Switzerland is a country where ironing is practiced more than steaming. But in the face of new lifestyles and perceptions, this culturally rooted habit is changing. In collaboration with Laurastar and Les Ateliers du Nord, INOV3 has actively contributed to the design of the first portable pressure-using steamer and purifier. A purifier? Yes, thanks to its temperature of over 100°C, the steam produced by IGGI destroys most bacteria and viruses in a few seconds – including SARS-CoV-2.
It is with great delight that we are sharing with you this beautiful story and this wonderful collaboration that has led to the birth of a new and innovative product: Laurastar IGGI.
Initially, IGGI was conceived as a clothes steamer. The idea was then to propose a portable and ergonomic device allowing users to use it quickly, on a daily basis or on the move. During the project’s development – and in view of the health situation in 2020 – it was suggested that the garment steamer could also act as a purifier for certain viruses and bacteria. Such a process is already in use in hospitals, but no device had so far allowed this to be done in households.
Our industrial designers, mechanical engineers and laboratory technicians have successfully met this new challenge. Thanks to high pressure, high speed and heat of over 100°C, the steam produced by IGGI purifies fabrics from most viruses and bacteria.
The results are there. In addition to efficiently removing wrinkles from clothes, Laurastar IGGI now makes it possible to eradicate the SARS-CoV-2 virus from fabrics in a natural, non-chemical way.
Designing the product started in 2017. During the first few months, industrial designers were working on the design of the product. Later, engineers intervened for the materialization and industrialization of the product.
At the beginning, a simple idea: an efficient, portable and easy to use steamer. The device was still just an idea, but inspiration came through action. At this point, the considerations were therefore not related to its aesthetics or its design; they were rather based on principle. We thought about its ergonomics, the gestures of use, and the way it would be handled (ergonomics).
What is interesting is that we are working on an unprecedented device whose use and function we did not yet fully understand. Then it became real, and it is its rather natural functions that give its visual legitimacy.
Little by little, the magic worked. Thanks to almost daily discussions – facilitated by geographical proximity, thanks to the intervention of the engineers, the skills of each and every one, common thinking, and a shared passion, IGGI took shape and the first prototype was born. So we felt it, we handled it, we touched it, and we realized that we were creating a new kind of gesture that didn’t exist before, a “gesture that pleases”.
During the prototyping phase, concessions had to be made. For example, we moved the cap, which we wanted to fix at the top, so we needed to redesign the shape of the boiler, which was originally perfectly symmetrical. But these are not truly concessions. It is rather the device that takes place in reality, that materializes.
It is a continuous reflection, many steps backwards and leaps forward that allowed the creation of Laurastar IGGI. Alongside ergonomic and practical considerations, technical problems also arose. Because miniaturization, ergonomics and portability come with their share of constraints.
First of all, a recurring problem in fluid mechanics: sputtering water. How can we prevent drops of water from coming out of the nozzle when the user presses the trigger? Usually, on steam generators, a mechanical trap is used to separate condensation and steam. However, the installation of such a system was not possible given the nature of the device. After numerous tests and prototypes, it is finally thanks to a specific geometry and nozzle that we found the solution.
Iggi is a portable system, whose steam is projected under pressure. The device’s safety is therefore paramount: we have ensured it on different levels. First of all, in order to avoid a potential overheating of the device, the components are spaced out so that the outside temperature does not exceed a certain limit. Additionally, electrical safety features as well as mechanical valves ensure that the pressure is released in case of overpressure in the device. Finally, an electronic management system ensures constant and efficient steam quality.
INOV3 is composed of engineers who understand the needs of customers, and the need to have non-technical elements in a product. They understand customer feedback and are able to improve the product. Here, ergonomics, safety and weight were key.
Once the prototype was completed, discussions were held with the supplier to produce the device in large quantities. Here, everything must be extremely precise, because from this “Design Freeze” stage on, it is complicated to make changes to the device.
After an industrialization phase, the parts were assembled and tested at INOV3. Any problems were corrected (materials, part tolerances, etc.). Some final pre-production touch-ups were made.
IGGI was then ready to continue the adventure in the hands of Laurastar and its customers.
Laurastar IGGI is the product of a beautiful collaboration. A technical and human challenge, the excellent result of which has been possible thanks to several factors. First of all, the geographical proximity, thanks to which as everyone was able to manipulate the object during its design, allowing an exchange of ideas and continuous improvement of the prototypes. Secondly, the skills and involvement of each person, without which no product could be created.
INOV3 sincerely thanks all the people involved in this project, as well as the entire INOV3 team for its dedication.
Key stakeholders: Julie Monney (Laurastar), Jean-Luc Denisart (INOV3), Antoine Cahen (Ateliers du Nord), Didier Pont (INOV3), Ali Abbassi (INOV3)