How Dyson gets air to move at 430mph

Dyson's new Airblade Tap may be an interesting new launch for the company, but what sets it (and the new second-generation version of the original Airblade) apart is the motor.

This just isn't any motor though – it has to be strong enough to force air through small outlets at an incredible 430mph. And that means some serious work has to go into this unit, called the V4.

Dyson has over 100 engineers in its in-house motor team and has spent an incredible £100m researching and developing its digital motors over the past 15 years.

The company invests £10m a year into motor R&D. The latest motor is the result of seven years of long haul development, and Dyson estimates that it cost £26.9 million to get it ready for market.

The Dyson digital motor V4 is a brushless DC motor – with a lot of on-demand power. Brushless motors can offer great amounts of torque per watt and reduce wear and tear.

The most incredible thing is the speed it can reach, going from 0-90,000rpm in less than 0.7 seconds. That's some cold start! The V4 does it by using super-efficient bonded magnets encased in a carbon fibre sleeve. Dyson says the new motor is also one of the world's smallest, fully integrated 1600W motors – as you can see from our pictures, you can easily fit it into one hand.

Chris Osborn, Head of Dyson's Airblade Engineering, says that the motor has been designed to emit a low level of noise. "It's around 85db. We have an acoustic engineering team of around 20 people [working on that].

"The important thing is [the V4] was developed by our engineers, in our labs. Our motors team is slightly separate from our product development teams. It's a very power dense motor, specifically engineered for high pressure, high flow. That gives us the high velocity air that's ideal for hand drying applications."

Osborn continues: "We've integrated the electronics, so everything you want is now packed inside the 85mm shell. It has an onboard microprocessor, so it's constantly controlling the voltage and power efficiency over 6,000 times a second.

"It means that in installations where voltages vary, in various different territories, you'll always get the same performance. That combination of motor power and airflow technology is what gives us our efficient way of drying hands."

"It's very different to our competitors. They have slow moving, warm columns of bacteria-filled air which can be very slow [to dry your hands]. They also use power-hungry heating elements which are inefficient. Our hand dryers, over their life, produce around 67 per cent less CO2."

Although the products are designed at Dyson's HQ in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, UK, Dyson's motors are built in the company's high-tech £20m motor factory in Singapore. The facility produces 50,000 motors a week and covers a whopping area of over 36,000 square feet.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.