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Drum Paddles Drum Paddles


  • Failure mode Poor quality materials and weak fixing can cause failure of paddles.
  • Durability feature Use strong materials and securely fixed/built in paddles.
  • Cost

Good practices

  • Good practicesCompliance with test standards
  • Good practicesStrong and durable polymers used
  • Good practicesScrewed or bolted attachment
  • Good practicesBuilt-in as part of the steel drum
  • Good practicesDocumented quality control

Bad practices

  • Bad practicesNo testing of paddles and their attachment
  • Bad practicesThin or weak plastics
  • Bad practicesRiveted or clip attachments
  • Bad practicesNo documented quality control

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

  • A common fault with some washing machines concerns the paddles inside the drum.
  • These can be made of weak materials and/or poorly fixed, dropping off after a period of machine use, leading to dissatisfaction and returns. 

Later in lifetime

  • Misuse, for example by placing shoes in the washing machine, can also cause damage to paddles.
  • While often quite simple to replace, this can be prevented rather than providing spare parts. 

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.

Drum paddles to be made of a strong polymer (e.g. ABS); screw head accessible; specified for 1,300 wash cycles

  • Quality control procedures to be in place and documented for the paddles as fitted in the completed machine as per requirements below. 
  • Drum paddles to be made of a strong polymer (e.g. ABS rather than TFPP) and of adequate thickness and strength to prevent damage in normal use.
  • Drum paddles to be securely fixed to the drum, for example using screws and bolts (with self-locking nuts welded on the back of the drum) rather than clip fittings or rivets that can work loose. Stainless steel fastenings to be used.
  • Where paddles are screwed in place, the screw head should be accessible from inside the drum.
  • Spare paddles to be readily available in the UK for at least 5 years after the machine is last manufactured.
  • Paddles to remain securely fixed and undamaged after 1,300 wash cycles * 

Paddles securely fixed to drum; specified to 1,800 cycles

  • Paddles to remain securely fixed and undamaged after 1,800 wash cycles  

Paddles integral part of steel drum; specified to 2,300 cycles

  • Paddles to remain securely fixed and undamaged after 2,300 wash cycles  

Testing to demonstrate performance

Look at how the paddles are attached. Look for loose paddles or any movement when force applied.

Ask for clear evidence of requirements listed above, e.g.: technical specifications, drawings, photographs; test data (ideally from an independent test house), quality control data.

* Drum paddles and attachment to the drum on 10 randomly selected production machines, to be tested without loosening, separation, cracking 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 mixed clothing load of 50% of the maximum weight and to encompass the highest spin speed. Details of the actual test method is to be declared. 

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).



Specifying a stronger polymer for paddles

The use of a stronger polymer (e.g. ABS) should add only a few pence or tens of pence to the unit cost assuming no (or minimal) tooling change is required. 

Low cost

Use of screws and bolts to retain plastic paddles

Surface mount and conformal coatings will increase life and reliability of PCBs.

High cost

Drum paddles integral to steel drum pressing

Changing the profile of the steel drum may require new tooling if an off the shelf option isn’t available. If all tooling needs replacing this can be a high unit cost, depending on the quantities being produced.