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Door seal Door seal

Summary

  • Failure mode Common issues relate to dirt build up, mould and leaks
  • Durability feature Use of clear instructions and anti-bacterial mould technology will reduce failures.
  • Cost

Good practices

  • Good practicesSimple
  • Good practices smooth ‘easy clean’ moulding profile
  • Good practicesDark grey seal to mask marks
  • Good practicesThick rubber with reinforcement
  • Good practicesAnti-bacterial coating
  • Good practicesEasy peel ‘clean me’ sticker

Bad practices

  • Bad practicesComplex mouldings that trap dirt
  • Bad practicesSharp angles/stress concentrations
  • Bad practicesThin rubber sections with inadequate reinforcement
  • Bad practicesRetention band/springs that dig into the rubber
  • Bad practicesPoor cleaning instructions

Key facts

  • Around 40% of washing machines purchased in 2012 were to replace a product under 6 years old.
  • 80% of customers want guarantees of 2 years or longer on major appliances.
  • Design reviews identified cost savings of £550k per 100,000 units could be achieved.
  • Consumer research indicates reliability as the most important product attribute for washing machines.

Icon key

  • Failure mode Failure mode
  • Durability features Durability features
  • Cost saving Cost saving
  • Low cost Low cost
  • Cost neutral Cost neutral
  • High cost High cost

Key failure modes

Early life

Mouldy door seals can lead to machines being returned or disposed of early.

This problem is caused by a combination of factors including: complex seal shape (bellows which trap dirt and are hard to clean), poor cleaning instructions / inadequate cleaning, over-dosing of detergents and low temperature washes.


Later in lifetime

In the longer term the door seal may split or otherwise leak. Door seals are made of silicone rubber which is generally very durable if to the correct specification.

Faults can be caused by inadequate material thickness, stress concentrations and inadequate flex as the drum rotates and vibrates.    


Specification for improved performance

The specification below provides the recommended improvements needed to improve product durability. They are ranked from bronze to gold based on the effectiveness of the change in improving durability, with bronze being the minimum and gold being the maximum.

Door seal dark grey colour; strong, simple ‘smooth’ design (easy cleaning); specified to last 1300 cycles; easy seal replacement

  • Quality control procedures to be in place and documented for seal/fittings as supplied to the washing machine manufacturer and as per characteristics below.
  • Door seal to be dark grey in colour to conceal small mould marks
  • Door seal to maximise strength and to minimise stress concentrations whilst allowing full expected movement as the drum rotates/flexes
  • Door seal to be simple with a smooth internal profile for easy cleaning.
  • Retaining band/tension spring to be without sharp edges so as not to penetrate the surface of the rubber during fitting and normal use. 
  • Seal to be readily available in the UK for at least 5 years after the machine is last manufactured.
  • Seal to be replaceable within ten minutes by a trained technician and without the use of any special tools. 
  • Seal to be specified to last at least 1,300 wash cycles (~5 years) *

Anti-bacterial door seal; specified to last 1,800 cycles

  • Anti-mould / anti-bacterial door seal technology to be fitted.
  • Seal to be specified to last at least 1,800 wash cycles (~7 years) *

Service wash cycle indication; specified to last 2,300 cycles

  • Machine to indicate that a high temperature wash cycle should be initiated after an appropriate number of low temperature wash cycles.
  • Seal to be specified to last at least 2,300 wash cycles (~9 years) *

Testing to demonstrate performance

Look for a smooth door seal profile (good) and any thin/flimsy seal materials (bad) 

Ask for clear evidence of requirements listed above to be provided to the buyer: technical specifications, drawings, photographs; test data / quality control data.

* Seal to be tested on 10 randomly selected production machines, without cracking, separation, leaking or other failure in 100% of cases. Test to be for the full number of test cycles specified, on a 40 degree cotton cycle, with a load of 50% of the maximum weight and to encompass the highest spin speed. Details of the actual test method is to be declared.

Use per week is assumed to be 4.9 times (EU preparatory study LOT 14)  

Cost implications

Improved reliability of components can reduce early returns and improve brand reputation which, in turn, can lower business costs and increase long-term sales.

To calculate overall cost savings for your business, use the WRAP cost/benefit analysis tool (currently in draft form and available on request).

Saving

Neutral

Anti-mould / anti-bacterial door seal
Door seals are relatively cheap and antibacterial coatings are now widely used, hence treated seals should be available at a very low cost. 

‘Easy Peel’ Sticker
High volume printed stickers are typically a few pence per unit and hence should be a very low cost.

Low cost

More durable seal 

A higher specification seal, for example one that has higher material strength and improved durability, is expected to increase the cost by a few tens of pence where a suitable ‘off the shelf’ item is available.

Testing

A simulated test as described, although accelerated, will require test rigs and a significant number of man hours, hence adding cost per unit.   

High cost

More durable seal

Where an existing seal is not available and new tooling is required, this could add further cost depending on the quantities produced.