Tampa, FL -Storybook evidence suggests that children like their food just right-neither too hot nor too cold. But it's the "too hot" that causes the most worry, with babies. Now a baby spoon made from temperature-sensing plastic takes at least some of the guesswork out of feeding.
Fittingly called the Too Hot Spoon, it features a bowl-end made from a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) with a proprietary "thermo-chromic" additive that changes color in response to temperature. When subjected to temperatures in excess of 104.7F, "the primary bowl color disappears, leaving a nearly-clear, milky white," says Wayne Albright, the spoon's designer and vice president of its maker, Questech International Inc. Albright adds that the change takes place "within seconds," allowing parents to test a bowl of food en route from stove to highchair.
Questech makes the spoons in a variety of bright colors with its palette limited only by the need to use a clear base resin in order to have a color shift that is both consistent and dramatic. "For example, if we made the spoon in a Barney purple,'" says Albright, "then the bowl would change to a pink rather than a white."
Aside from its color-shifting capabilities, the use of TPE (from GLS Corp., Cary, IL) offers some tactile advantage. Albright says the 40 Shore A compound Questech uses balances stiffness needed by any spoon with the soft-touch and "jab protection" desirable in a baby product.
Questech's manufacturing firm, Yi Shing (Hong Kong), molds the TPE compound over a rigid polypropylene handle in a multi-shot molding process. Previous spoons, which did have built in temperature sensing capabilities, were a one-material, one-piece part that required greater quantities of the expensive color-shifting material and offered a more limited color palette.