Innovation, research and development
A Dyson case study

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Page 4: Engineering development

Using the information from consumers, as well as their own experiences and ideas, Dyson in-house design engineers aimed to ensure every detail of the DC03 made vacuuming better for the consumer. All three models in the range are based on Dual CycloneTM technology, but the DC03 upright builds upon DC01 upright and DC02 cylinder models and further improves the design of a vacuum cleaner. The design process was based on iterative development which is slow and painstaking, with testing at every stage. It is the best way to ensure each part of the product is as good as it can be.

Designing at Dyson is a complex process. At all times designers have to balance ideas about how it would function, its performance, safety, reliability and cost. If ideas about one of these change then the whole design has to change. A variety of prototypes such as sketch, bread board, foam and rapid prototype models help the design engineers test the product and realise its functions.

The engineering department decided to invest in a new computer package that would enable them to draw in 3D (3 dimensions) rather than only 2D. As well as allowing more scope for designing on the computer before a model was made, the computer pictures in 3D meant there was less chance their designs would be misinterpreted by the toolmakers. It required a large outlay at an early stage but it would mean a better product in the long run. They then invested in 3D prototype modelling machines to run with the new computer package. This package directly interprets the 3D picture on a screen into a real model.

Customers’ needs and desires

Once the DC03 had reached a working stage, and its new technology had been patented, the marketing research department decided to find out what consumers thought of it by setting up focus groups. Carefully selected groups which included a mix of ages, sexes, and backgrounds, were given a DC03 to use at home and a questionnaire to answer. They were then invited to talk in groups about their findings.

The emphasis throughout the whole development process is on ideas, testing and analysis. This takes time and financial investment but Dyson believes this commitment is crucial for the growth of the company, consumer loyalty and consumer satisfaction.

Dyson | Innovation, research and development