Volume 1, Issue 2 - January 2005
Bayer Thermoplastic Polyurethanes Spur Innovative Products
Welcome to this edition of Bayer MaterialScience’s TPU eUpdate.
This issue focuses on innovation—the lifeblood of new products, new kinds of product applications and new ways to create value for your customers.
Every innovation begins with an idea. It may be as simple as how to improve a sports item or as complicated as how to prevent hearing loss. In either case, Bayer TPUs may spur your innovation and inventiveness and get your product to market more rapidly, as in the applications featured below.
Product Innovation is not just about technology. It’s also about how you apply the best materials and the fruits of your vendor’s R&D. It’s about how you apply knowledge. Often it's about asking the right questions of your material suppliers, thinking clearly about their answers and acting on what you hear.
New Underwater Hockey Puck Uses Thermoplastic Polyurethane
It’s a deceptively simple sport featuring a puck weighing 42 to 49 ounces similar to the one used in ice hockey. Two teams, each with six active players and four more on the bench, attempt to strike—or “flick”—as it’s known to inveterate players—the puck into the opponents’ 10-foot-wide goal using one-foot-long wooden sticks. The playing area is 40 – 49.5 feet wide and 69 – 82.5 feet long. Octopush derives its name from the era when the sport was played with eight players to a team.
The sport has a hitch: The players need to be exceptionally good at holding their breath. The game is played nearly 7 – 10 feet underwater, which is why each player is equipped with a diving mask, snorkel and fins. The game is fast, furious and an excellent way to keep fit.
Octopush, invented 50 years ago by English diving instructor Alan Blake, is particularly popular in Southern Hemisphere countries, although the 1998 World Championship matches were played in San Jose, Calif. Octopush is poised to gain in dynamism, precision and variety, thanks to a newly developed puck.
The new puck is the brainchild of veteran octopush player Charles Simms, who was able to incorporate all his experience into the design.
“I was mainly concerned with improving the grip between stick and puck,” Simms said. “Being able to guide and control the puck close to the stick is essential for successful play. At the same time, the puck must slide very smoothly on the pool tiles to allow fast, accurate passing.” Bayer MaterialScience supported Simms in his development work.
The traditional octopush puck features a lead core and a top and underside consisting of an elastomer-modified acetal copolymer. Use of Bayer’s Desmopan® 385 thermoplastic polyurethane is a new feature. It was chosen mainly for its good gripping properties, its very good wear and cut resistance. Desmopan 385 also doesn’t swell when wet and displays good resistance to chlorinated water.
Another innovation is the procedure for connecting the plastic parts. The top and bottom of the puck are clipped together, and the narrow TPU edge is molded on so that it forms a flush overlap with the top and underside. Snap connectors are used for mechanical fastening.
“This design featuring edges made from soft, elastic TPU ensures that the puck doesn’t damage the tiles if it hits the pool floor at an angle,” says Simms. The new puck is manufactured by East Essex Tool Makers in Clacton, Essex, England.
Bayer Helps "Smart" Earplugs Prevent Hearing Loss
High technology, with the help of Bayer MaterialScience, allows Montreal-based Sonomax Hearing Healthcare, Inc. to successfully attack the highest occupational disease—noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
Sonomax developed and markets the Sonomax SolutionTM, a hearing protection system that succeeds where other systems fail. The high tech earplugs are injection molded from Bayer’s hypoallergenic silicone. The cord connecting the plugs is made from Texin® 285 resin and the cord safety-release anchors and the Full-Block filter inserts from Texin 245.
Noise—from loud factories to airport runways and rock and roll stages—is the leading cause of hearing loss. Today, NIHL causes as much as one-third of all hearing loss in North America despite the use of hearing protectors. In the U.S. alone NIHL takes an annual toll of $18 billion in treatment costs.
Traditional hearing protectors, including foam plugs and earmuffs, often fail because they don’t fit properly, or workers remove them due to discomfort or an inability to hold a conversation while they are wearing them.
“The reusable, custom-fitted hearing protectors are function-tested and quantified on the spot by interactive-based software,” Laperle said. “The system blocks out sound loud enough to cause hearing loss and still allows the worker to hear speech and other important sounds.”
Sonomax selected the Bayer materials for their balance of favorable characteristics: strength, elasticity and sensitivity, to name a few. “We’re proud of our association with Bayer,” says Laperle. “We’ve made the most sophisticated earplug in the world using the best materials in the world.”
Sonomax’s devices can be customized to block out the harmful or just plain irritating noise of everyday life—from subway cars to power lawnmowers or snoring. The rattle and screech of a subway train, for example, can generate noise as high as 105 decibels, and exposure to that noise level for only four minutes can destroy some measure of hearing.
Laperle notes that hearing loss from harmful noise "is as preventable as cavities or sunburn.” He sees the day when protecting our hearing will become as routine as brushing our teeth or using sunscreen.
For more information about Bayer MaterialScience in the NAFTA region, call 800-662-2927 or visit www.BayerMaterialScienceNAFTA.com. Contact Sonomax Hearing Healthcare at 1-877-SONOMAX or visit www.sonomax.com.
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