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Maytag Unveils New Neptune Drying Center
Sep 19, 2003
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Maytag Corporation has introduced its latest innovation in laundry -- the Neptune Drying Center (DC) -- at two special presentations in New York City, NY, U.S.

APPLIANCE traveled to New York on Thursday to see the first public unveiling of the Neptune DC. A second presentation, held today, gave the financial community its first look at the new laundry product.

The Neptune DC pairs a traditional tumble dryer with an innovative upper drying cabinet. The appliance not only dries clothes, but is also said to minimize shrinkage, speed up the drying process, reduce wrinkles, eliminate odors, and refresh clothing -- all in one product design.

Tony Hair, director of Product Management, told APPLIANCE that after more than 25 consumer research panels, the answer to consumers' demands for better garment care was clearly a multi-purpose drying appliance.

In response, Maytag designed a unique drying cabinet that is attached to the top of its Neptune tumble dryer. The cabinet features removable shelves made out of window screen that allow consumers to flat-dry clothing such as sweaters. A moving hanger rod, which sits above the shelves, allows for air drying of delicate or cotton clothing and has been engineered to release wrinkles by simulating the wind movement in traditional outdoor line drying. The product also features an area large enough to air-dry pants.

A refillable steam bottle, housed in a compartment next to the tumble dryer, allows consumers to release wrinkles and/or refresh clothing. Internal cabinet vents blow air and steam in varying directions for complete drying. There is also a place for dryer sheets if consumers want to add fragrance while steaming.

According to Maytag, the cabinet's drying system has proven to eliminate the “crunchy” feeling many pieces of clothing get after air or flat drying, while also speeding up the drying process. A sweater, the company claims, can be air-dried in 3 hours inside of the cabinet, compared to the usual 16 hours it takes in an open space.

The steam also works to refresh clothing by getting rid of odors, explained Julie Bundy, manager of Consumer Science and Information. “The water molecules attach to the odor molecules and remove them from the garment,” she told APPLIANCE.

Ms. Bundy also said the multi-function product uses only one vent and one power cord for easy installation, but does utilize two blowers and two heating elements for the individual appliance operations. The appliance's digital control panel is also divided in half -- one half controls the dryer and the other half controls the drying cabinet.

Other product features include side-by-side doors with hooks on the inside to hang hard-to-dry items such as hats and gym shoes. Storage hooks located on either side of the appliance hold the removable shelves. The unit also comes with Maytag-designed hangers, which are said to eliminate the hanger marks often left in shirts and pants.

While some laundry appliances currently on the market perform similar functions, Maytag says this is the first effort to offer consumers a space-saving solution for their many laundry tasks. “Consumers don’t want five appliances to just do their laundry,” said Jill Spiekerman, a company spokeswoman. “This gives them one product to do all of their drying tasks.”

In a company statement, Bill Beer, president of Maytag Appliance, addressed the strategy behind the new innovation. "The Neptune washer was introduced in 1997 and created its own premium laundry category," said Mr. Beer. "It's our intention to continue to focus on creating value across all laundry categories, but particularly at the high end."

The Neptune Drying Center is expected to be available to U.S. consumers by the end of 2003 or the beginning of 2004. A final retail price has not yet been determined.

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