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Tapping in to Scottish talent

Dyson's new miniature basin-mounted hand-dryer is intended to revolutionise global washrooms by cutting down on water mess, space and energy costs.

And it is a product based in the best traditions of Scottish design engineering, its lead developer claims.

Paul Reed, 33, is a graduate of the Glasgow University-Glasgow School of Art MEng in product design engineering.

He led the 120-strong team that developed the Airblade tap over an "intense" three-year period.

He told the Sunday Herald Glasgow's product design course was "quite specific" training for leading Dyson's team of engineers, and remained a key graduate recruitment ground for the £1 billion-revenue Wiltshire-based firm.

"We have doubled the amount of engineers we employ at Malmesbury, and we are well served by the Glasgow and Strathclyde University courses. We tend to go up to degree shows every year. We draw graduates from all the key UK universities but Strathclyde and Glasgow are very strong."

Reed and his team also developed the new wall-mounted Airblade V dryer, a smaller version of its original Airblade dryer, which came out in 2006 and is now installed in 250,000 locations around the world.

The Airblade tap, made in marine-grade stainless steel and costing £1000 a unit, deploys Dyson's patented technology of "scraping" water off wet hands using sheets of air travelling at 430mph to dry hands at the basin, as well as patented noise-cancelling, energy-saving and air-purifying technology.

Dyson, which last grew profits over 30% to £306.3 million in 2011, claims that the new dryer, which takes 12 seconds to dry the hands, will put and end to wet washroom floors, as well ending the drawbacks of paper towels and hot-air dryers.

"We spent £26m developing the motor," Reed said. "It's one of the world's smallest power-dense brushless motors and accelerates to from 0 to 90,000 rpm in 0.7 seconds.

"We are about solving everyday problems and everyday things that annoy us like wet floors, slow dryers and damp hands.

"We're not focused on the look, function is the key thing. Usability and function drive the look of the products."

Dyson holds more than 3000 patents for over 500 inventions, and claims to have spent £68m on research and development in 2010- 2011, a sum slated to grow by 20% each year.

In 2010, Dyson's then managing director, Martin McCourt, attributed his success to a tough Glaswegian upbringing.

He said: "When you're born into a working-class environment you learn quickly about the need for drive and focus – you need a will of iron if you're to succeed."

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