Redesigning Australia’s best-selling commercial bathroom hand-dryer

There is always an added pressure when we are asked to improve a successful product.  So when Australia’s best-selling manufacturer of bathroom hand-dryers JD MacDonald wanted to update their principal product we knew something special would be needed.

Fortunately, the resultant Autobeam and Touchdry range was an instant sales success with architects and specifiers enthusiastically embracing the new designs on the basis of the range’s aesthetics alone.  More importantly, the new dryers exceed the functionality and specification of major competitors from Europe and the US providing a unique and tangible competitive advantage.

Through user insights Cobalt identified and improved several irritations everyday users (all of us) have with these ubiquitous devices. The approach resulted in making the nozzle strikingly obvious, adjusting sensor orientation so that the dryer activated when hands are within the air flow, and improved internal aerodynamics to increase warm air velocity.


  • Contemporary and curvaceous aluminium die-cast casing
  • Upgraded water resistance to IPX3, the highest rating of any comparable hand-dryer
  • Improved ergonomics and ease of use
  • Aerodynamically designed nozzle for better air-flow & faster drying
  • Dual nozzle settings, fixed and swivel


  • First year sales increase of more than 50% over previous model
  • Higher price margin especially on high-end models
  • Inventory reduction


  • Industrial Design
  • Product Engineering
  • Prototyping
  • Die-cast tooling management and part reviews
  • Steve Martinuzzo
  • David Lockwood
  • Shannon Smith
  • Stewart Marshall

Designed for heavy-duty use and vandal prone sites

The project introduced a number of manufacturing and installation benefits, which provided inventory flexibility and better acceptance from installers. The improved nozzle can be changed from ‘fixed’ to ‘swivel’ at installation- previously this needed to be specified at the manufacturing stage. The biggest technical advance was the increased level of water ingress protection, allowing the units to withstand hosing-down for cleaning and maintenance.

The commercial, functional and strategic outcome of the product development is a clear example of ‘design led’ benefits. Notably, the new dryers excel on performance and specification of other major European and U.S competitors, providing a competitive advantage with a sales increase of more than 50% over previous models.

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