White goods show their true colors…

...and reveiced the Red Dot Award

The introduction of the new colored Constructa special models marks yet another expansion of the BSH Hausgeräte family of products and gets the 2016 Red Dot Award for product design. Last year the ‘Classic 65’ was launched in an exclusive design. And it is already sold out. This year there are four limited-edition ‘Deluxe 100’ models available in an array of colors. The retro look of the washing machines features a front panel in sunny orange, turquoise, or grayish brown. There is also a model with a black and white floral design. The special attraction is the fact that consumers can color in the flowers with permanent markers, making their own unique design.

Teamwork – understanding is good, trust is better

Knowledge, passion, and dedicated employees are needed before an idea can be transformed into products. Alfred Bierhoff closely followed the introduction of the product at thyssenkrupp’s steel manufacturer over many years. “The first prototypes were available in 2010,” explains the technical customer service associate from Siegen-Kreuztal, Germany. “You must never give up and you need to continually show customers new possibilities. My job is to recognize difficulties and find solutions.” This also requires the right material from thyssenkrupp, which is called pladur® Aesthetic Print. Because one thing is an absolute must in a household appliance: “It needs to have an absolutely perfect surface,” states Mr. Bierhoff. Teamwork is decisive here: in interactions with the customer, the supplier, and with one another. He adds, “Mutual trust, which is a product of long years of cooperation, has helped greatly. Of course we have had tricky situations, which makes it all the more important to stay in close touch.”

The critical stage was achieved around two years ago, and gave rise to a partnership with another company: a thermal sublimation printing company. The color and design are produced in the material by the thermal sublimation method. It enables a high level of color saturation and definition, and it is an important feature of pladur® Aesthetic Print. There needed to be a massive transfer of know-how from all involved for this project to be successful. Together, it was possible to develop a premium product that can be used for washing machines and other appliances.

Interior design – washing with a personal touch

In terms of visual appearance, these products have long been termed ‘white goods,’ because refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers are predominately white. Robert Winter is in charge of global steel purchasing at BSH and also makes sure that all locations have the specific materials they need. “Of course, there are also high-quality stainless-steel appliances, products with a laminated stainless steel design, and special metallic-look designs,” he says.

Axel Pohl, who is in charge of all of thyssenkrupp Steel’s organic coil-coated pladur® products and sales to the appliances industry, agrees. “For years, our two companies have been closely cooperating on R&D projects. We are no longer just an important partner for white painted products. We are also the point of first contact when it comes to high-quality and premium niche products.”

The sheet needs to be easy to process. Sascha Haas adds, “Minimal machine downtimes and rejects are also important aspects.” Mr. Haas is Head of Research and Development in the textile care plant in Nauen, and he is a staunch supporter of implementing and using the pladur® Aesthetic Print product. He explains, “It’s a great pleasure for us to be able to manufacture appliances with a unique look. The development of this innovation is in part due to the dedication of our employees.”

From Berlin into the wide world: R&D site

It takes continuous research and development work to constantly adapt to changing customer needs. BSH has operated a special laundry technology center in Berlin for all of the company’s brands since 2011. There, developers work on country-specific designs for textile care appliances that implement new features, work efficiently, and save natural resources, in addition to quality management and global IT operations. Martina Wöbkemeier, Head of Materials Technology in Berlin, explains, “Consumers prefer to wash more at lower temperatures in Asia and the U.S.

And for India, we sell appliances that include a special laundry program for saris.” In addition, people in Asia demand appliances that work silently. “Building space is limited so appliances are located in living spaces. It means the vibrations cannot be transferred outward.” The expert calls this high-quality sound design.

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