18 April 2022
In 2021, the international jury of the 14th Grands Prix du Design recognized Tero as Gold winner in three industrial design categories—Consumer Goods, Kitchen & Bathroom Products, and Consumer Electronics. In fact, since their beginning, design awards follow one another for Tero, whose new organic waste recycling solution inspires people to take action for the environment.
Tero and Creaform Engineering met during a fortunate networking event. Seeing the product’s potential, and being in line with Tero’s mission, Creaform’s experienced industrial design team offered to contribute and push the development even further.
But Creaform’s involvement was not going to stop with industrial design; soon, expertise in mechanical, electrical, and electronics engineering would also be needed to conceive this revolutionary alternative to composting.
The First Tasks
Creaform Engineering started to assist Tero early in their development process. The first task for the industrial designers and product development professionals was to set the device’s shape with a vision to make the product’s manufacturing straightforward and efficient.
The golden rule for industrial design at Creaform Engineering has always been to respect the client’s intentions while bringing ideas in terms of volume, shape, and lines. Given the two blade holders fitted inside the grinding bucket, Creaform’s industrial designers adopted and confirmed the client’s choice for the oblong shape, which Tero’s product designers had already favored and selected. This shape remained the master element through the various subsequent versions.
From Tero’s initial design intentions, Creaform’s industrial designers drew and proposed hundreds of sketches. All of these designs had slight differences, such as in the height of the lid, the fluidity and roundness of the arc and curves, and the position and size of the buttons. In short, the complete device aesthetics were meticulously scrutinized to find the most attractive design for a countertop appliance.
The lock button alone required several iterations, as both the aesthetic detail and functional side had to coexist. The industrial designers had to find the right contour that would perfectly encapsulate the pure design of the device while ensuring a hermetic mechanism to lock the cover and seal in food residues.
Carbon to Eliminate Odors
As odor filtration proved to be a crucial issue during bench testing, Creaform Engineering had to address this concern carefully to make sure users would not smell unpleasant odors when switching on their Tero product. The team conducted research to learn how to integrate such a filter into the device in order to eliminate odors and, thus, enable Tero to build a quality product.
Marriage of Engineering and Design
Since Creaform Engineering hosts both industrial designers and engineers, it was easy for the teams to communicate their progress and achievements. Engineers, who were working on the mechanical, electrical, and electronic aspects of the project, could determine whether or not a sketch would provide enough space to properly house components or position wires. They could also see when a button had to be shifted to a more accurate location.
Research conducted on carbon, added to computational fluid dynamics (CFD), also impacted the position of the filter, which was located on the side of the bucket in the first test benches. Based on Tero’s ideas that were validated with Creaform’s work and simulations, the oblong shape was kept because it offered a lot of space to house the components. However, the filter was moved to the top of the device to provide maximum performance.
By simulating the fan movement according to its power and position, engineers modeled the airflow inside the device. This way, they were able to find the required speed to go through the blades and the mixture, and then out the filter. The airflow had to be smooth, even, and constant so that all particles could pass through the filter at the same speed to be trapped in carbon. They also decided to heat up the airflow to wick away moisture more quickly. All of this was calculated thanks to CFD.
The Tero device produces fertilizer from food waste thanks to innovative technologies. A powerful motor drives eight sharp blades to crush the food residues and grind the difficult debris, including avocado pits and corn cobs. Intelligent sensors are integrated into the device to detect and regulate humidity in order to automatically run the transformation cycle. Finally, a patented heat technology kills pathogens from food while leaving the fertilizer rich with nutrients, making it possible to deposit meat in the Tero device without any risk.
These operations enable users to obtain a dehydrated mixture having lost 90% of its volume, which can be used as dry, natural, and nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants, lawns, and gardens.
Choosing the Right Engine and Finding the Right Supplier
The most important challenge for the mechanical engineering team was to find the right motor with the right speed and the right torque to fulfill all the desired functions. With safety concerns in mind, they also had to choose between a direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) engine. For this question, they teamed up with the electrical engineering team to make the right choice. Last but not least, they needed to find a supplier capable of producing this central part in large quantities for a long period, which was easier said than done.
Looking for the Best Plastic Resin
Finally, Creaform’s material experts looked for the best resin that could withstand mechanical shocks and temperature variations. The chosen formula also had to maintain a uniform color, both in white and black, without yellowing under daylight. Thus, a selection had to be made between different resins. The chosen resin had to meet the UL standards in terms of mechanical, electrical, and temperature criteria, and be perfectly reproducible and easily recyclable to match Tero’s environmental values.
A Product That Fulfills Its Mission
All of these efforts resulted in a new kitchen appliance that elegantly combines design and engineering while meeting strict health and safety standards. In addition, Tero is a product designed and manufactured in Quebec with local suppliers to limit transportation and CO2 emissions.
In short, the Tero product is synonymous with ecological innovation, inspiring success, and local pride. As the first units are being shipped to thousands of enthusiastic users, Creaform Engineering hopes that the Tero story will stimulate other entrepreneurs and designers to develop their own ingenious products.