philosophy (at least in telephone systems) is that they provide an enormous range of features, *but* at the same time, you can use the basic functions really easily. So I would have to guess that these washers have a similar functionality, i.e. you can select any of a number of normal cycles, and you can probably also customize the cycles. Alternately, there could be a way for service techs to customize cycles via some kind of computer interface. That would make sense for installations with unusual requirements of whatever kind.
I agree about being able to customize settings e.g. water, agitation, spin, etc. That's the reason I got interested in twin-tubs: think of Linux for your laundry, with a command-line interface:-). That is, "manual everything," which is the next best thing to "fully customizable automatic everything."
"Ability to add more water = major plus." Interesting, that runs against the prevailing tendency these days, but I'll still include that point in the compilation I send in. Though I wonder if there's a maximum, based on the amount of weight the machine is designed to handle.
One thing I've done in laundromats with FLs is load the dry clothes to 2/3 the absolute volume of the drum (uncompressed); with water added the total load volume shrinks to about 1/2 the volume of the drum, which IMHO makes for a more thorough washing action. Also presumably increases the ratio of water to clothing by weight, which gets you to the same place as adding more water.
Re. dialing into your Panasonic PBX to connect to the laundry: *Very* interesting application! Heck, I could design that one. See below for more...
If you're in the appliance business, feel free to post those pictures in your store and see what the customers think. Or show them to customers on your monitor (best is to go direct to the Panasonic press release and click the pics). (Obviously, not to show to people who are buying washers in your present product line, we would call that "paradoxical selling":-), but if someone comes in to buy a fridge or a range, see what they think.)
There would probably be a temp control among all of those pushbuttons. Japanese culture is big on cleanliness, so I would have to guess they have hot water settings on these. I recall seeing references to water temp on some of the TL compacts, so I can't imagine the top of the line FLs operating on cold only.
In fact a lot of foreign machines have built-in inline water heaters, so you can dial up a temperature and the machine will provide water accordingly. Even some of the old twin-tubs had that function. So there's another way it could be done, and the more I think about it, the more I think it's likely Panasonic has this option.
By the way, if you look closely you'll see the name "National" is on the door. That's Panasonic's brand within Japan. (I have a PBX dialphone made in 1964 with the National name on it. Last time I met with the folks from Panasonic Japan they said they had seen these at their tech museum.)
Linking the laundry to the home PBX:
Something we have right now is the "door opener" function that's normally associated with the "doorphone" intercom. The door opener is a low-voltage relay. How'bout this: Use the low-voltage relay to switch a power relay that could turn a washer or dryer on remotely. You dial in, use a DISA function to send the feature codes to the system for turning things on or off.
One of the things that's on the drawing board for Panasonic PBXs is a set of interfaces for external sensor contact closures. These could be wired to any kind of external switch, for instance the output of a relay on a washer, to tell you when the cycle is complete.
For that matter, I can set up something right now, to interface to any oldschool automatic washer with a cam-actuated sequencer. The way it works is: when the wash is done, the washing machine closes a contact that triggers a "hotline dialer" function, which rings one or more extensions in the house to let you know it's time to go move the clothes to the dryer. And another such sensor could ring your extension(s) when the dryer cycle is complete.
However, since the PBXs also have computer-telephony integration and the option for both USB and (early next year) ethernet ports on the telephone sets, this suggests something *really* nifty. I wonder if those new high-end FLs have an onboard microprocessor with any kind of industry-standard outputs...? Because if they do...!... interface the data port on the washer to a CTI port or Ethernet port, and then with a little bit of software, the screen on your telephone (elsewhere in the house, or with Internet-telephony, anywhere in the world) would display the current status of your wash load. "Wash cycle" "Rinse 1" "Rinse 2" ... etc...
Here's where I think that would come in helpful. Think of a house where you have to go down two flights of stairs to get to the basement laundry room. Or think of an apartment building with a communal laundry in the basement. Okay, so you put your clothes in, and you go back to your apartment or living room, press a button on your phone for Laundry, and enter the two- or three-digit number for the machine you're using. Then you sit back and read a book or watch a movie or get on the internet or whatever. Your telephone screen tells you how much time remains until the load is done, and possibly tells you what part of the cycle the washer is on.
When the wash is done, you go downstairs and transfer the load to a CTI-enabled dryer, and then go back upstairs and dial up the dryer, and sit back and relax.
Personally I have always found the buzzers on dryers to be rather loud and alarming, so this would be a huge improvement. On the other hand, it seems that a lot of folks here like to just sit back and watch the machine go to work, so a remote signal would be redundant for them.
For that matter, I do the same thing at laundromats- bring something to read and end up watching the suds go 'round. I've always found it relaxing and contemplative, so now I guess I'm not alone in that regard! In fact I have a wild hypothesis about this, which I'll post somewhere under the heading "earth, air, water, fire," and see what y'all think.
Has anyone had a chance to check out the "cascade action" links?
Basically how it works is, the inner drum spins throughout the wash cycle; the shape of the outer drum directs the water flow back into the top of the inner drum. Thereby, the water is forced outward through the clothes by centrifugal force, spins out through the perforations of the inner tub, and then the flow is directed back into the center where it passes through the clothes again (and again) like a continuous rinse-extract function during the wash cycle. There is no scrubbing or rubbing as you have with an agitator or horizontal revolving drum. I'm really intrigued with this, it seems it could be very effective, and very water-efficient for a TL design.
|Post# 51369 , Reply# 8   12/19/2004 at 10:07 (6,666 days old) by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, Friesland, the Netherlands)  || |
The name National was also used outside Japan in the past. I'm in Europe and I remember that my mother had a National Panasonic vacuum.
I had a look at the Panosonic toploader control panels, but none of them has a temperature control. IIRC Japan also has a 110V or even lower electrical system, so it would be very unlikely that they have built in heaters.
|Post# 51380 , Reply# 9   12/19/2004 at 12:41 (6,666 days old) by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)  || |
I can't say for sure, because I have never used a washer of this design, but I suspect that moving only water and not the fabric would not stretch the fabric in any way to open up the fibers, this might keep many solid types of dirt stuck in the fabric. The clothes themselves might act like a filter screen and pet hair as well as other large particles might just stay trapped where it is in the wash load.
Just like with the patents no one can really can't say if something will work or not without actually trying it and making small adjustments to perfect the design.
|Post# 51383 , Reply# 10   12/19/2004 at 13:20 (6,666 days old) by peteski50 (New York)  || |
This is a very interesting TL washer design. I bet it would be exciting to watch in action. Seems like it would put on some show. I would like to get more info on the FL models. I could not obtain any from the website. I have a LG 3677 big combo. So I am interested in in how their techno differs.
|Post# 51390 , Reply# 11   12/19/2004 at 17:47 (6,666 days old) by westytoploader ()  || |
The Panasonic front-loader appears to be very promising, but the real test will be how it holds up in the long run. I do like the water-level switching feature.
IMHO, centrifugal wash action is a joke. Sure, the impeller (pulsator) tangles, but I have 3 impeller-action washers and every article of clothing I wash in them comes out clean. Apparently Panasonic doesn't understand that it's good for the laundry to move! I agree with Robert; it all depends on how the laundry moves through the water. I don't know what will happen if that kind of technology comes here...scary.
As for National Panasonic, I've seen (and bid on) a few flip-style clock radios under that name on eBay. Very good design if I might add, with clean lines. If I had a flip clock, it would be a Panasonic.
|Post# 51675 , Reply# 12   12/24/2004 at 00:05 (6,662 days old) by designgeek ()  || |
Good points, Unimatic and Westy, re. the issues of pet hair and such getting stuck in the fabric, and the load not moving. I wonder how Panasonic will reply to those issues.
Westy, re. impellers/pulsators: Seems to me that the tangling would cause premature garment wear; is that the case? Also, do the pulsators reverse direction periodically, and if so, how often?
It seems to me the effective difference between a pulsator and an agitator is that a pulsator sets up a whirlpool or cyclonic flow pattern, whereas an agitator sets up a toroidal flow pattern. Now if a pulsator were equipped with deeper fins and operated on a reversing transmission (or the motor were reversed more frequently), it would produce a more toroidal water flow, and less tangling.
Has anyone come up with a pulsator design that doesn't produce tangling? I once used a friend's Hoover with side-mounted pulsator, and was somewhat surprised and not exactly thrilled with having to disentangle my wet clothes at the end of the cycle. Yet it certainly worked in the sense that it cleaned effectively.
|Post# 51798 , Reply# 13   12/26/2004 at 08:34 (6,659 days old) by kenmore1978 ()  || |
It's a wonder, but Japan's normal house voltage is even lower than in the US (100 volts)
The thing that has impressed me about Panasonic is that in all the years of reading Consumer Reports, their products are always at or near top of the Frequency Of repair ratings for ALL their products, no matter what it is. Other companies would have a product that was good in that regard and another that was bad i.e., Maytag washers would rate well, but their ranges and refrigerators would be much worse. To Whirlpool's credit, most of their appliances seem to be in the upper part of the chart, be it a range, refrigerator, or laundry appliance.
|Post# 52014 , Reply# 14   12/29/2004 at 23:05 (6,656 days old) by arrrooohhh (Sydney Australia)  || |
This centrifigul wash action I am very sure was firsdt intorduced by LG. It is called the turbo drum Direct Drive employing the same motor and drive system as the Fisher and Paykel, I am sure it must be some kind of infringement.
Instead of driving the agitator it has a one piece stainless steel drum that spins and causes the water to ride up and over the tub back into the centre. Some stores has demonstration models set up and it is heaps of fun to watch, real washday drama you dont get in a Whirlpool, but how effective it is as a washer I dont know, our consumer magazine, Choice has never tested one and neither do I know anyone who has had first hand experience.
Its been copied by Samsung, and now obivously, panasonic, but Panasonics system of keeping clothes stationary is novel and could be useful for some real delicate items.
The Japanese have made some extremely reliable washing machines that are still in operation, but the new models they produce, like the Korean machines, must have some gimmick, the Asian market loves a gimmick, most dont seem to have any real benefit. The biggest Joke has to be Daewoo and their "air bubbles" I used this machine and didnt see any air bubbles, I was expecting it to be like a little jacuzzi tub!
I did a google search and found this discription. The LG australia web site didnt give much description on the DD machine though I do have a sales brouchure that i should scan.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO arrrooohhh's LINK
|Post# 52028 , Reply# 15   12/30/2004 at 11:09 (6,655 days old) by designgeek ()  || |
Interesting find, Aarrrooohhh. 22# load, I wonder how they manage that?, or is it just the size of the drum and no need for turnover? But why was it discontinued?
Panasonic wouldn't infringe someone's patent, they're too oldschool conservative for that kind of thing. Though I'm sure they get licensing arrangements where needed, and another possibility is to make some further improvement on a design that enables filing a new set of patents on it. I've seen the latter occur in other industries I'm familiar with. In the present case of centrifugal wash action, the improvement might be the provision of water re-entry points at various height levels within the drum.
I am seriously impressed by the level of knowledge y'all have here, not to mention the sense of community.