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Design Engineer Sam Burrowes Explains the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer professional edition

Dyson Advanced Design Engineer Sam Burrowes visited Australia to check in with hairdressers currently using and loving the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer professional edition. Here he takes us behind the engineering process and tells us why that feedback resonates with him so much.

Since 2014, Sam has thrown himself into the extensive research and tests carried out by Dyson’s engineering team, becoming a core figure in the personal care category and the development of the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer. Launched in 2016, its professional edition, the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer professional edition debuted this year. As he explains, the process in making these revolutionary tools is often simple problem solving.

“We were asked by James Dyson to find problems in different industries and come up with ways to solve them, so we looked at problems in different industries and haircare really stuck out because there were quite a few problems we were confident we could solve with our machines,” Sam explained. “We looked at things like the science of hair and trying to reduce the damage done to hair caused by extreme heat, because that was something that hadn’t really changed in 50 years. Some conventional hair dryers up until that point were drying hair using extreme heat that could lead to hair damage such as dull, dry hair that starts to split.”

The team also looked at making their machine lighter, quieter and more evenly balanced. Dyson also needed to power the machine with the patented Dyson V9 digital motor. It is fast and small enough to be positioned in the handle rather than the head, engineered for balance. This strategic thinking was part of four to five years of development where Dyson invested £75 million that included building bespoke, state of the art Hair Laboratories to research, design and develop future personal care technology.

Once Dyson launched the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer, as with any piece of technology, Dyson engineers are never satisfied. So Sam and his team listened to the hairdressing industry to continue to find improvements and problem solve.

“Nothing’s ever really finished, even when you think it’s finished, someone will always find something that can be improved, which is how the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer professional edition came about,” he said. “We received feedback from hairdressers who were using the machine about the professional concentrator saying it locks up a little bit, and the attachments fall off when they hit them in salon, so we took that all on board and knew that we could fix it.” This conversation led to new attachments, increased magnet strength, an improved filtration system and more in the new professional edition.

Sam worked on these elements as part of a global project, at his location in the UK as well as at Dyson’s Singapore Technology Centre and Malaysian Technology Centre.

“I have an overall role in the development of our machines so I was lucky to work on several core components,” Sam explained. “I’m most proud of being involved in the heating system, like how the product heats up and controls extreme heat, making sure it’s not getting too hot and how we design that system in the machine itself. It’s not particularly easy to do, it’s a careful balance between the patented Dyson V9 digital motor, the power and the heater.”

“The way the heater works is slightly different in that it’s constantly switching itself on and off, and the rate in which it does that is how we adjust temperature,” he continued. “For the professional edition I worked a lot on the new concentrator, which was interesting because I got to watch a lot of stylists from different countries trying 3D printed technology. It was also valuable going into salons to see how stylists are using the machine. From there, when you start looking at it like that, design decisions become more apparent in the direction we have to take.”

For Sam, it’s the result of this process that makes the machine’s eventual success so satisfying. Seeing the real world result of his designs and solutions puts everything into focus, showcasing the relevance of the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer professional edition in today’s hairdressing market.

“It’s always really nice to hear from people actually using the products, because it’s easy for us in the design and engineering department to still see it as a prototype or a project rather than a product,” Sam said. “The hairdressers seem to love the new attachments and they’re a lot more confident with the new filter.”

“We love hearing stories and scenarios for how people are using the machine,” he continued. “I’m glad so many people seem to be using it. Australia in particular has been interesting as before we launched the professional edition, we did this big worldwide user trial, and half of all the stylists we used were in Australia, so it’s been nice to hear from Australian stylists because we worked with them so closely in developing the product and they played such a big part. We’re talking about nearly 200 stylists in Australia alone, so it’s great being here in Australia to hear from them.”

Sam is now taking his expertise to Dyson in Japan, once again utilising his skills in problem solving. Next time you have your lighter, quieter, more balanced tool in hand, pay him a thought.

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