Friday 24 March 2023

Polymer Selection Funnel Example - Vacuum Cleaner Canister and Canister Holding (Example Electronics Consumer Goods)

Polymer Selection Funnel Example - Vacuum Cleaner Canister and Canister Holding

Hello and welcome to another polymer materials selection example using the Polymer Funnel methodology. In this post we discuss the selection of a vacuum cleaner housing. Figure 1 presents the four different stages of the material selection funnel and this overview serves us as a guideline.

Figure 1: Polymer Selection Funnel - overview of the four different funnel stages 

Global Electronics Consumer Goods Market

The global electronics consumer goods market has a predicted growth rate of around 6% CAGR till 2030 and can be split into four major segments: 

Household appliances are the largest segment. Leading polymers are Polyolefins (PE, PP), Polystyrene PS, Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene ABS, Polycarbonate PC, Polyvinyl Chloride PVC, Polyamide PA, and Poly(methyl methacrylate) PMMA. 

Polymer material selection for vacuum cleaner canister with canister holding

Figure 2 shows a bagless canister vacuum cleaner. The transparent canister is attached to the upper holding element allowing for easy removal and cleaning. Task is to select the optimal material for the canister and the holding element. 

Figure 2: Example of a vacuum cleaner with transparent canister and canister holding

Funnel stage 1: Material selection factors

In Funnel stage 1 we assess the canister and holding requirements:

  • Good Surface Quality & Paintability and high surface gloss

  • Scratch Resistance

  • Colorability for housing parts

  • High flowability, 

  • Dimensional stability, 

  • Good heat resistance

  • Thin wall capability (reduction of material usage and part weight ->> easy handling)

  • Impact behavior

  • Recyclability

The canister itself needs to be transparent, allowing to check the dust filling level. The holding element requires no transparency. 

Table 1 summarizes the important requirement information with quantitative and qualitative values (requirement worksheet).

Table 1: Requirement worksheet for the vacuum cleaner parts.

Funnel stage 2: Decision on thermoplastic or thermoset

In Funnel stage 2 we decide between the thermoplastic and thermoset material route. Transparency and flowability can be fulfilled by both classes, however thin wall stability with good impact behavior and recyclability is better achieved by thermoplastics. Therefore, a first material screening is done and grades for both parts are summarized in Table 2. 

Table 2:  Overview preselected grades and their commercial suppliers.

Funnel stage 3: Selection discussion with worksheet (qualitative matrix analysis)

Now we reached the core element of the Polymer Selection Funnel: the selection discussion by using qualitative matrix analysis. In the first step we take the requirements from Table 1 and insert them on the top of the matrix table. This is followed by giving them a priority number (0= low priority; 5= high priority). After this we add the materials from Table 2 followed by a ranking of each material for each requirement (how good can this requirement be fulfilled? 5= perfect). Then we multiply each requirement priority number with the fulfillment number and add them up. In the end we have on the right side a ranking of the selected materials. In our case, for the canister holding part,  ABS (118HF) has the highest number (85), followed by ABS (LX-0951) with 81. for the transparent canister itself, transparent ABS reached 80 points and PMMA 76 points. They are close to each other and for Funnel stage 4, both can be tested. The same is valid for the canister holding part. ABS (118HF) and ABS (LX-0951) can be tested. 

Table 3: Qualitative matrix analysis for canister holding part
Table 3: Qualitative matrix analysis for the canister

Funnel stage 4: Testing, selection of material and vendor

We reached the final Funnel stage and started with material evaluations, followed by producing prototypes for functional tests. After completion of all tests, the final decision can be done. In our case, ABS (118HF) was selected for the canister holding part and transparent ABS (LX-0951) for the canister itself. 

Check out more polymer material selection examples: baby bottles and plumbing water pipes.

Thanks for reading and #findoutaboutplastics

Greetings Herwig

Herwig Juster

Interested to talk with me about your polymer material selection, sustainability, and part design needs - here you can contact me 

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