Previous generations of West Bend Professional Crushed Ice Machines were marketed specifically toward children. This was the first generation of crushed ice machines that was designed with the modern kitchen in mind. The goal was to create “snowball” quality ice machine that can maintain a spot on the countertop year-round and be more appropriate for use at parties for adults.
Focus Products Group approached Product Development Technologies to design the next generation of “Shaved Ice” machines. Before the West Bend Professional Snowball Machine, achieving a “snowball” quality grade of ice was previously only achievable with large, expensive commercial machinery; a typical machine was 33” long x 14” wide X 27.5” tall, with a price tag of about $1,900 and capable of shaving large ice blocks into snow that is akin to the fresh snow in January. Now, this is available in an affordable home kitchen appliance. The West Bend Professional Snowball Machine has made the manufacture of street vendor quality ice possible with a portable machine that produces an 8-oz. serving in less than 30 seconds with a price tag of under $100.
The primary design challenge was to achieve “Snowball” quality shaved ice with a small, portable machine. Many factors had to be combined to achieve what Mother Nature does naturally. The ice chamber was designed to hold a specific amount of ice to allow the propeller mechanism to achieve proper speeds without stalling. The speed of the propeller is synchronized with the angle and thickness of the blades to slice the ice into small pieces called snow.
The foundation of the design began with the ice bin. Its wide mouth and narrow bottom allows the snow to be efficiently scooped out of the container. This inspired the shape for the whole machine to follow that form, featuring a thin, narrow base and a thick, wide top.
The handle was another important feature of the Professional Snowball Machine. It was carefully designed from all angles and streamlined into the design to be portable while maintaining an elegant look for the modern kitchen.
The two-toned gray color palette differentiates the features to make for intuitive operation of the device. The clean, classy colors were chosen so the device easily integrates with modern kitchen appliances, encouraging users to leave it on the counter rather than storing it out of sight when not in use. The plastic material was chosen for a few reasons: to create a light weight and portable device, making it an ideal appliance for entertaining guests as well as allowing the snowball machine to be easily disassembled and assembled again for cleaning.
The Professional Snowball Machine was launched June 2015 and can be found at high-end retail stores such as Williams-Sonoma stores. A machine that could achieve this finely shaved quality of ice was previously not available as a consumer product. Focus Products Group and PDT made this quality of ice achievable in a sleek modern kitchen appliance all for under $100.
PDT was founded with a fresh vision for how product development should work. This unique approach has propelled our growth to a firm spanning the globe with nine offices and over 125 dedicated experts. Our design and engineering teams are frequently recognized by distinguished industry awards. Since 1995, PDT has been committed to providing truly comprehensive product development services via a proven, process-driven approach. Grounded in creativity, our work is balanced by a solid understanding of your business, the needs of your customers and demands of your markets. Even our own corporate structure - flexible and entrepreneurial in the best sense of the word - is designed in response to the fast paced nature of the industries in which our clients compete. Our mission? Deliver on the promise of truly seamless product development, innovation through execution. By all counts, we do it pretty well… Over 75% of PDT’s programs are repeat business from clients who’ve come to appreciate how our team becomes a natural extension of theirs. We build close, trusted relationships on solutions that rarely fail to exceed expectations.