Bowles and PTC Creo: The Fascinating Technology That Cleans Your Windshield

If you ever cleaned your car’s windows with washer fluid, you probably used technology created by Bowles Fluidics. The Columbia, Maryland-based company developed its core product—fluidic windshield washer nozzles—in the 1970’s for the Ford Mustang. Today, Bowles provides nozzles to all major automakers, supplying 85% of the vehicles built in North America. In fact, since its inception, Bowles has produced over 1 billion nozzles. That’s a lot of clean windows!

What makes these nozzles so successful? Fluidic technology. In video below, you can see an example of a nozzle with two fluidic streams. One cleans the lower portion of a vehicle’s windshield, and the other reaches the upper portion.

What is Fluidics?

The term fluidics combines the words “fluid” and “logic.” Using pressurized liquids or gasses and no moving parts, fluidics creates motion. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, before the rise of electronic transistors, fluidic technology was viewed as a way to create circuits and perform logical operations, and Bowles was a pioneer in the field.

When it became apparent that electronic circuits were taking hold, Bowles leveraged its fluidics expertise and turned to devices like automobile spray nozzles, hot tub jets, sprinklers, pulsating sprays, massaging devices, nebulizers, and more.

Here’s a large-scale model showing how fluidics works to create an oscillating water flow:

Why Fluidics?

Large drops are one of the main characteristics of a fluidic spray. And oscillating streams naturally create larger droplets, which result in better wind resistance, higher velocity, higher efficiency, and superior impact cleaning. Fluidic sprays also generate large coverage patterns that conventional sprays can’t match.

Automakers and consumers alike benefit from fluidic technology. Automakers love the technology because it works without moving parts, so there’s no wear. Drivers feel safer using Bowles’ products when they encounter mud and slush flying into the windshield at high speeds. It provides superior cleaning coverage, promotes longer wiper blade life, and requires less fluid compared to other spray methods.

How PTC Creo Makes a Difference

Although Bowles keeps many CAD packages in house to accommodate its customers, all design is done in PTC Creo.  And PTC Creo Simulate gives Bowles’ designers the power to understand performance before physical prototyping begins, using the PTC Creo interface, workflow, and productivity tools they are already familiar with.

 “Our automotive customers have development cycles that last 4-5 years. But we can run digital simulations with PTC Creo to evaluate our windshield sprayers years before the first physical prototype of a vehicle is available,” says Praveen Pai, Lead Designer at Bowles Fluidics.

Engineers can then modify and improve the model until it performs exactly how they want. By the time the OEM prototypes the car, fewer surprises arise, and that means fewer late changes.

Bowles continues to develop spray nozzles as new vehicles come online. With the popularity of LED headlights, backup cameras, and other automotive technologies, there are also new automotive markets to explore.

But you won’t just find Bowles products on cars. Companies enlist Bowles technology to benefit from optimized water distribution:

  • Toro uses Bowles for its line of precision irrigation nozzles. That is, lawn sprinklers that spread water in such a smart way that they provide better overall soaking while using less water. Again, all with no moving parts!
  • Delta Faucet contracted Bowles to design its low-flow showerhead, which it says leads to a more “drenched” feeling with a fraction of the water used by traditional showerheads.
  • Sundance Spas wanted advanced hydrotherapy spa nozzles that feel great and result in lower warranty costs. The oscillating nozzles developed by Bowles create a spa experience with no moving parts—and a drastic decrease in warranty claims.

As Bowles works with new and existing customers and markets, PTC Creo Simulate is the company’s partner in creating accurate, testable digital simulations to get its products designed right from the start.

Want to learn more? Find more companies that optimize designs with PTC Creo Simulate, or check out our Quick Links for product details and tutorials.