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Build your own dream mixer...

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krob's picture
krob

Build your own dream mixer...

Hey everyone I need your help.  I work for a kitchen appliance manufacturer and we're currently designing a new mixer for the residential/professional user market (similar to the DLX or Bosch Universal). In order to design 'the ultimate mixer' we want to ask you, the experienced/ professional users, what you want in a mixer. We want to meet as many of the consumer needs and wants as possible. I can't think of a better way to do that than to simlply ask what you want. And I can promise we'll listen. Hey if you tell us, we just might be able to design it into our new mixer, then when we're done you can have exactly what you want!  

Thanks in advance for your input! Here are some topics to respond to:

-What is the most important thing you look for when selecting a mixer?

-Is there something you wish a mixer could do, but there doesn't seem to be any mixers on the market that can do it?

-What do you like/dislike about your mixer, or mixers you've used/seen?

-What is the most annoying thing about mixers/ your mixer?

Hopefully this will start a conversation and I can respond with more feedback and questions later. Thank you again!

ishould3's picture
ishould3

-What is the most important thing you look for when selecting a mixer?- a heavy duty motor for mixing bread, how many attachments come with it and how many will I have to buy.

-Is there something you wish a mixer could do, but there doesn't seem to be any mixers on the market that can do it? They tend to be very heavy and clunky, I wish there was a HD portable mixer with style.

-What do you like/dislike about your mixer, or mixers you've used/seen?

I like my 5 qt kitchen aid, the durability and I like the glass bowl that shows measurements. I like having a guard in the inital cost, and not as an attachment. I like cool  dust covers for mixers that match my kitchen since it stays on my counter and collects dust when I am not using it. How about plastic bowl covers for bread making? Also a line of tools to scrape the bowls would be good to get all the dough out with ease.  I would like to see more wild colors and patterns. Like a bread baker's mixer- or a cake decorator's mixer...

-What is the most annoying thing about mixers/ your mixer?- It could be easier to clean, and also more recipes and attachments in the basic mixer. -Noise- Kitchen aid motor too loud, as I watch cooking shows while I knead bread and that is annoying that I can't hear the tv over the mixer. Also when I do demos on tv it's difficult to talk over and the mic picks up the noise.

krob's picture
krob

Great comments! Heavy duty, ease of cleaning, and quiet seem to be important to most people and I definitely agree. Thanks.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

If you've read any of the mixer-related threads on this site, krob, you know that you are in for an avalanche of responses!  Thank you very much for asking, though, because home bread bakers are very frustrated by the performance of some machines.  

My responses are going to be in the context of the KitchenAide mixers, since that is what I have and know.  Others are sure to chime in about Kenwood or Bosch or dlx machines.

What I want:

- A mixer that can handle 5 pounds (or more) of bread dough, whole-grain or white, stiff or soft, without burning up the motor or stripping the gears or walking off the counter.  Read: high capacity, durable and stable.  If you make it stout enough to feel comfortable offering a 5-year warranty, you'll be getting close to what I want.

- A hook / paddle that sheds dough, rather than inviting it in to play house with the drive mechanism.

- A meaningful measure of work output, rather than the watts drawn.

- A mixing motion that approximates the force and dough movement of hand kneading.  Note that I'm not asking to mimic the motion of hand kneading, like an Artofex, just something that produces similar results.

- Easy clean-up after use

- A space-efficient form factor so that it can fit on the typical kitchen counter

- Quick, reliable, consistent combination of ingredients; it shouldn't let unmixed material spin around at the bottom of the bowl.

- Steel, rather than plastic, parts

- A machine that is designed to be an effective mixer; not one that tries to be a blender and a sausage stuffer and an ice crusher and...and...and...

- Easy for the user to adjust or maintain

- A price point below $400

That's just off the top.  I may have to come back and add more later.

Paul

krob's picture
krob

Everyone seems to agree with your comments and so do I. Great stuff! Thanks for the feedback. We are definitely going to make it durable with a large capacity. Quality parts are a must as well as easy maintainence and cleaning. Awesome!

hanseata's picture
hanseata

almost all I had in mind.

I only want to add:

A slow start/first speed that doesn't swoosh the flour out of the bowl (one of the reasons I HATE my KA Artisan)

An integrated timer - one of the reasons I LOVE my 7-qt. Cuisinart.

A mixer that doesn't only look nice, but is really sturdy and has no flimsy parts, like an insufficient holding mechanism for the bowl - the divet jumping out if the holder if the bowl is not held down during the mix (one of the reasons I HATE my KA 600 Pro).

An easy to empty and to clean mixing bowl, without dough crawling into the motor opening (the reason I took my Bosch Universal back to the store).

Karin

krob's picture
krob

Wow, you've used a lot of mixers! Good perspectives. The slow start/stop is definitely one we've noticed to be important.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Call me skeptical.  

What company do you work for and what credentials are you willing to provide? It would be nice to know some general background information prior to disclosure. Doing product development for a mixer is all well and good but the data developed also has great value. Patent laws, having recently changed, give the first to file the most power in court under the new law.  

This is a nice way to come up with ideas later to be patented. Are you willing to yield to a "fair and reasonable, non-discriminatory" [FRAND] licensing with any data so collected and turned into patented IP [Intelectual Property] with other competitors? 

For members of TFL, firms exist which do nothing more than patent intellectual property which they then sell to firms in the manufacturing arena. If the idea is good enough and catches on in the market place the firm will sue any they consider infringing on their property. They do not have to use a "fair and reasonable non-discriminatory" licensing and can in some cases force entire company's out of business [though rarely does this occur it's not in their best long term interest].

The upshot is that the cost of finished goods are increased by their "cut" and we the consumer must pay for it.  Is this good or bad? Depends where you stand but it is legal. If they are fishing for ideas from "experts" then those "experts" should arrive at a formula for compensation...,

I apologize for raining on the parade and I am not an attorney.  

Just turn this over to your corporate legal and see what "they" have to say...,

Wild-Yeast

krob's picture
krob

Wild Yeast- Thank you for your concern in looking out for users and members of TFL.  However, I am a just a product developer and we are simply trying to do some market research. We are a manufacturer of kitchen appliances and we really do just want to produce a new mixer that meets consumer needs. I have used several of the major brand mixers and have become a mixer-user myself in efforts to try and understand the market. We are in the early design stages and the feedback I can get from experienced users is very valuable to us. This feedback is not IP (Intellectual Property) however. I am not looking for any patentable ideas. Even if someone wanted to poach ideas, there is nothing patenable about peoples likes, dislikes, and needs when in comes to mixers. Perhaps I should clarify to the users that if they have any ideas that are 'not obvious to one skilled in the art' (as the patent verbiage states), then they should keep these ideas to themselves if they're not comfortable with it being online. I am aware of the recent changes in patent law, but these laws only apply to patentable ideas. I imagine if someone had a truly novel idea, they would keep it to themself anyway. One of the biggest problems in product design, and the reason why many users are frustrated with their mixers, is that companies do not listen to the market when designing products. I am trying to listen! I am trying to gain insights in the market which I can then translate into a better product for the market. Don't get me wrong, I want to design a superior product for the success of our company, but I also want to pass the benefits on to mixer users.

Fellow TFL members: Your feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated! Please be at ease; any insights gained here are similar to what can be found through amazon reviews and consumer reports (which we have looked at as well). You are not being taken advantage of in any way. We just wanted to take a more direct approach to our research and give the customer a chance to tell us what they want. I hope this helps to ease concerns, as you can imagine the 'Wild-Yeast' post to this thread has pretty much killed any incoming feedback. TFL members and mixer users in general can only benefit from offering feedback. If anyone should have a say in what they want in a mixer it's the people who use them the most such as yourselves. Mixer users unite! ;) Thanks again. Sorry for the buzzkill. Please keep the suggestions coming!

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Or skepticism on my part.  A while back another TFL member asked questions about proofers for the home baker and that resulted in the quite fantastic Brod & Taylor folding home proofer.   Market research is always a plus and independent thought and ingenuity are admirable qualities.  

I must say that I think Paul's comments pretty much summed up my idea of a great mixer as well.  Especially the suggestions about the dough hook mixing the dough, not taking it for a walk upwards.   While multi-tasking has its benefits, a good mixer should do its job and do it well:  mix dough.  Forget about crushing ice, blending, or processing food.  

I have a Bosch compact and a KA Artisan.  The Bosch is superior to the KA for mixing and I like the fact it has a small footprint and I can carry it in one hand.  I'm not fond of the plastic bowl, but can replace that with a stainless steel bowl if needed.

Best wishes for coming up with a great new product!

krob's picture
krob

Thanks for the support. We're still very early in development, but when we're ready to release our product I'll make sure the members of TFL are among the first to hear about it.

suave's picture
suave

Frankly, I am perfectly happy with my bowl-lift KitchenAid, the only thing I would change about it is its ability to handle stiff dough - that is I want more torque, the insides that can handle this added torque, and a more secure bowl attachment mechanism.  

krob's picture
krob

I can promise we wont get stingy when it comes to torque!

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Hi, what I need most from a mixer is silence. The quietest the better.

What annoys me most is noise. I hate very noisy stuff.

Multi purpose mixers with a kneading arm generally lack a cutter/chopper with two sharp blades. It's one of the features that would make a seroious difference for my needs.

 

krob's picture
krob

Great comment. We're currently looking into some ways to make this mixer as quiet as possible. thanks!

sphealey's picture
sphealey

  • Designed to be overhauled and repaired with reasonable effort / at reasonable cost
  • Reasonable availablility of repair parts at reasonable cost (e.g. Zojirishu bread makers which actually have repair parts available for at least 5 years)
  • A gear train that makes full use of modern materials science and computational mechanics.  Strong, tough, durable, fails gracefully, and has a reasonable factor of overdesign.
  • A 3kg capacity would be nice, but whatever the capacity is state it honestly somewhere in your marketing materials.  Call it "artisan dough capacity" or something if you must be at least tell us what we can really knead without burning out the motor
  • Reliable and resettable thermal cutout on the motor
  • 120v and 240(220)V options
  • Positive clicks on the speed adjustment
  • Since you'll have to include 247 speeds to match the competition, a skip-shift option that takes the speed directly to the equivalent of the professional bakers 1st, 2nd, and 3rd speeds
  • A kneading hook that directs the dough down and folds it over rather than pulling it up, over the shield, and into the drive mechanism (I imagine KitchenAid have patented their spiral hook so you'll have to come up with a new shape)
  • Simple, strong mechanism to adjust the height of the bowl vs the bottom of the hook (when in operating position I mean; not the raise/lower position)
  • I like heads that crank up and down rather than tilt ;-)  I know some people prefer the opposite.
  • 1940s kitchen white as an optional color

That's not much to ask for, is it?

sPh

krob's picture
krob

I don't think that's too much to ask for at all. We'll see what we can do! ...really good insights, thanks.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

What I do hate as baker (and housewife) in small American kitchen appliances are the often too short cables. What kitchen has so many outlets around the countertop that it can accomodate all these coffeemakers, electric water heaters, mixers and other gadgets with their short cables?

I understand there is some safety concern, but why is it safer to have a bulky extension cable clogging the already restricted workspace? Cuisinart is one of the worst examples.

Sometimes I think that all these engineers are men who never set a foot in a kitchen, having a wife that does all the cooking....

Karin

 

plevee's picture
plevee

All the above, plus an open bowl that is easy to add ingredients to - the KA is awful for this. And a beater paddle that cleans the bowl so the mixer doesn't have to be stopped several times to scrape things down.

Patsy

krob's picture
krob

The cord comment is interesting, good point.

Sadly, you're pretty spot on; we are a bunch of male engineers that are not very experienced in the kitchen. I'm learning though, ha! I used to barely be able to make myself toast, now I'm baking bread! But that's why we're trying to ask the right people. Thanks.

Open bowl design and easy to scrape the sides. Great comment.

Crider's picture
Crider

similar to the Santos, but with maybe a 8 quart capacity. The Santos is solid, simple, and does just bread doughs. It has only one speed and a slowly rotating shaft that gently and evenly kneads the dough. Too bad this Santos mixer (model 18) costs more than $1,000 here in the US! 

I think it would be simple to make such a simple fork mixer for much less than that.

By the way, I don't have a mixer and don't want one unless it's something better than what's out there. I think the ones out there are noisy and knead too fast and hard. I've seen all sorts of Youtube videos of just about every mixer sold and they aren't very desireable to me.

krob's picture
krob

Very interesting comments. Hopefully we'll be able to design something that is more desireable for you. We are definitely trying to make something much better than what's out there!

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Still wondering why you're avoiding the question of identifying yourself and who you work for.

Your answer on patents is humorous. Of course you won't file a patent but your company will.

Still think it's a really simple question that could only help your company unless there's some reason that it's not in the cards.  I'll be sending copies of this thread to all the major manufacturer's just to keep the playing field informed. That's only fair.

Wild-Yeast

krob's picture
krob

Thank you for confirming our decision to not disclose who we are at this stage in development, but I'm glad you're here to make sure everything is fair. I don't think other major manufacturers can see this website or do their own market research. 

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Stainless bowl and metal housing.  and yes indeed re all of the comments...

krob's picture
krob

This has definitely been made clear. Stainless bowl, quality and durable materials throughout. Much appreciated. Thank you!

SteveB's picture
SteveB

krob,

Can you tell us if the mixer you are considering is to be designed and engineered specifically to mix bread dough or are you looking at a more general purpose mixer (two very different objectives)?

 

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com

krob's picture
krob

Good question. I know we are not designing a low quality mixer. I also know that we will not hold back when it comes to torque. That being said, we are still defining the project scope. Bread dough will more than likely be the priority.

shastaflour's picture
shastaflour

Hello Krob,

Glad to see you here on TFL! I really appreciate the wonderful suggestions others have made, and know you have mine already. All the best to you and the engineering team on this project.

I am wondering (once you have some prototypes manufactured) if it might be educational to farm a few of them out to a smattering of very experienced TFL members (like Paul, et. al), as well as others who might be newer to the art of breadmaking. I think you would get some fantastic feedback pre-production, and perhaps some very nice PR if all went well with the "dream machine." Just a thought.  

- Marguerite

krob's picture
krob

Thanks Marguerite! We are still doing true R&D and gathering information, so we're still a ways away from having any functional prototypes... but your idea is a great one! I've been thinking that TFL members would be ideal for focus groups and beta testing! I'll keep you informed, but be patient with us. Product development processes on something like this can take upwards of 18-24 months.

charliez's picture
charliez

I'll add my two cents. 

-what is the most important thing you look for when selecting a mixer?

The motor, has to be strong and able to mix up to 5 kilos of dough.  But it has to be able to mix well 5 kilos as
well as 1/2 a kilo.

-Is there something you wish a mixer could do, but there doesn't seem to be any mixers on the market that can do it?

My wishlist would be the following (besides the great stuff that has been added in the comments above):

- Stainless bowl
- Use the engine to power a small grain mill, like the Komo's.
- LCD display with multiple timers (3-4) and hability to add/substract time on the fly
- Thermometer, plug and display to measure dough Temp in bowl and other bowls
- Programable routines, i.e., be able to program Routine A of 3 minutes on speed 1 and 3.5 minutes on speed 2.
- Blue sky: integrated weigh scale when in the lower position

That is it for now...

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== Thermometer, plug and display to measure dough Temp in bowl and other bowls ===

It occurs to me that a thermometer could be integrated into the dough hook and transmit the temperature at the center of the dough to the head for display.

sPh

That was probably a patentable idea I just gave up there ;-)

krob's picture
krob

excellent input! Thermometer and scale are interesting concepts. We're looking into optimal timers as well. thanks!

pjaj's picture
pjaj

Reliability - I'm a retired engineer and am still using a 40 year old Kenwood Chef Major. OK I've rebuilt the gear box and changed the motor in the past 6-7 years but up until then it had no problems. Spare parts are a bit difficult to come by now, but were readily available up to about 6 years ago. Please don't design it down to a price or to last only a few years, a short term gain (cheap) a long term disaster (bad reliability reputation) That's why I won't be buying a KA after reading in this forum how many died young mixing dough and I'm dubious of the latest Kenwoods since they are no longer manufactured in the UK. Of course I'd love a Hobart, but it's too expensive, too big and too heavy.

Availability - I live in the UK and can only easily buy the KA and current Kenwood machines. Don't forget the 240V option.

Don't exaggerate - The old Kenwood is rated at 450W, the current equivalent model is about 1500W but I very much doubt it is over 3 times as powerful since both machines have comparable capacities.

Other than that, most of the above. Stainless steel (dishwasher safe), 2.5kg of 60% hydration bread dough, plenty of low speed torque, a dough hook that keeps the dough down and scrapes the bottom of the bowl, unlike the Kenwood where the dough climbs and there can be unmixed flour at the very bottom.

As for the IP question, I doubt that anything mentioned here is really new and in any case surely constitutes prior publication if it is.

krob's picture
krob

Agreed. That's awesome you rebuilt your Kenwood, a true engineer. Yeah durability has definitely been a common requirement as well as a dough hook that functions well and keeps dough away from drive components. Thanks for the feedback.

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

The gears, aside from all metal should be cut gears, the way they used to be made in the 80's and prior, rather than powdererd metal gears, which basically is metal powder, cast into a mold, then pressure and heat treated to pop out a gear.  Much cheaper production cost than when your dad was a machinist.  I've read that powdered is as strong, but I am not convinced.  The first picture below is a machined cut gear taken from a K5A made in 1964 and up thru the '80's on the K5SS models.  If you look at the parts suppliers that are out there and look at replacement gears, you will see the edges that are square cut on picture 1 look slightly rounded on the picture 2 cast gear, which is due to powdered metal casting process on the latter vs machine tool cutting on the former.  The first picture below: two gears on the shaft, seperately cut and attached to the shaft.  The second picture is a cast powdered metal gear, thus a cheaper process.  Unless the quality/durability is as strong as the old fashioned cut gear, the machine may break.  Granted cost is an issue but worth looking at to ensure there are no gear failures even if "all metal" is the intention...

Cut Gear:

 

Powedered Metal Gear:

 

 

pjaj's picture
pjaj

I agree, poor quality gears will be an Achilles heel. The reason I rebuilt the gear box on my Kenwood (see above) was that the original gears were hard nylon, they ran quiet but wore out. Their replacements are cut steel, unfortunately noisier, but much harder wearing. Ever design is a compromise, quiet V hard wearing, cheap V reliable and so on. There was also another design flaw in the original machine, the beater shafts were too thin, they locked into place in the planetary drive socket by a circular spring clip set into a groove in the shaft. The shock loads from some mixing processes caused the shafts to shear across the weak stress point of the groove. Their replacements are considerably thicker and don't shear. You could do a lot worse than buy a number of different mixers and strip them down to find their strong and weak design points.

krob's picture
krob

Good stuff. We will make sure that the gearing is done very robustly. I agree and do not want it to become an Achilles heel to the machine. I want this machine to be indestructable! Thanks.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

May I add to the list

-a double sided paddle to mix rye and gluten-free doughs. Leaf, hook and whisk are totally inappropriare for this task. Maybe with some gum protrusion to automatically and gently clean the sides of the bowl without scratching it. In my opinion a cylindric bowl would be more appropriate.

-a mechanism to regulate the distance of the hook/whisk from the bottom of the bowl, so as to handle minimal amounts of ingredients (2 eggs, 200 gr of dough to knead and so on).

-a different movement. I have a toyish Bosch mixer that makes a diagonal movement: the attachments to which the hook/whisk fit is not vertical, but inclined of 20-30 degrees. In my opinion the dough comes together quicker than in my stand mixer that  wheels perfectly vertically.

krob's picture
krob

Those are some great insights. The smaller Bosch does have an interesting motion to it.  I think making the distance between the bowl and attachment adjustable is a great idea. We've noticed the need for this in our testing, we try to make sure we can whip a single egg into meringue. Thanks again!

SCChris's picture
SCChris

krob, how is the project coming along?

 

Thanks

Chris

 

merlie's picture
merlie

I've been very tempted to buy a Breville mixer because I love the look of it!! ( Take a look at one )   However it only manages to mix the same amount of dough as the Kitchenaide so I could not justify buying it.  I too, hate having to throw a towel over my KA so that it does not throw flour everywhere when it starts up. I want a mixer  that actually kneads and doesn't just take the dough for a ride round and round or up the shaft into the works .......It has to be able to take on enough dough to make at least 4 loaves of bread .

You've been given some great ideas - but we have to be able to AFFORD this wonderful mixer !

 

Merlie