My vacuum cleaner

I did this last semester. It was a blast for me. So let me explain it a bit. This vacuum cleaner can transform from a canister mode to upright mode as a single unit. There is a vacuum cleaner that was released recently( cannot remember the brand and I can’t seem to find it online) that “transforms” from upright to canister. Well, that is not “transformation”, because it simply splits into two units! You will be paying for 2 units instead, and while using it as canister vac, the other part will just sit there being useless. Therefore, my “Bean Vac” acts as one unit, and transforms as one unit. It’s really a 2 in 1 vac.

The “Bean” name came from nothing but the shape of a bean which inspired the general form. There was a story that led to this but I don’t think it’s worth mentioning here.

So I went through a couple of working( articulating) mockups with insulating foam, got 2 of my friends of different percentiles to test them out, and also to prove that the pivoting handle design works better than the conventional ones.

Later, a Rhino mock up model was made and I used that as a general template for my full scale physical model( which articulates like a real one too). A final Rhino model was also built.

Regarding the research, other than finding out how a vac works, I went to various stores to ask the salesman what customers look for and what they complain about. I did that in both Asia( over the break) and in the US. Also, as I was hunting for parts, I learnt more too.

So I’ve managed to squeeze the process to 6 pages. I guess it’s your turn to shoot me.

My initial reason to do such a design is because I hear complains from Asian housewives complaining the heaviness of up rights, and American housewives complaining how weak canisters are. The problem is, none of them actually have used both kind of vacuum cleaner to make those statements! It really all comes down to impression and hear-say. So I want to create something that not only works like either, but also performs like either.

I figured that the user probably will stick to just one mode after trying it out, but at least that gives them the chance to really find out which mode they prefer.

another excellent post. and no responses. :frowning:

for a student project this is pretty nice, cow. good sketches. layout. etc. but you know that. so talk about what’s wrong with this. i see a few things. but what have you learned since? or what would you change now?

Wow-Cow…sorry could not resist that one.

Great work, sketches, form, ideation, and killer model.

Nice work Cow. I dig. Can you give me a rough estimate of the total time you spent on the project? Did you do all of the work yourself or were there others involved? (I’m guessing no since it’s a student proj, but I figured I’d ask anyway).

Thx guys.

Regarding on what I would have done differently… I am very happy with the concept, the way it articulates and how the function goes with the form. However I know I can’t say much about how I resolved the engineering aspect of the project, because I am not an expert in this field. I tried to resolve it so that at least it makes sense. I don’t know how well the air will flow or how the valves will react to it, but I did ask some engineers for advice.

BTW, if you have doubt about how the air flow is directed when in either mode, well let me explain. There are 2 outlets from the vac body itself as you can see, one near the top that goes to the wand, one goes to the attachment for upright mode. The one that goes to the wand is the one that controls the air flow. It means that when I plug it in, the air will be directed to it. When I unplug it, the air will be directed to the attachment.

How much time? Lots… mainly on the foam model. I was the second earliest to start. I made a MDF frame first as a structure for the various pivots like the attachment and the wheels, then cut foam into pieces to fit onto the frame. Just this process took me 2 weeks of an average of 3~5 hours daily in the shop( because I had to wait for the glue to dry each time). Then the sculpting part goes pretty quickly. The surfacing took me another 2~3 weeks to make sure it was perfect… you know, bondo, primer, bondo… Drew a lots of parallel lines to look for dents that you don’t see. So that’s about 7~8 weeks in total. I saved lot’s of money cus I did a favour for my friend who supplied the free foam.

I may sound arrogant but I literally lived in the shop for the second half of the semester. If it wasn’t for the 3M mask, I would have gotten lung cancer by now. Even though I was technically done just 2 hours before the presentation, I was the first to complete the model in my class, which includes 2 layers of top clear coat for the model.

The Rhino model took a lot of time too, mostly to figure out how to construct the surfaces so that they flow perfectly. It’s definitely not ready for CNC, but presents what I want to present.

The biggest thing I’ve learnt from this project is the transformation process from 2D to 3D, especially for a form like this where there isn’t many reference points. It gives me the confidence to take on any model as long as I have the resources to do it.

So if you see any problem, let me know. I can try to explain it if it’s just something that I did not show on the boards. If not, I will swallow them. Thx again!

technical points:

1 ) people like seeing vacuum work. no transparent material to make operation visible. why no window on cover to show operation? [edit: sorry. marketing point here]
2 ) exploded view shows cylinder w support ribs on inside to receive handle. back view CAD shows flat (or external grab). how did you resolve molding issue?
3 ) appears you direct air between dirt trap and outer housing/cover. wont this user-interfaced area get dirty? esp at fast redirects of air. how do you mold this channel? section on inside of cover looks cylindrical. sharp corners would mean more dirt buildup. how did you resolve or how would you?
4 ) air exhaust on wheels can blow the dirt around on the floor. why not make exhaust always away from surface?
5 ) motor/fan assemblies are unbalanced. small diameter motor - big diameter fan. you have one cylinder housing both. isn’t this wasted space? or is there a unique motor/fan you’re using? you have sketch?
6 ) where’s the power cord? and storage for the cord? is this powered by some other source (might have missed in reading)?
7 ) how do attachment brushes work? some on market are belt-driven. some airfan driven. some mechanical-gear driven. don’t understand yours. would these really work well?
8 ) why make attachment in 3 assembled pieces? do wings articulate? is cost not an issue?
9 ) i see a small roller wheel for 3-pt stance. big enough for shag carpet? how is that capture area molded?
10 ) in the cg rendering the hand-grab on back looks organic. but it’s part of housing. the housing is already complex part. probably weak too. how to mold the hand grab? plus the big pipe w ribs. why not separate part to solve this when attachment has so much extra?
11 ) tube handle doesnt seem to extend. didn’t catch note on that. couple drawings looks like it might. but cant tell if you did or didn’t. and if you did, how do you deal with hose attachment high up on tube where the two sleeves would overlap?

style/form comments:

a ) you say “bravery in the cuteness of the design” but form is very familiar. Japanese vacs look similar imo.
b ) i like bean shape but you introduce geometrical shapes on handle grip. of all places! why? sketches look better than CAD. you make the pivot a flat circle. and the handle grip back becomes a square. then you make the button a square. why? if the shape is organic bean why introduce geometrics?
c ) grip seems unexplored. why not fully-articulated loop handle? more than simple 2D pivot and post. other sketches?

being picky. but trying to be thorough. real world issues.

I will try to address the questions:

1.) I think the material usage will be subjected to the design. I wanted a clean design. Sure people want to see how a vac works, but I cannot deny that while trying to give the user what they want, there are things that I will insist. Afterall, we have to make some decisions and take risks. What the user want may not be the best option. I guess designers provide the options, the user take their pick.

2.) The sketch you see was done in the early part of the project. The aim of the sketch was to illustrate the concept for the air flow. I wasn’t thinking about handle at that time. In fact, the handle decision was added much later, so it wasn’t resolved too well.

For the handle, I will imagine the need for sliding blocks. I have limited knowledge on manufacturing so I am not going to try to impress anyone here. Well, any form is possible to manufacture It just comes down to price.

3.) The final decision was to use a bag instead of a hard container, which is what a lot of canister style vac use. You are right about the dirty part.

To resolve it will have to redesign the entire air flow mechanism, which will take more than my little engineering knowledge to achieve. That’s where I need engineers to help me on. Perhaps instead if using molded channels, I can use a hose instead to reduce sharp corners. I can even redesign the bag to reduce the distance from the inlet to the bag.

4.) Almost all of the canister vacs have air vent near the floor. In fact, the hub-vent idea is not original( taken from LG). I personally have not done research on how the out going air will kick up dusts, but I don’t think the pressure will be strong enough to have an significant effect. If not people won’t need to look for more powerful vacs.

5.) Not much research on motors. The sketch was just to show an idea on the airflow. If I had to consider every single part that will go into this vac, and if I can resolve it, I probably will be in engineering instead. Plus, I don’t know exactly all of valve, spring, screw or fasteners that are available for sourcing.

6.) The power source is conventional corded power. Only the handle is battery powered, which commands the unit by infra red remote. No I didn’t show the placement of the cord.

7.) Most of the attachment brushes for canister vac doesn’t have power assisted mechanism. I think most of them don’t even have roller brushes. So mine isn’t power assisted, due to space constrain, and my lack of engineering ability. Would those really work well? I don’t know, never really had a working unit to try it out. I suppose for Asian homes’ hard floors( typically tiles or wood) it will be adequate.

8.) Yes it is supposed to articulate. The sides rotates and folds towards the center. Yes cost is everything but not in school… that’s why we are still here even when they obviously overcharging us for tuition.

9.) The roller is indeed to provide a 3 point stance, assembled from the inside. It is used only in canister mode, and usually when the user pull it by the hose, the vac does the “wheelie” action, thus even on carpet, it shouldn’t pose a big problem. Furthermore, carpet is softer. I am actually more worried about dirt collecting from hard floors like how a mouse ball traps dirt.

10.) A power drill’s handle housing is plastic too, typically 3mm or thicker. The grip is done with dual shot, or double injection as some call it, also commonly found on power tool handles. I don’t quite understand the big pipe part.

11.) Yes the pipe is supposed to extend because when you use it as upright, you have to shorten it accordingly. I didn’t show it on the Rhino model, but I did indicate it on the foam model. The pipes are not of the same diameter. One fits into another, and held together by a twisting fastener.

a) Yes I am Asian and all my life I have used Japanese styled vacs. I see the advantage for the compactness and agility, that’s why I choose to go with that.

b & c) My instructor doubted that too. I personally didn’t, so did my classmates. I thought about loop designs. In fact, that’s what another classmate did for his. Not that I don’t want to do what he already was doing, I just don’t find it easy to place the hand on a loop. On another note, a loop will make the vacuuming action look like walking a dog, which isn’t what I am looking for.

I’m glad to be told of problems to think about. Even though 13 weeks will seem to be impossible to fit every condsideration in, it good to know what I have to know as a professional.

1.) this is usually marketing demand. designers arent always given a choice. its why so many transparents on market.

2.) its common issue. unfortunately results usually aren’t pretty. worth second look. see my comment on #10

3.) but trend in vacs is bagless. :frowning:

4.) “Almost all of the canister vacs have air vent near the floor.” bad m-cow. dont copy mistakes. research reveals the problem (check online consumer comments). plenty of people complain about this. opportunity missed?

5.) “If I had to consider every single part that will go into this vac, and if I can resolve it, I probably will be in engineering instead”. but motor-fan isnt just any part, its the biggest part. you drew little intake valves. next time know the big parts. defensive answer too. relax. gets worse at company meetings.

6.) “No I didn’t show the placement of the cord.” :frowning:

7.) Most of the … doesn’t … So mine isn’t" :frowning: another opportunity missed?

8.) “Yes it is supposed to articulate.” only one doodle indicates this. under Design Exploration. and Exploded View showing brushes makes that undoable (side walls on center top cover prevent upward rotation, no?).

9.) roller just looks small to me. “when the user pull it by the hose” was a different issue i didnt bother with.

10.) “I don’t quite understand the big pipe part.”. was talking on the main body. not the handle. the hand-grab part. this is extension of #2. i would have molded open/shut to get wall-stock ribs and form-fit pipe for handle insertion. then used a second part to hide hole on back and create hand-grab.

11.) “Yes the pipe is supposed to extend …The pipes are not of the same diameter. One fits into another, and held together by a twisting fastener.” this feature is unclear. and my question then was: where is the twist fastener? top or bottom? handle detail sketches look like its up top near hose connector.

a) “that’s why I choose to go with that.” commenting on calling it “brave”. brave would have been a vacuum shaped like a lobster. or a fish. something odd. unconventional. this isn’t bravely different.

b & c) “My instructor doubted that too. I personally didn’t, so did my classmates.” i agree with instructor. Uniformity. Simplicity. Consistency. biggest ID take-away from school instructor. “like walking a dog, which isn’t what I am looking for.” :frowning: ergonomics first. make it look cool after.

dont misunderstand. you did a really nice job. but when you present to a room full of people and they start laughing and pointing things out… a thick skin is good. and no one that knows me volunteers for my crits.

Of course I understand. This is one of those idealistic student projects that I can close my eyes on some issues. I felt strong about the concept and wished to get an opportunity to make it a reality, however I know from the nature of the product, most company won’t even consider… too much cost in R&D, manufacturing and the fact that it may actually reduce the variety of product line means it will kill some sources of revenue. Why would a company want to make a 2 in 1 product when they can get more margin by selling 2 of 1 in 1?

Just want to have fun while I can. I bet you wish you can now too.

wrong. wish i could do more projects like Nike EyeD. your vacuum is regular stuff to me. points i’m making are potential issues. things most students wouldn’t address. issues at a real job. real project.

strength of your student project is that it starts to address real world issues. only downside so far is your defending it.

Cow, I loved the design. I am new to this board and field but your stuff looks great. I am business guy that is an inventor on the side and hoping to improve my designs on the side and your project gives me a great example to draw upon.

YKH, interesting that you seem to think that real world feedback is all negative. Wouldn’t the real world have positive AND negative??? Seems like you just want to prove how much you know.

Cow do you have some of this stuff that you could send me? I am more interested in concept creation/ invention and design management rather than the detailed engineering so your stuff gives me more than enough info. Any tips for a guy just starting out?

Thanks Cow.

“YKH, interesting that you seem to think that real world feedback is all negative. Wouldn’t the real world have positive AND negative???”


for a student project > this is pretty nice> , cow. good sketches. layout. etc. but you know that. > so talk about what’s wrong > with this. i see a few things. but what have you learned since? or what would you change now?

“Seems like you just want to prove how much you know.”

might seem that way. but intention was to show a very talented student there’s more to consider. to not get too comfortable too quickly. i know plenty of good designers who failed after school. not from lack of talent. they just werent prepared for real world. now we can all pat each other on the back and give meaningless praise…


I get it and I think that your commnents were very good and detailed. I guess I was just thinking that he needed a little more balance on pointing out some of the things he did right so that he knows what is “workng”.

All in all, I think it is cool that you spent a lot of time reviewing this for him.



i also communicate via Private Message. whats posted above isnt the whole conversation.

Ykh must be an engineer or some thing as I am one and that s the way his or her brain seems to be working. I am not in the design indstry as yet but I would agree with a half way house the concepts are meant to have all the best and ideal things but as the product is given the go ahead these issues could be resolved. Basically I am saying mad cow has the concepts down pat but In future designs she should think of how her designs work and are going to be made and the pros and cons of each.

I was just cruising through Fry’s and saw this vac:

Did you sell your design to Hoover, Cow?

They won’t be selling ugly ones if I did! :stuck_out_tongue:

Of course… I just assumed that the engineers had their way with your design :frowning:

BTW in your opinion, will this design be way too expensive to engineer and hence manufacture?