SCHOTT solutions no. 2/2014 > Home Appliances
Food in a new spotlight
SCHOTT Gemtron developed for Whirlpool illuminated glass shelving with built-in LEDs to provide better visibility in refrigerators. The new shelves boast well-balanced lighting that ensures the best possible view of the contents, while also providing up to 25 percent more storage space.
Food items stacked on top of each other and refrigerator shelves stuffed so tightly you can hardly find anything – an everyday problem for many families. To keep track of what’s actually in the fridge, one thing in particular is needed: efficient lighting that can shed light on every nook and cranny inside. After a big pre-weekend shop, for example, the refrigerator is often so packed that any attempt to find one’s favorite food turns into a major search. SCHOTT Gemtron brought Whirlpool a bright idea for addressing this: the appliance manufacturer designed a fridge with such evenly spread lighting that you’ll never lose track of any chilled food or drink again. Illuminated MicroEdge Glo Shelves, a SCHOTT Gemtron concept presented to Whirlpool, are glass shelves with built-in LED lights that brighten up every last corner in the refrigerator.
The individual shelves’ frames are very thin, which means they save space and can be placed anywhere inside the cabinet. But the newly designed fridge contributes even more than just cooling and freezing – the built-in Cool Vox sound system with integrated Bluetooth connectivity means you can now enhance your cooking environment with music straight from your smartphone. Whirlpool and SCHOTT have been implementing innovative solutions for innovative household appliances for many years now. Still, coming up with illuminated shelving was a considerable challenge for both. The task was to integrate LED lights into conventional fridge shelves without the lamps themselves being immediately obvious. Project Leader Chris Schechter, Lighted Shelf Product Development Engineer for SCHOTT Gemtron’s Flat Glass Business Unit, is very pleased with the final result: ”The design that our team came up with is really very smart. We managed to bond the lights directly to the shelf’s glass surface. At the same time, we integrated the lights into the frame in such a way that they’re barely visible themselves, provide lighting in every corner, and ensuring perfect visibility inside the refrigerator cabinet.” The project’s success is first and foremost due to the close teamwork between Whirlpool and SCHOTT Gemtron in the development phase, says Schechter: ”Both sides benefited immensely from the collaborative effort and contributed highly specialized expertise to the project. With our know-how, we were able to help Whirlpool develop a truly innovative product that is currently unique on the market.”
The MicroEdge Glo Shelves from SCHOTT Gemtron illuminate the refrigerator’s interior evenly and ensure a perfect overview. Photo: Whirlpool
Rebecca Eubanks, Senior Product Development Manager for Bottom Mount Refrigerators at Whirlpool, certainly agrees: ”Illuminated glass shelving is a game-changer in our market segment. People who purchase our side-by-side French Door Bottom Mount fridges now enjoy an excellent view of their contents. The new lighting concept also ensures that the advantages we are known for, such as spaciousness and easy cleaning, are not compromised in any way.” Thanks to the LED lamps, there is around 50 percent more light under each shelf. Customers have better visibility exactly where they need it. At the same time, the lighting concept provides excellent longevity and energy efficiency. The technology used for supplying power to the fridge shelves is also quite remarkable: ”Our insertable shelves do not require any cabling or connectors. The built-in lights are powered entirely via the shelf mounts attached to the rear wall of the cabinet. The electricity is conducted not through cables, but through the shelves’ metal inner frames. Because the power connection is between the shelf mount and the refrigerator’s interior wall, it is very safe and reliable,” adds Schechter. ”This also ensures that the glass shelving can be used very flexibly; no cables get in the way, and the individual shelves can be moved around the fridge interior at any time as needed.”
The unusual lighting concept of the illuminated glass shelves convinces fans of both organization and design, while putting food and drinks in the spotlight. Photo: Whirlpool
Whirlpool’s spacious new fridge model is likely to impress more than just those who like to keep things neat and organized. The innovative and engaging lighting concept is also set to woo those with an appetite for aesthetics – the food and drinks inside the fridge are lit up as if they were on stage. The features in the U.S. manufacturer’s new model combine the advantages of traditional refrigerators with the added value of improved visibility: movable glass surfaces that provide plenty of storage space and are easy to clean. Germs and bacteria have no chance to gather in the corners – the fridge interior is well lit and hygienic at all times. <