Lack of time for domestic chores was what provided the motivation for the architect Célia Jaber de Oliveira to build, with the help of her brother Lupércio Jaber de Oliveira, a mechanical technician, a machine that irons clothes. The household invention, made to be used at home, was so very successful that she sought the support of the Technology Based Companies Incubator Center (Cietec) and the Polytechnic School of the University of Sao Paulo (Poli-USP) to transform the “gadget” into Agillisa, an appliance irons up to 12 pieces of clothing in around an hour. During 2001 the project became part of the Cietec program and transformed itself into the company named Coll Projetos. Five years later the company was installed in the town of Guarulhos, Greater Sao Paulo, and is now preparing to begin the commercialization of its product.
Before initiating the studies for the manufacture of the electro-domestic machine, in 1997 the architect requested a research survey to know if there would be a demand for the product. Based on an and the application of questionnaires to 200 people, it was discovered that 97% of those interviewed did not like ironing clothes and that the machine had an acceptance level of 84%. In 1999 architect Célia managed to register a patent for her invention.
In order to iron the clothes, the electro-domestic machine releases steam that loosens the fibers and makes the pieces of clothing lightly humid and soft. With a later cycle of hot air this humidity is eliminated. “It worked very well. All of those who saw the machine at home wanted to have one. From this point on that we thought about transforming the apparatus into a product for the market”, explains Célia. However, the machine then still worked in a manner that was very empirical, although the results were satisfactory. “As the invention is pioneering, there’s very little literature about the question. The main academic contribution was that of establishing a scientific basis for an understanding of all of the process, improving its trustworthiness and its efficiency”, explains the mechanical engineer Nicola Getschko, a professor at the Poli-USP and the coordinator of the project financed by FAPESP through the Small Business Innovation Research (PIPE) program. “The prototype ironed clothes, but it didn’t have a beautiful design and was in need of an automatic control. One had to look to find out when the job had been completed”, adds Célia.
With the improvement, the machine acquired an automatic control system. Whilst the machine irons clothes, there is time for other activities without worrying about the possibility of the clothes being burned or stained. For the more complicated parts, such as the collars and sleeve cuffs, the machine comes with devices that are applied in these regions and which facilitate the ironing. The electrical energy economy is around 50% when compared with a conventional iron for the same quantity of clothes. Célia explained that the team also took a long time attempting to make the product cheaper by way of the substitution of materials. Even at that, the price for the launch of the Agillisa is R$3,500.00.
After the technical improvements, in March of 2006 the company carried out another market research study and verified that 89% of the 100 potential consumers who had viewed the machine working (80 women and 20 men) would like to have purchased the machine. “The natural thing, with the passing of time, is that the product will become cheaper and reach a greater section of the market”, forecasts Célia.
Automatic clothes ironing (nº 04/10378-1); Modality Small Business Innovation Research (PIPE) Program Coordinator Nicola Getschko – USP/Coll; Investment R$ 211,144.00 (FAPESP)