Entrepreneur and inventor Patricia Mangan has unveiled a new device called Orbysun, a hybrid solar-powered clothes dryer that lets you dry clothes outside but protects them from rain, pollen and pollution.
Orbysun is the brainchild of Patricia Mangan, owner of Maikology.
The device is a solar-powered clothes dryer that dries your clothes gently using clean, filtered air. It boasts little or no running costs and zero CO2 emissions.
“I thought there has to be a better way of doing laundry that is sustainable and yet looked good too”
The hybrid-solar appliance sits between the indoor drying appliances – tumble dryer, air dressers and clothes horses – and the outdoor clothes lines.
Born of necessity
“The seed of the idea was sown back in my teenage years living on the west coast of Ireland, where it rained a lot,” Mangan explains. “My mother hung the clothes out on the line every day and every day we rushed home to get them in off the line before the rain came, which it inevitably did.
“Years later, as an architect, I saw the same problems reoccurring in people’s homes and thought there has to be a better way of doing laundry that is sustainable and yet looked good too.
“I was aware that existing laundry drying methods, such as clothes lines and tumble dryers, have proved to be problematic and have not fundamentally changed since the 1950s. The electric tumble dryer is the most widely used appliance for laundry drying globally.
“It is costly to run (on average €168 in Germany, per year) and produces high carbon emissions while operating (263 Kg CO2e on average on a German electrical mix). Tumble dryers collectively consume 4% of all domestic energy use in the United States, producing high levels of CO2 emissions.”
Mangan said that Orbysun has no direct competitors and the business will target the US first followed by southern Europe, Asia and Australasia.
“You simply take your typical load of washing from the washing machine, take it outside and hang it on Orbysun’s easy-to-use modular hanging mechanism.
“Orbysun then dries your clothes outside. It can dry them passively and when the weather turns it can be plugged in.”
She explained that drying time is typically between two and six hours. The device comes with a range of accessories such as modular hanging rails and scent pods to keep clothes smelling fresh.
The Orbysun is also mobile in that you can wheel it through your back door, gate or onto a lift if you live in an apartment.
“Once your clothes are dried, the optional user-friendly app will let you know, as well as informing you on your energy, CO2, and cost savings over time.
Inspiration to innovation
Maikology was established in 2016 by Mangan along with Declan Kinahan. Kinahan is also the founder and director of Didacta Ltd, a school supplies company based in Ireland. He has extensive experience in product sourcing and development. He previously worked in the financial sector as director of Foreign Exchange at Prebon Yamane (now Tullet Prebon) a global brokering house in the City of London
Mangan is the founder of Studio M Architects, an award-winning practice-based in Dublin.
She has also designed a minimalist acrylic safety gate, called the Qdos Crystal Babygate and along with her business partner Kinahan has licensed it to Safe Care & Co, a Danish company based in China. It is on the market under the QDOS brand in the US and the Fred brand in the UK. It is on sale in multiple retail outlets, such as John Lewis (UK)and Target (USA) as well as on Amazon.
“My dad Michael was an entrepreneur and risk taker and a huge influence on me. I knew from aged 12 that I wanted to be an architect, probably as I was regularly brought onto building sites with my dad. He was a building contractor for many years in England until the late 1970s when we moved back to Co Mayo.
“I always admired his ability to think big and outside the box but he was also a stickler for detail. His resilience and optimism were infectious and he had a great ability to bring people with him on projects, even through difficult stages. Sadly he died last year, but whenever I hit a bump on the road , I’m reminded of him saying ‘you have two choices, get busy living or get busy dying..!’, It keeps you focused and thankful for the opportunities.”
To drive the product’s development, the business has developed a core team that includes Dr Colin Keogh, a young visionary engineer, Sean Toomey, a product designer, ex-Dyson.
“We received initial funding from Enterprise Ireland through Enterprise Ireland’s Female Entrepreneurs Funding back in 2017, which was of benefit,” says Mangan. “There is a great energy around the tech sector. However, in our experience we have found there is less of a support system around hardware start-ups. Hence we have decided to widen our reach to approach manufacturing companies in other regions.”
She said that the business is currently not seeking funding. “However, we are seeking a manufacturing partner with the intention to bring Orbysun from a proven patented technology to a global market. We are seeking a company that has a sustainable ethos, the manufacturing capability and a global reach.
“From the beginning we sought the expertise of Dr Gerry Byrne, ReaDI-Watch (formerly head of Engineering and Architecture, UCD) who has been a great advisor and supporter. We have always brought in the best expertise that we could connect with at any given time.”
Her advice to fellow founders, especially hardware start-ups, is to factor in time. “Product development takes twice as long as you think it will and always cost more than you thought. Getting patents in the US and Europe granted is no mean feat.
“Stick with it, you will never regret giving it your best, but you will always regret what might have been, if you don’t try.”
Main image: Patricia Mangan of Maikology with her solar/hybrid clothes dryer