Culver City, CA--Can a hearing protector be jazzed up? Buy a new protector introduced by Moldex-Metric Inc. and you will definitely see the difference.
Moldex features a basic headband-type hearing protector, the Pura Band, which is a simple, injection-molded unit made of polypropylene. However, the company felt that the product required a "makeover" of sorts, and sought a design that would be unique in appearance and functional at the same time. The unanimous decision was to "jazz it up." The result: the Jazz(TM) Band.
"After getting full backing from our management team, we got marketing involved and laid out a plan to execute the program for the new product," notes Dan Dix, project engineer/research & development for Moldex. "What we sought was something similar to two-material, soft-grip toothbrushes that combine enhanced aesthetic features with a soft touch and a 'grippy' feel."
Moldex determined that the solution was to keep the hard thermoplastic construction, and incorporate a soft thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) into the design.
At this point, Moldex called in GLS Corp. (Cary, IL) personnel for design help. GLS has had a long working relationship with Moldex. Recently, GLS introduced a new series of TPE alloys known as Versaflex(TM). The line features several grades ideal for overmolding onto some grades of polycarbonate, ABS, and glass-filled nylon substrates.
However, engineers discovered that the hearing protector design required a custom material due to stringent production needs (a specific Shore hardness, good flow, minimal flash) and the need to meet a Noise Reduction Rating of 25.
"This project turned out to be one of the first commercial applications for our new Versaflex OM alloys," reports John Marshall, GLS marketing manager. "These alloys represent a new alternative for engineers who are seeking a versatile TPE material to meet specific applications."
The new design features a pearlized-blue polycarbonate unit with an overmolded fluorescent-green TPE. In addition, it incorporates AdB-coated (an exclusive Moldex technology) soft foam "pods" that comfortably seal off the ear canal. The coating also acts as a barrier to reduce sound transmission and repel dirt. It can even be washed and reused.