ERJ staff report (EPN)
By Barry Copping
At the PDM11 show, Elasto, a specialist in the development, manufacture and supply of custom-formulated TPEs, highlighted its development of a bespoke TPE compound for the successful British venture FlexyFoot.
The shock-absorbing, anti-slip FlexyFoot is designed to replace the old fashioned ferrule (or rubber tip) on crutches and walking sticks, with a view to revolutionising walking for the injured or infirm. FlexyFoot has been recognised as offering significant quality of life improvement for people reliant on walking aids.
FlexyFoot is the brainchild of product designer David Goodwin, who was inspired to invent it by his family. Both his sister, who has multiple sclerosis, and his 95 year old mother complained to him about the difficulties and discomfort of using their walking sticks. They also found the rubber ferrules wore down too quickly and were difficult to change.
Working with Goodwin and moulder Pentagon Plastics, Elasto developed a custom-formulated Dryflex TPE compound that offers improved abrasion resistance so as to withstand product wear and tear. The material structure of Dryflex TPE produces the high surface tackiness and high friction required in this application, helping the FlexyFoot tread to give a safe â€œgripâ€ even on slippery and wet surfaces.
Mark Griffiths, R&D manager for Elasto, commented: â€œIt was important for us to deliver a material that not only gave the correct feel and functionality but also delivered in terms of processing capability. The innovative materials and design used for FlexyFoot presented us with an unusual combination of challenges. Alongside Pentagon we worked on the melt flow to ensure precise filling of the mouldâ€.
FlexyFoot ranked number two in the British Healthcare Trades Association's Independent Living Design Awards for 2010. The awards celebrate the best healthcare and assistive technology products in the UK, with a view to enabling elderly and disabled people to lead more independent lives. Goodwin collected his award from Angela Rippon OBE, who was particularly inspired by the number of enthusiastic testimonials received from FlexyFoot users.
â€œThis is an exciting time for Elasto and projects of this nature are exactly what we want to get involved in. Promoting new business opportunities and supporting innovative projects is a key part of our business strategy,â€ commented Per G Hellberg, managing director at Elasto.
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Article from European Plastics News - a Crain publication