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Solving everyday problems

For James Dyson, frustration is the mother of invention. The creator of the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner highlights his new products and expansion plans.

Solving everyday problems


May 6th, 2011

Launched recently in Singapore, the new Dyson Digital Slim lays claim to being the most powerful cordless vacuum cleaner around.

It is powered by the Dyson digital motor – developed and manufactured in Singapore – which performs 3 times faster than conventional motors.


The Digital Slim’s 66cm wand converts it from handheld to slim vacuum cleaner.

“Our digital motor has taken over 10 years to develop. Because of its speed – it spins 5 times faster than a Formula 1 car engine – it can be smaller, stronger and efficient,” says Dyson’s founder, James Dyson.

The Digital Slim resolves the issue of fine dust sticking to a hard floor due to static that can build up during vacuuming. This is done by using carbon fibre bristles with anti static properties.


Exploded view of the Dyson digital motor.


Digital Slim’s carbon fibre floor tool

James, who grew up in Norfolk, England, is famously known for having created the first bagless vacuum cleaner – when he got frustrated over the lose of suction in his own top-of-the-line cleaning machines back in 1979. It was a chance visit to a sawmill that inspired James to design a smaller version of an industrial cyclone mechanism into the vacuum.


Also just launched, the DC34 utilises Dyson’s digital motor and has twice the suction power of any other handheld. Meant for small cleaning tasks.

That was only the start of a long battle. Even though his cardboard prototype worked better than his old bag machine, it took numerous rejections from large corporations before the idea was accepted for production by Japanese company Apex Inc who produced the first version – the G-Force.

Its success helped James launch his very first Dyson vacuum in the UK where it became a bestseller in 18 months. All in all, it was a 15-year journey involving 5,127 prototypes!


Dyson’s recent innovation, the Air Multiplier, is the world’s first domestic bladeless fan.

“Thomas Edison said that success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” says James.

“Your first solution to a problem is never the best one so regular engineering reviews allow us to discuss and improve ideas as a team.”

James also enjoys working with young graduate engineers whom he describes as ” unafraid to experiment with new approaches”. The James Dyson Award, now open for entries, is asking university students and new graduates to ’design something that solves a problem’.

Initial product concepts come out from the RDD headquarters in the UK which then get further development and produced in the RDD facilities in Singapore and Malaysia.

“We recently announced that we’re doubling the team of engineers in the UK. We have ideas we’re anxious to get started on. Doubling the team in the UK means growing the team in our research, design and development facilities in Singapore and Malaysia also. Our best ideas are the ones we haven’t had yet,” says James.


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