I received the Dyson Air Multiplier some time back and was quite fascinated by the way it works. So I decided to fire off a few questions asking how it works and why not just buy a cheaper knock-off? Little did I know that my questions would be answered by Sir James Dyson- the founder of Dyson. Respect to him, knowing that he takes the time out to answer questions from a website that he might have never even heard of.
How did you come up with a new technology like Air Multiplier?
Dyson engineers are an inquisitive bunch. Air Multiplier might never have been invented if our engineers hadn’t spotted something curious about the airflow when they were testing the Airblade hand dryer. Airblade works by blowing a paper-thin sheet of air at 400 miles per hour – literally scraping water from your hands. Engineers noticed that this sheet of air, due to pressure and friction, was dragging a large amount of the surrounding air along with it in a process known as inducement. We didn’t really know what to make of it at first. It seemed like a minor annoyance, as it didn’t affect how well the Airblade worked. But I encouraged the engineers to explore it further. Four years in development later, we had the first bladeless fan.
What is the problem you’re trying to solve with the Air Multiplier?
Fans have long been a frustration of mine. The design hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Their blades literally chop the air causing turbulence and an uncomfortable buffeting feeling. Their annoying grilles make them difficult to clean, and children naturally want to poke inquisitive little fingers into the blades. The Air Multiplier works by drawing air in at the base. A turbo-charged impeller, similar to those used in jet engines, pushes air up into the round loop of the fan, splitting the flow in half, pushing it through the loop and out a 1.3 millimeter slit. As the air moves over a 16-degree slope it creates negative pressure around the moving air – drawing in more air as it moves. Multiplying the air 16 times, the fans generate about 118 gallons of air per second.
How energy efficient is the technology compared to traditional blade fans?
Like all Dyson products the Air Multiplier fan has been lean engineered. This means that it requires fewer raw materials and therefore less energy is needed in manufacture. With no blades, the fan weighs less than 1.8 kg – roughly half the weight of other fans. The fans are powered by a brushless motor, drawing only 40w in full power mode, and only 1w when in standby.
You see a lot of knock-off sold at 1/5th the price- so why buy Dyson?
Our ambition is to solve problems through technology. New ideas take time and money. We invested $10 million and four years developing the first Dyson Air Multiplier fan. And I refuse to engineer to a cost. It’s about how a machine functions. This makes the technology expensive to develop, and we plough a lot of our profits back into research and development.
We protect that investment with patents. But that hasn’t dissuaded inferior copycats from flooding the markets. Copycat bladeless fans have failed nearly every safety test. Most have no safety certifications, poor quality fittings and parts, and perhaps the most concerning point was that every fan failed a flammability test. The truth is that if you want a machine that works like a Dyson, it needs to be a Dyson.
What is next on you roadmap?
I’m constantly frustrated. Dyson engineers are always testing development and redesigning our technology. It is an iterative process in which we hone the performance of our machines. It’s not as simple as brainstorm, sketch, CAD model, prototype, manufacture. Sometimes you’ll spend your time going back and forward between design, prototype and test for a while. Perfectionism and frustration are fundamental to successful inventions. Things don’t work perfectly overnight. It may be a long slog, our technology pipeline stretches beyond 25 years, but it pays off. Dyson has unique patented technology that the world wants.