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Washing Machines... Unnecessary Weight...

| On 01, Jan 2010

Message: 1225
Posted by: A Jangbrand
Posted on: Wednesday, 20th February 2008

Having to move my washing machine in order to get it repaired I realized that it contains a massive and heavy “thing” that will keep the mashine (more) stable when tumbling. A thing that only needs to be there when tumbling. So – in TRIZ terms – it should be there when tumbling and not be there when the machine is being transported or repaired.

And my next thought was in direction; “what other resources are available”.  And one resource that always is available close to washing machines is water.

Why not replace that heavy thing with a (system of) container(s) where water going to the machine (or from?) could keep the machine stable? Using water the machine could dynamically add or remove stabililization weight. Or even re-distribute the water between small containers to compensate for laundry distribution…..

We could also let inflow of water get some warming up in that system of containers from the outflow…

And think of all the weight we would not have to transport on the roads (=saving fuel and environment). And how many hurting backs we would save. Not having to lift that extra heavy weight..

Well, I contacted a major washing machine manufacturer and they acknowledged this as a “great idea – but reliability and security” were issues.  

So – Any washing machine engineers out there that could help out developing this idea? Or maybe even knows what kind of problems the manufacturer were thinking of?  I cannot let go of this until someone gives me the definitive “Thats a really bad idea – because….”-response.

(And with some more consideration I guess we could find even better ways of improving the classic washing machine….)

Message: 1226
Posted by: Joe Marotta
Posted on: Wednesday, 20th February 2008

Now this is a fascinating idea-changing from a single system to a more dynamic, adaptive system (sound familiar?).  I agree that reliability <i>might</i> be an issue, depending on your system architecture and the methods you use to implement your design.

Come up with a concept, and maybe talk with an industry consultant, or patent your idea first, and then shop it around.

Message: 1228
Posted by: Ellen Domb
Posted on: Sunday, 24th February 2008

What a great teaching case–you have the classical contradictions:

Weight (of a moving object) improves but Complexity of the system gets worse, which is probably what made the industry critic say that reliability would be a problem, automatically associating complexity with “duration of action” in the classical 39 features of the contradiction matrix.

And it has the patterns of innovation of increasing dynamics and increasing controllability.

And of course your original impulse, to get rid of the problem by using available resources, which is an aspect of improving ideality.

Thanks for a great case that can be used by all kinds of classes.   Now, if you can get the idea sold to a manufacturer, it would be a TRIZ triumph.   


Message: 1238
Posted by: glen
Posted on: Wednesday, 27th February 2008

Great idea.  You should have sought patent advice before talking to the manufacturer.  May not be too late – seek advice now!

Message: 1239
Posted by: Jack Hipple
Posted on: Wednesday, 27th February 2008

What an interesting idea, and as with all TRIZ ideas that first surface, we need to stop the criticism and recognize that “that's a good idea, but…” is just another way of framing a contradiction, not a reason to stop the thinking. This would be a great “open ended” problem for a TRIZ training workshop.

Message: 1240
Posted by: Grant
Posted on: Thursday, 28th February 2008

In New Zealand, the local manufacturer produced a solution to this problem over a decade ago. Instead of gearbox and pulleys a direct drive motor is mounted directly on the end of the tub and the machine has “out of balance” sensors that add water during the start of the spin cycle to redistribute the load.

The consumer benfitted because the machine was lighter and could spin faster. The manufacturer benefitted by reducing complexity and cost and increasing reliability. It would be interesting to know how F&P developed the idea

Message: 1246
Posted by: Meydanli
Posted on: Friday, 7th March 2008

It is indeed a great idea and I am working on it since 10 years. Unfortunately there are several patented solutions and they include nearly every (poosible) kind of application. It is not easy to find a new way “around” them.

So the question arises “if there are so much patents, why don't we see any application of it?” . The answer is again reliability and complexity. Unfortunately not everything works exactly in the same way how it is written on paper. A lot of physical effects should be considered.

Some of the good solutions are from a New Zealand company for their top loader maschines and another one is from a Korean company for front loader maschines.

But never give up to think!

Message: 1250
Posted by: Darshan Divakar
Posted on: Friday, 14th March 2008

Good thought…

Only for horizontal axis maching the issue of balancing weight arises. For a 6kg capacity machine the balancing weight used is above 40 kg.

While going for water jacket  the space is the constraint..

Message: 1256
Posted by: A Jangbrand
Posted on: Tuesday, 18th March 2008

Makes you think….again…

Adding 40 kg to balance 6 kg. According to a brochure from Electrolux their “6kg” machines have a total weight of approximately 65 kg.  40 kg out of 65 kg is rather much…

Considering a more Ideal resolution we need to add counterweight just to balance the uneven distribution of laundry weight. And I doubt that we would need 40kg of counterweight then.

And if we also could use the weight as counterweight we do not have to add anything at all. I know there are machines that “automatically” do things to re-distribute the laundry.  (I believe that my current machine has that capability).  But it seems they are not doing the job good enough. IF we could re-distribute the laundry to be in perfect balance we would not need any counter weight. And any step taken to “better” distribution would remove some counterweight need.

And yes….I have a couple of ideas there. But maybe I shouldn't continue the washing machine saga here….

And we could also consider other ways of getting the water out of the laundry…

Message: 1262
Posted by: A Jangbrand
Posted on: Wednesday, 19th March 2008


This would be my last comment on the washing machines. The reason for me blushing is that when I actually spent some time searching for patents I found a lot of the things I also had considered. Way back in the 1960:s there were patents describing system of small water tanks attached to the drum to balance it. And many other interesting ideas to deal with the unbalanced spinning drum.

Lesson learned and note to self:  Use patent databases (for example) to learn what has already been done/tought…