James Dyson and His Inventions that "Just Work"

James Dyson is famous for his bagless vacuum cleaners, but he has invented other things too.
Christopher McFadden

Sir James Dyson has become something of a household name since the early 1990s. But he is not just a one trick pony. 

James has also made some interesting developments in wheelbarrow technology, fans technology and, even, hand driers. In the following article, we'll take a short look at the man and the products of his brilliant mind.

Prepare to be astounded.


What is James Dyson famous for?

Sir James Dyson is a British industrial designer and inventor who is best known for his Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner. He is also the founder and chief executive of Dyson Limited.

He is also one of the richest men in Britain, thanks in no small part to his pioneering work in bagless vacuum cleaners.

One his of his most famous quotes pretty much sums up his life's work.

"I just want things to work properly." - James Dyson
James Dyson image
Source: Eva Rinaldi / Flickr

He has also received various prestigious awards throughout his life. Some of the most notable include the Prince Phillip Designers Prize and the Lord Looof of Kilgerran Award.

James is also a Fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering and was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2006 New Year's Honors in the UK.

How did James Dyson invent his first vacuum cleaner?

James' work in bagless vacuum cleaners began in the 1970s and early 1980s. He prototyped his first version of the technology in around 1978.

He took his inspiration from some leading brands, like Hoover, that were plagued with getting clogged and losing suction over time. 

To solve the problem, Dyson managed to adopt some technology from the air filter used in his Ballbarrow factory's spray-finishing room.

Five years later his former employer, Rotork, helped fund the first production model, the Cyclon 1000A. This vacuum cleaner was manufactured by Zanussi and was distributed by Kleeneze at the time.

It was extremely expensive, even for the time, and was marketed at over £1000 by today's money. Only 500 units were made and the sales were disappointing.

Just over a decade later, Dyson tried again with the Dyson DC01. This was the first vacuum cleaner sold under the newly forged Dyson brand name and became an instant hit.

Most Popular

Dyson also patented the design, and it had a vastly superior suction power when compared to its competitors at the time. Just like before, it was a lot more expensive than more traditional vacuum cleaners but it was a game changer for the market.

His famous cyclonic vacuum cleaner works on the principle of cyclonic separation. This process allows the device to maintain its sucking power over time unlike many of its contemporaries.

For the introduction of this innovation into his vacuum cleaners, Dyson received a U.S. Patent in 1986 (U.S. Patent 4,593,429 to be precise). 

Very soon after his vacuum cleaner began to make waves in the market, competitors suddenly decided to try to compete. Many, like Hoover, began to market their own versions of bagless vacuum cleaners. 

As his design was still covered by his patent, Dyson was forced to sue Hoover UK for patent infringement and was awarded a princely sum in damages. 

How wealthy is James Dyson?

According to the Times Rich List of 2018, James has a net worth of around £9.5 Billion. This makes him one of the Richest men in the world. 

He is also something of a philanthropist. In 2002, Dyson set up the James Dyson FoundationThe foundation's main aim is to support design and engineering education amongst young aspiring engineers. 

Other notable James Dyson Inventions

James Dyson hasn't just revolutionized the world of vacuum cleaners. Here are three examples of some of his other notable inventions.

1. Ballbarrow was an interesting take on the wheelbarrow

The Ballbarrow was created by James Dyson in around 1974 after seeing traditional wheelbarrows getting stuck in the mud. This inspired him to replace the traditional pneumatic tire with a large plastic ball wheel and hopper.

The Ballbarrow was much stable and lighter than traditional wheelbarrows giving it a distinct advantage on wet, soggy ground. 

It would come to influence future designs of several Dyson vacuum cleaners. Most notably the 2005 Dyson Ball. 

This vacuum cleaner combined elements of his bagless vacuum cleaners and the Ballbarrow ball, to create a truly unique compact version of the cyclone vacuum cleaner. 

2. The Rotork Sea Truck was interesting

James Dyson worked for a British manufacturing company, Rotork, whilst still a student at the Royal College of Art. Just 23-years-old, he was able to design an interesting new design for a boat - the Sea Truck.

It was made entirely out of fiberglass and could carry a load of around 3 tonsIt was used by the military as a landing craft, as well as by the oil and construction industries.

The Sea Truck was a flat-hulled, high-speed watercraft that was able to land without the need for a built harbor or jetty. This made it a very useful craft indeed for amphibious operations.

The Sea Truck proved to be very popular indeed. Throughout its production life, its total sales were somewhere in the order of 500 million pounds. 

3. The Dyson Airblade 

james dyson inventions airblade
Source: Dyson

Dyson has even turned his hand to commercial hand driers. You may very well have used one in a public toilet in recent years.

The Airblade produces a single layer of cool air moving at a speed of 400 mph that dries hands in 10 seconds. This means it uses less electricity than most of its competitors and is said to be more hygienic.

4. The Air Multiplier "Bladeless" Fan

One of Dyson's most recent innovations was the Air Multiplier. This is an ingenious fan than differs from all its contemporaries by being "bladeless". 

It was first introduced in 2009 and offered the only real innovation in fan technology in over 100 years. His patented technology replaces fast-spinning blades and awkward grilles with loop amplifiers.

Whilst it is marketed as "bladeless" this is a little misleading. It does actually have some, but they are hidden inside the pedestal stand. This part of the device draws in several liters of air a second to induce airflow behind and entrain air in front of the main ring. 

This design makes it one of the quietest and most energy efficient fans on the market. But it does come with a hefty price tag compared to less sophisticated solutions. 

It does look cool though. 

message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron