James Dyson's New Airblade Tap Brings Hand-Drying Air And Water Together

The new device can dry 15 peoples' hands for the cost of a single paper towel. But at over $1,500, will it sell?

From vaccuums to kitchens, via fans and bicycle wheels, Sir James Dyson is the king of engineering design and innovation. And now the British inventor has brought hot air to faucets, cutting down on the need for paper towels. The Airblade Tap is the latest in his stable of hand dryers, a faucet-dryer hybrid, which is covered by 100 patents so far (another 110 are pending)—making the creation similar to in some respects.

This new invention is basically a unit containing a motor, air filter, and sound-silencing equipment alongside air and water pipes fitted below a sink, from which a tap protrudes. Depending on where you place your hands, infrared sensors determine whether you seek wetness or dryness. Stick them in the center beneath the tap, and you get water, move them to the side and you get air—more specifically, cold air that blows at 430mph, which is more than fast enough to dry your mitts. That is to say, it's about the speed, not the heat.

The secret lies in the motor, which uses an electromagnetic field rather than carbon brushes to accelerate from nought to 100,000 rpm in 0.7 seconds, four times the speed of most similar-sized motors. There is, however, a rather large problem. While most hand driers retail for anything between $80 and $125, the Airblade Tap costs around $1,200. Are firms really going to spend that amount on a dryer? Dyson's thinking is that one blast from his invention is five times as efficient as a hot-air dryer, and 15 times more efficient than paper towels, so, eventually you'd save money. Eventually.

Co.Design spoke with Dyson about the Airblade Tap and Blade V, check it out.

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  • David Erbe

    This is a great idea. I design large projects in Macau and the owner had requested wall mounted dryers between each sink. this becomes a nightmare because the dryers blow water all over the sink. Its common to have 6 to 12 sinks in a large public restroom so the bottle neck may not be an issue. This will reduce the cost of paper towels so over a long run should save money.
    Dave, SP Las Vegas

  • Matthew Hancock

    The second cost issue is that since hands are being dried at the sink, it will require additional sinks to counteract the bottleneck.

  • mangochutney

    Dyson's stuff has always been expensive, yet I can't help but be impressed by his engineering  and design skills.
    This is just another of those products that I'd love to have in my future home at some point.