Cool solution puts essential finishing touch to new refrigeration range

The requirement
In refrigeration, one name has always led the way. Foster Refrigerator, the UK market leader, manufactures a wide range of award-winning commercial fridges and commercial freezers for the foodservice, bakery and retail industries.

And when the company was in the final stages of producing its brand new range of EcoPro G2 cabinets, it turned to Diametric to provide the essential finishing touch – the membrane switch assemblies carrying its brand name.

The EcoPro G2 range had a heavy focus on reducing carbon emissions, being cost effective and of the highest quality, right from the design and manufacture stage through to recycling.

With this in mind, Diametric was tasked with creating new membrane switch assemblies, along with revamped logo labels, to be used as control units for each of the range’s six products.

Foster Refrigerator provided Diametric with the ‘look’ that it required for the products and it was down to Diametric’s manufacturing team to achieve the appearance, along with functionality and durability, in the most cost-effective way.

Technologically advanced
The controller system on the G2 range is perhaps one of the most technologically-advanced in Fosters’ history. Featuring a ‘smartphone style’ touch sensitive, hidden-until-lit control panel, it keeps the screen flat and free of visual clutter, combining sophistication and functionality.

This meant Diametric’s design of the switch layers on the circuit had to follow the outline of the shape, allowing people to view the icons behind the membrane.

In addition, Foster Refrigerator wanted to make the temperature display easy to read even from a distance so Diametric’s solution had to complement this and the high visibility bright white PMV (Passive Matrix Vertical Alignment).

Diametric prototyped six different combinations of materials and finishes, including polyester and polycarbonate in various different thicknesses and surface textures.

The solution
Through extensive testing and consultation with Foster Refrigerator the recommendation was made by Diametric to create an injection moulded ‘carrier tray’ to support and strengthen the membrane, complete with adhesive to the rear. This would ensure that the end product delivered the perfect look and feel while retaining the full functionality of the switches and impeccable viewability of the display window.

The injection moulded carrier was created by injecting pressurised ABS thermoplastic into a female form tool, creating the badge’s 3D shape and texture. A recess was required in order for the overlay to drop into it perfectly. In addition, location spigots were incorporated into the design, making the carrier more durable and easier to apply to the refrigerator units with ultimate precision every time.

One of the key factors in the carrier’s design was the rugged environment in which it would be. Foster Refrigerator’s products are found in kitchens across the UK and the world, where they are used constantly by busy catering staff. As a result, the complete assembly was required to be durable and able to withstand heavy usage. A selective lacquer was applied to ensure durability and make the membrane surface mark resistant. In addition, an injection moulded plinth added protection to the overlay and the edged border ensured the overlay underneath would remain safe and dry, even if liquid were sprayed onto the front of the unit.

Diametric’s design and manufacturing team supplied samples to Foster and worked closely with the product design team to a tight launch deadline to deliver the panels on time and on budget.

The legacy
Pete Knight, Managing Director of Diametric, said: “We have worked with Foster for many years but this is without doubt one of the most exciting projects we have undertaken for the company so far. The control panels on the G2 range are phenomenal in terms of technology and while it made our job more challenging, that’s what we liked about it. Knowing that, thanks to the highly-durable solution we have provided, the panels will proudly bear the G2 branding for many years to come makes us very proud.”

Exceeding expectations
A spokesman from Foster Refrigerator, said: “We are extremely happy with the final outcome of our work with Diametric. The team took into account each and every constraint and designed a solution that was tailored to the specific needs of the G2 range.

“Diametric exceeded our expectations not only in providing the best solution but in the way in which the team worked, communicating with us at every stage and making solid recommendations that we could consider.”

Diametric provides high quality industrial badges, nameplates and labels for some of the biggest brands in the UK and worldwide. Its team of experts in design, branding and manufacturing work together to provide the essential finishing touches to products, to any timescale and budget.

With the widest range of processes, from 3D doming to injection moulding, Diametric is able to advise on the best solution for every project and can create bespoke processes to achieve individual aims. In addition to Foster Refrigerator, it counts among its clients the likes of Jaguar Cars, Sunseeker, Naim Audio and Hasselblad.

To find out more visit www.diametric.gb.com.