THE KETTLE, a water boiler concept made of BASF’s engineering plastic Ultrason®, was recently awarded the Design Plus prize by the German Design Council and by the Frankfurt Trade Fair. BASF received this renowned prize at Material Vision, a trade fair and conference on materials for product development, design and architecture held in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Awards were given to 30 products that stand out for their combination of innovative material, successful design and intelligent function. The jury of experts made its selections from among 175 submissions from 20 countries. The German Design Council was created as a design competence center in 1953 as an initiative of the German Parliament.
This water boiler, which heats up water by induction, is a prototype stemming from BASF’s “Heat” project. The concept comprises unconventional design ideas for household products with new shapes, thanks to the high-temperature resistant and transparent Ultrason. Consequently, the prize-winning prototype of such a water boiler no longer needs a handle as it can be touched – even when the contents are hot – without the risk of causing burns. Through its transparency, which affords a clear view of the boiling water, the device looks more like a decanter than like a traditional water boiler.
Ultrason is a material that is particularly well-suited for use at temperatures of up to 220°C [428°F] and it also exhibits good electric insulation capacity. In order to showcase the innovation potential of this plastic, the engineering plastics experts at BASF blazed new trails in product communications. They commissioned the Ideo agency in Munich with the task of finding ideas for new Ultrason applications in the household realm that would underscore the temperature resistance of this plastic.
Ideo, a well-known wellspring of ideas, had come up with products like the hand-held computer Palm V and the Apple mouse. “With this novel approach, we would like to introduce the capabilities of the Ultrason plastic to a broad audience,” explains Nicolas Inchaurrondo of Marketing Ultrason. “In particular, this is how we aim to familiarize industrial designers and product developers with the application possibilities that exist for this material.” At the same time, final customers should also become interested in products made of this BASF plastic.
Aside from the water boiler, the Ideo design team also developed four other prototypes of novel household products that are especially heat-resistant: a hair dryer without a handle, a light bulb that works without a fitting, a heated clothes hanger and a virtually transparent toaster that can be folded shut like a book. These prototypes are featured in the eye-catching picture book titled “Heat”. This communication concept already earned BASF the iF Communication Design Award of the International Design Forum in Hannover, Germany. Moreover, the project was nominated for the Index Award, which is granted every two years by the Danish organization for design, Index.
The high-performance plastics of the Ultrason brand, whose chemical composition is polyethersulfone and polysulfone (PESU, PSU) and, as of recently, also polyphenylsulfone (PPSU), are employed primarily for reflectors in the headlights of cars, in the coolant and oil circulation systems of engines, in numerous electrical applications as well as in aviation and for microwave dishes. They stand out not only for their temperature resistance, but also for their good creep resistance, dimensional stability and low moisture absorption.
With an eye towards tapping into new markets, BASF is increasingly concentrating on the topic of designing with plastics. An integral part of this concept is the designfabrik™, the design factory founded in Ludwigshafen, Germany in May of 2006, where industrial designers can consult with BASF plastic experts and receive advice ranging from the initial idea to the product concept, all the way to color and tool design. An impressive outcome of this is the collaboration with the internationally acclaimed industrial designer Konstantin Grcic who, together with BASF and furniture manufacturer Plank, breathed life into MYTO, a chair he made using the novel, especially easy-flow engineering plastic Ultradur® High Speed.