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issue: August 2008 APPLIANCE Magazine

Accelerated Refrigerator Design
Sophisticated Design


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by David Simpson, Contributing Editor

Electrolux and Estes engage on the design of a new, upscale refrigerator, enabling quick product development without interrupting the current production.

Working with Estes, Electrolux was able to bring the new refrigerator to the market without interrupting normal production flows.

Electrolux and Estes engage on the design of a new, upscale refrigerator, enabling quick product development without interrupting the current production.

Speedy product development was a key need for a new Electrolux side-by-side refrigerator. This product was to be a focal point for an entirely new collection of appliances for the U.S. market. But the company did not want to cause the disruptions and extra cost that would have resulted from interrupting its production line to check designs and complete the development work.

For that reason, Electrolux went to Estes Design and Manufacturing Inc. (Indianapolis, IN, U.S.; www.estesdm.com). The company could refine the design without interrupting the normal Electrolux production flows.

“We came to Estes with a unique concept for the product’s upscale appearance, and a preliminary design to incorporate it in the door,” says Roger Greeley, project manager, Electrolux Home Products de Mexico S.A. de C.V. (Juárez, Mexico). “We knew it would take a stretch from the norm to bring this conceptual appearance to life. That’s when our team decided to bring in Estes.

“After laser cutting and bending the initial blanks and trying some variations of that design, it became clear that more-sophisticated design work was going to be required to achieve the ‘special’ result required of the Electrolux brand products. Engaging with Estes on the design, including some brainstorming and tossing around of ideas, we came up with another concept for the blank. That concept was taken to the CAD station, drawn up, and laser cut to give us the new blank. We bent it up and liked the initial results. With a few more ‘spins’ to tweak some angles and adjustments to notch size, our new concept became reality. We then did a small run to get some quantities of doors for the prototype build of the refrigerator.”

Estes pulled a CAD employee, a production employee, and equipment time, and dedicated them to the project and the needs of the OEM. Parts were cut on a Salvagnini L2 laser and formed on a panel bender from Salvagnini (Sarego, Italy; www.salvagnini.com). The refrigerator is currently in production and in stores.

Since this product development, Estes has launched a prototype shop, with employees cross-trained in CAD and production who are engaged solely in prototyping. It has also added new equipment and software dedicated to prototyping.

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Salvagnini America Inc.
Estes Design and Mfg. Inc.
 

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