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issue: September 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

Engineering: Laundry Appliances
Miele: Steel Innovating


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Miele's Honeycomb Drum Awarded German Steel Industry's Innovation Prize

Germany's Stahl-Informations-Zentrum (Steel Information Centre) awarded Miele the steel industry's innovation prize for its honeycomb washing machine drum. The drum was developed in Gutersloh, Germany, with a honeycomb pattern designed for gentle laundry care.

The jury stated that "the domestic appliance manufacturer Miele & Cie. KG has used the exemplary ductility of stainless steel to introduce a new honeycomb-structured drum surface, created in a special shaping process. This honeycomb drum, which features far fewer, smaller, and intelligently arranged perforations, reduces the strain on laundry during both the wash and spin cycles, even at break-neck speeds."

Almost 700 applications were evaluated in four categories for the innovation awards. The jury awarded the honeycomb drum second prize in the "products" category. Dr. Markus Miele, managing director and co-proprietor, and Wolfgang Hellhake, head of Miele's product engineering department, accepted the prize at an event in Dusseldorf.

Miele says chromium steel is a particularly suitable material for washing machines as it offers numerous benefits. Most importantly, it is resistant to chemicals in washing detergents and does not corrode, and its ductility allows it to be shaped to produce a sculptured surface and a high degree of rigidity.

Thanks to the shaping properties of the material, Miele can produce a drum with a slightly sculptured, honeycomb surface. Drum perforations are situated at the points where hexagons meet. Instead of the previous 4,000 perforations, Miele's new honeycomb drum has just less than 700. At 2.1mm, these perforations are even smaller in diam than on earlier models (2.3mm). The new drum surface structure, and the reduced number of smaller holes, are designed to give the washer particularly gentle laundry care in both the wash and spin cycles.

Stretching Steel

In drum production, Miele has long made use of potential of stretching chromium steel. Miele inner drums are expanded into shape using special tools that increase the diameter of the initial cylinder from 460 to 480mm. Miele says that expanding, introduced at the beginning of the 1970s, gives added rigidity to the drum, increasing its durability.

The sculptured honeycomb structure, produced in a special patented shaping process, also increases drum rigidity.

Miele explains that the concave hexagons and the reduced number of holes on the drum help create a thin film of water between the laundry load and the drum body. This acts as a cushion to protect laundry and reduce mechanical action on textiles in wash and spin cycles. The honeycomb drum is said to cause significantly less fabric strength loss compared with predecessors.


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Even at a spin speed of 1,800 rpm, the honeycomb drum on Miele's flagship washer, the WÊ2597 Softtronic, dewaters more gently than ever before.

The gentle laundry care of the technology was the subject of a report from German laundry-care research institute WfK, which says: "After 15 wash cycles with pre-damaged standard cotton fibers, the Miele Softtronic appliance produced much better results than comparable machines. After spinning in the Miele Softtronic, no hole pattern was left on laundry, which lay loosely in the drum."

Through continuous improvements to the washing-machine drum, Miele has always remained a step ahead of the competition. Three milestones (from left to right):
Innovative: the first expanded drum. Since the beginning of the Seventies, Miele has been using expansion technology to shape its drums. Special tools are used to stretch the drum from a diameter of 460 to 480Êmm. Expanding gives added rigidity to the drum, increasing its durability.


 

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