F&P’s dishy product nine years in R&D cycle

Sophisticated software-based design technology is behind a revolutionary dishwasher developed by Fisher & Paykel. The DishDrawer design, which can halve energy, water and detergent use, was nine years in conception. Early development work was done with Catia software, but F&P then switched to ProEngineer because of its 3D geometry base.

Sophisticated software-based design technology is behind a revolutionary dishwasher developed by Fisher & Paykel.

Recently released in New Zealand and soon to be in the US, the DishDrawer changes the concept of the traditional dishwasher into a two-drawer unit. That brings a variety of benefits, including the ability to wash table dishes separately while heavily soiled baking dishes are placed in the second drawer, and where there is a small load, halving energy, water and detergent use by using only one drawer.

The project was nine years in conception, says senior industrial designer Mark Elmore. Early development work was done with Catia software, but F&P then switched to ProEngineer because of its 3D geometry base, which allowed components to be designed within tight constraints.

F&P also greatly reduced the size of the conventional dishwasher motor — the DishDrawer has two — from around 200mm in height to just 70mm. Special plastic for the attached rotor, which is exposed to the water and detergent, was designed in conjunction with Dupont

F&P chose Alias/Wavefront software from Silicon Graphics to render various assemblies on screen so the designers could see how they looked before they went to the more expensive tooling process.

“Part of the process was to check visually how each piece was shaping up,” says Elmore.

“Essentially, this has meant getting a better level of quality with design decisions.”

The next step is to use the software to speed up the -process.

Longer term, Elmore says, the design software may be linked into the company’s new J D Edwards financials.

For complex, fine detailed parts, polymer models of parts were built by using laser output directly from the computer to cure and build up layers of the polymer from a vat into the required shape.

Elmore says that process costs around a tenth of what it would cost to build a prototype.

F&P is assembling 400 double units a day at its recently remodelled manufacturing plant in Dunedin.

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