Material matters in successful development of emergency oxygen device

R15 oxygen At PlasticsToday, we often point to the primacy of materials selection for the successful outcome of a product development project, but then, we’re biased. So, we’re always delighted when our materials-centered mindset is validated by a third party. A case study published by PolyOne Corp. (Avon Lake, OH) recounts how its materials expertise helped a company develop a non-explosive, portable emergency oxygen device suitable for use in public places.

The R15 from Rapid Oxygen (Stamford, CT) is designed to deliver 100% humidified oxygen for 15 minutes at 6 liters per minute in an easy-to-use package that doesn’t require a power source. Rapid Oxygen founder Dr. Richard Imbruce envisioned it as an alternative to high-pressure oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators and liquid oxygen, all of which could be unsuitable for buildings and public spaces.

“We understood the technology, the chemistry and the marketplace,” said Imbruce about the product, “but we needed someone with healthcare expertise to help with material selection and problem solving.”

The injection molding operations of Smith & Wesson Precision Components (SWPC) were chosen to mold components for the R15. SWPC, in turn, recommended longtime supplier PolyOne as a source for the material selection expertise and guidance Rapid Oxygen needed.

PolyOne’s team determined that the reactive ingredients needed to be separated until activation, at which point the chemical reaction had to be safely and properly managed. The materials also had to resist high temperatures while maintaining their shape, and the device housing and its components had to perform reliably and appeal to consumers from appearance and ease-of-use standpoints. Finally, the device had to pass all of the requirements of a regulated medical device.

Drawing on its team’s healthcare expertise, PolyOne was able to offer unbiased recommendations for materials that could safely handle the chemical reaction and meet needs for portability, light weight and user friendliness. Polycarbonate, high-density polyethylene, a PC/ABS blend and color concentrate were selected to meet the impact resistance, dimensional stability, high temperature tolerance and chemical resistance requirements.

The early involvement of polymer selection experts and close collaboration with PolyOne’s distribution department allowed Rapid Oxygen to stay focused on the efficacy of the device while getting help with challenges such as the design’s effect on manufacturing, materials-related regulatory issues, manufacturing process efficiency and supply chain continuity, said PolyOne in the case study.

The R15 portable oxygen system is available over the counter for use in the workplace, home settings and public places. “The R15 belongs beside every AED and fire extinguisher as it may help to save lives,” stresses Rapid Oxygen on its website.

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