[MEDIA FEATURE] ESTETICA BEST IN EXPORT 2024 - More Power with Less Wattage: A Hair Dryer Evolution

[MEDIA FEATURE] ESTETICA BEST IN EXPORT 2024 - More Power with Less Wattage: A Hair Dryer Evolution

With almost seven decades of activity, Tai Wah is a Singapore-based company dedicated to the professional hair salon business. They started as distributors of a wide range of products for salon use and went on to specialize in salon tools like hair dryers. Recently, they have encountered a team of highly skilled Engineers while seeking help to developed their digital motor dryer. This team of Engineers were able to solve the technical challenges that they faced for their compact high-speed digital motor dryer.

The high-speed digital motor was the latest, recent innovation to power hair dryers and related products. A new revolutionary motor that offers high performance with less energy consumption. While such high-speed motors are currently available, this team of Engineers were able to innovate to produce different size of motor powered by specially designed PCBA to specially suit the performance requirements and the size and shape of their dryers’ design.

This team of Engineers were specialist in different fields, who worked together to produce highspeed digital motors of different configurations to create any motors to meet specific requirements of any hair dryer design. It entails the creation of different size motors powered by specially designed PCBA as well as the design of the fan blades powering the dryer.

Tai Wah in cooperation with this team of Engineers intend to offer the services of this team of Engineers with their expertise to the trade. Basically, the services offered will be the design of a high-speed digital motor system to power the dryers of the customers.

The high-speed digital motor system offered to the customers will be designed specific to the customers’ requirements for performance (airflow, heat functions, wattage and noise level). There will be controls to prevent overheating of the dryer and option for free (or dual voltage -110V-240V) function for the dryer.

Tai Wah is able to offer complete service of assisting customers to develop any hairdryer from design, to mold making, through to production. Customers may elect to just purchase the highspeed digital motor (specially designed to their requirements) for installation into the housing of their dryers. The Engineers will design the system to fit into their proposed housing.

We spoke to Mr Toh Kok Swee, CEO of the company:


Mr Toh Kok Swee, CEO

Can you introduce your Company?

Tai Wah started as a partnership in 1956 with offices in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. At that time, we were distributing major brands like Wella, Ella Bache, Sothys, Nemectron, Takara and 4711.

In 1985, Tai Wah entered into a joint venture with Wella AG in a manufacturing plant in Malaysia with distribution companies in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Over the years, Tai Wah has developed an extensive professional distribution network in Southeast Asia and China.

In the late 1990s, Tai Wah entered the Chinese market and invested in manufacturing facilities there.

In 2002, we were appointed as Regional Distributor for WAHL in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong

In 2010, we took on the regional distribution of P&G Salon Professional Brands.

In 2013, we developed our own range of hair and beauty equipment, machines and accessories under our brand TUFT. At the same time, we also offered OEM services.

We design and manufacture hair equipment like hair dryers, hair irons and machines for the hair and beauty industry.

In 2016 we established our team of research & development engineers to design and develop our own range of hair and beauty equipment.

Since then, we have focused on technology development on our range of products and ended the regional distribution of P&G Salon Professional Brands

In 2017, we started exporting our brand TUFT and opening various distribution channels.

In 2019 we opened a new manufacturing facility in Malaysia”.

Recently you have revolutionized your production of hair dryers and other professional electric tools. How did that happen?

We have been working on the development of hairdryers using high-speed digital motors. Our first version was developed in a factory in Dongguan. After many successful tests in our lab, we started selling our first version of the digital dryer. To our surprise, after the initial good reaction from the local markets (Singapore and Malaysia), we had to face a lot of quality issues. Customers were complaining about the hairdryer stalling and later overheating and melting the nozzles. We were forced to recall the product. We took back all the dryers sold and compensated our customers. But we did not give up! Studying our trade, we found out that most of the digital motor dryers in the market had similar issues.

So, we decided to put together our own engineering team to study the issues of our dryer and after intensive tests, we managed to address many of the issues and solve all the major problems of our digital motor dryer. This second-generation dryer proved to be more stable and better. Our team of engineers was able to develop a digital motor system specific to our requirements – in terms of airflow, wattage, heat and noise level. It took several prototypes to be built and tested by some hairdressers. Finally, we created a digital motor dryer that we can sell with confidence and at a lower cost”.


More power and less energy consumption, how is that possible?

Hairdressers are mostly concerned about the airflow and the heat of the dryer. The traditional dryers use the standard AC or DC motor. These are motors with carbon in the motor system. The AC motor is much heavier than the DC motor (which has less copper coil). The airflow and heat level are determined only by the wattage of the dryer motors. The higher the wattage, the higher the performance of the dryer. Higher wattage means also the dryer uses more electricity. In countries like Indonesia where the supply of electrical power is limited, most salons are unable to use high-wattage dryers, so they will only buy dryers under 1000 watts. People normally believe that the higher the wattage the better the performance of the dryer. In most cases, this is true for hairdryers using the traditional AC and DC motors.

The most advanced technologies – like the one we are using now – have changed the situation. The introduction of the BLDC motor and more recently the high-speed digital motor has made the wattage theory obsolete. The new generation of BLDC and high-speed digital motors are able to perform better than the traditional AC and DC with less wattage – and therefore less electricity. Fundamentally, these new generation of motors are able to produce higher airflow and the same heat as the traditional AC/DC motors while running on a lower wattage. So, while traditional AC/DC motor dryers can generate airflow at about 18mps the BLDC/digital motor can generate airflow of 20mps and above while operating on a much lower wattage”.

Thats great, but isn’t the final product more expensive than a traditional one?

Yes, the BLDC/high speed digital motors cost much more than the traditional motor – but think about the savings in energy cost that one can achieve using these digital motors versus using the traditional motor dryers”.

How is this impacting the evolution and the sales of your brand Tuft?

The market is trending towards the use of digital motors and paying more for their dryers. This has been spurred by the introduction of the first Dyson hand-held dryers”.

How are your sales organized?

We have always been focused on selling our brand Tuft to professional hairdressers at salons. In more recent years, we also have a presence in social media to allow greater visibility of our brand. We also assist parties who wish to develop their own brand of hair appliances. We also have many global customers who use us as one of their many suppliers to produce their products for them”.

How do you distribute worldwide?

Over the past years, we have participated in many trade fairs that allowed us on the one side to keep building our global distribution networks for our brand TUFT through the appointment of distributors in different countries and on the other hand to secure customers for our OEM service (manufacturing under their brands).”

What are your main markets?

We are strong in our regional markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. We also have a presence in China, Hong Kong, Middle East and the Philippines, Europe, the USA”.

Where would you like to go next?

We need to grow more in the USA and Europe, as well as some South American countries”.

Does your product need to be adapted to every single market?

Yes, we do need to make changes to our product performance and presentation to address the different preferences in individual markets”.

Are e-commerce and online activities important for your company?

It is very important for us to work hard to develop our e-commerce platforms, especially for our brand. The world is trending more and more to a digital marketplace for all products and we need to grow our presence in these global e-commerce platforms”.