The DC01 was Dyson’s first vacuum cleaner, and the start of a new era. As James Dyson puts it himself:
“In 1978, I became frustrated with my vacuum cleaner – it quickly clogged with dust, destroying the suction. I set about solving this problem. More than 5,000 prototypes later, I was at last able to launch the DC01, with patented Dyson Dual cyclone technology, the first vacuum cleaner that didn’t lose suction.”
The wheels on the DC01 are made of the thermoplastic polymer TPE. This is a soft synthetic rubber material. They prevent noise, and make the sweeping action smoother. The rubber also had a lot of friction, meaning the vacuum cleaner won’t slide around, which may otherwise result in damage. The part of the DC01 around the cyclone is made of polycarbonate. This is used because it is very hard, strong, and durable, so it will not be damaged by larger objects which may be sucked up and hit the plastic at high speed. It was also used because it can be transparent, and psychological studies have shown that when people can see what they are sucking up, they think they are sucking up more, which is good news for Dyson as it exaggerates the effects of their new cyclone technology. For other parts of the DC01 which need to be strong and sturdy, such as the front bumper, a plastic based on the acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene copolymer (ABS) is used.
The DC01 is almost entirely made by injection moulding. Two half-moulds are pushed together and injected with liquid plastic at a very high pressure. When the plastic cools is it the shape of the mould permanently, and the process is repeated. Injection moulding is used over other plastic forming techniques, such as vacuum forming, because the shape of the mould can be much more intricate, and can include much more detail. Since Dyson produce so many of their products to be shipped worldwide, the fact that each mould costs so much to make doesn’t matter, as it will be used so many times. The ABS plastic is an enhancement to polystyrene plastic, and it’s made by adding a small amount of styrene-butadiene rubber for better impact resistance. Acrylonitrile is also added to the styrene before it is polymerized, for hardening. This means it can be flexible under impact while still being rigid enough to keep the required shape.
Before the Dyson DC01, vacuum cleaners used bags to hold the dust that was sucked up. The outside of the bag acted like a filter, allowing the clean air to go out and trapping the dust inside. The problem with this was that dust deposited on this filter and caused it to clog. This resulted in a loss of suction over time (up to 70%), which meant that dirt was not picked up. Other non-Dyson bagless cleaners used filters separate from bags, which still clogged up in much the same way. Dyson developed technology to stop this happening. By creating a cyclone of air, rather than just a flow, the centrifugal force pushes the dust particles out to the edge, away from the filter. This not only stops loss of suction resulting in a more economical cleaner, but it also expels cleaner air. The discovery of this technology is what pushed Dyson to manufacture the DC01, but there was also market pull. People wanted a vacuum cleaner that sucked everything up in 1 stroke, rather than having to go backwards and forwards over the same patch 3 or 4 times. They also wanted to be able to see the dust that they had sucked, as it gave them a sense of satisfaction and made it look like they’d done a lot of work. This wasn’t possible for bag cleaners.