Introducing noteworthy products and technologies developed through Sony Group environmental initiatives. Selected developer interviews also shed light on these promising innovations.
Weighing in at only 4.7 kg, this fall 2012 BRAVIA LCD TV gives consumers in China, India, the Middle East, and other markets a 32-inch set that's half as heavy as the previous model2, which translates into 35% lower CO2 emissions in parts and materials production. Here, two developers explain what makes the set so unbelievably light.
1 Among 32-inch LCD TVs, as of October 2012 2 KDL-32EX420
Global television demand is shifting from CCFL- to LED-backlit sets. Sony is satisfying this need while keeping sets affordable and maintaining the high standards in design and picture quality Sony is known for. As the engineers pursued these goals their approach yielded an unexpected benefit. KLV-32EX330 sets require significantly fewer parts and less material. The secret to this drastic reduction in resources lay in how the engineers took a fresh look at the structure of televisions.
In LCD TVs, layers of flat parts such as LCD cells and optical sheets are sandwiched between metal frames in front and back. For this BRAVIA model, the engineers revised this structure, focusing on the panel module, which eliminated many unneeded parts. High standards in build quality were maintained, but because few metal parts are needed, the set is significantly lighter.
For example, the panel modules in most TVs are usually provided by suppliers with the LCD cells already sandwiched between metal frames. This model breaks from tradition because the panel module housing the LCD cell is assembled at Sony. Sony engineers pushed the boundaries of their work by considering matters of panel module structure that were previously managed by suppliers. Looking back on development, Tabito Hafuka, who led mechanical design, puts it this way.
"As we reexamined panel module design, something occurred to us. Were the metal frames truly necessary? As long as we could maintain build quality, maybe they weren't."
By taking another look at each part, Hafuka and his team members saw how they could indeed maintain quality while eliminating most metal parts and switch to plastic. Another advantage of halving the weight is that this also halves the impact of any jostling in transit.
*Among 32-inch LCD TVs, as of October 2012
It's clear that the set saves resources, considering regular sets require many parts from the bezel to the back cover. It took considerable ingenuity to secure the key LCD TV parts inside-the LCD cell, optical sheets, and so on-but the engineers succeeded in maintaining the same solid build quality.
Even if the metal parts could be replaced with plastic ones, structural integrity had to be ensured. At the same time, the set had to withstand demanding installation environments, such as kitchens where food is fried. In grueling durability tests, a wall-mounted set was coated in oil, and the ambient temperature was raised and lowered repeatedly over several days.
A minimum of metal
An inside view of the back cover, showing the LED backlight array. Except for the metal mounting hardware (which is required in emerging markets where the sets are sold), the cover is made entirely of plastic. Although this part must be sturdy, the engineers also succeeded in making it as short as possible. In this way, seeking a lighter set also led to fixtures that are short yet strong.
A close-up inside the bezel. Without screws, most outer parts are attached by tabs. The team studied a range of shapes, at many positions, to create parts that fit together easily without coming off too easily. Although a few screws are used for reinforcement, structural integrity is largely ensured by the fit of these tabs.
Satoshi Yoshida, involved in mechanical design, recalls how this also tested his team's ingenuity. "Most sets pass the test the first time, but with this prototype, we opened the test chamber one day early only to find that it was cracked. We repeated the test five or six times, but the same thing happened. Between each test, we studied and refined the structural design.
It would have been easy to pass this test by adding metal parts, but we didn't want to compromise that way. After repeatedly refining the structure of the plastic cover and tiny metal supports under it, we were finally satisfied that it met our quality standards."
The engineers' desire to conserve resources even led them to reduce the number of screws needed. That's why, except where screws are needed for the speakers, stand, and circuit board shielding, all parts are secured with plastic tabs instead of screws. The team succeeded in slashing the number of screws from 82 in the previous model to only 28.
Eliminating screws also enabled them to eliminate screw receptacles on the front bezel, which in turn enabled a slimmer, more attractive bezel-down from 26 mm* to less than 15 mm. Using fewer screws also accelerates production and makes sets easier to disassemble when recycled. The radical redesign of this BRAVIA television structure yields a much lighter set, at 4.7 kg. What made it possible was a culmination of these kinds of technical innovations, developed so that Sony can meet new world needs.
Use of recycled plastic
Out of all the plastic used for the stand, the bezel, and other external parts, 60% is recycled plastic. This keeps consumption of new oil-based resources under control.
Panel & Mechanical Design Dept., TV Business Div.
Home Entertainment & Sound Business Group
Returning from a post at an engineering center outside of Japan last year, Hafuka's first task was to oversee mechanical design for this model, as the project began.
Panel & Mechanical Design Dept., TV Business Div. (at time of interview)
Home Entertainment & Sound Business Group
Contributed to the innovative KLV-32EX330 mechanical design, such as tabs that greatly reduce the number of screws needed for external plastic parts.
Sony engineers at KL Tec. Malaysia is another market for this set.
This set was jointly designed at offices in Tokyo and Sony EMCS Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur Tec (KL Tec), and it incorporates innovations from KL Tec's role in Sony production. Not only did the engineers slash the number of screws needed, only half as many kinds are used, which supports manufacturing efficiency and standardization.
Wall-mounted LCD TVs on display at an electronics store in United Arab Emirates
Demand for LCD TVs with LED backlight systems is also surging in emerging markets, where consumers tend to judge products from a global perspective considering not only price but also design and picture quality. Launched in these markets in fall 2012, the KLV-32EX330 meets these needs well.