The truth about micro plastics

“Snowing plastic” in the Arctic; Microplastic pollution near to the summit of Wales’s highest mountain. Plastic Pollution may have been a topic of discussion for some time but the full extent of its impact on the environment needs urgent action to understand and mitigate.

According to a recent article, in Europe alone, approximately 42,000 tonnes of intentionally added microplastics are released into the environment annually. Finding this material in remote locations such as the ones mentioned above is deeply concerning.

The European Commission believed they had the answer in preparing to introduce a ban on the use of microplastics in cosmetics, detergents and paint products produced and sold in the EU. However, there is now a fear that the result of this ban will be a swap for even smaller nano plastic material that could potentially be more toxic and more harmful.

This news is incredibly frustrating. Micro plastics have been found in almost all environments that have been investigated worldwide so this problem is very real and isn’t going to go away. It appears that currently, finding a true solution is hampered by a documented “significant knowledge gap”. If this is the case, how can a way forward be found?

For those of us in an industry which works with plastic every day, it is imperative that we try to act positively to improve the use and reduce the burden of unwanted plastic. We need a clear plan of action from our government, which is based on a collective, well informed opinion that spans the globe. It is irresponsible to make recommendations that have not been fully risk assessed by agencies who have the knowledge to successfully carry these out.

The fact that plastic material is being found in the remotest parts of our world means that time is of the essence and we need that solution now.

We are a full service agency who are very conscious of the part we play in tackling the environmental costs of launching new products. If you are likeminded and would like a little help through the journey of making your pleasure product a desirable reality, get in touch today – we may just be able to help you.

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The Power of Prototyping

Why use prototypes in your new Adult Toy development?

Providing a link between a world of virtual design and real life, a prototype is a vital way of testing designs. 2D images do have a place in the designing process but there is no substitute for holding something real in your hand, no more so than when developing an adult toy. Our prototypes offer extremely high levels of accuracy and intricacy resulting from the application of modern prototyping techniques such as high resolution 3D printing, computer controlled machining and casting of medical grade elastomers. Our prototyping techniques can provide stunning results.

For a Sex Toy developer, a prototype is a preliminary version of the intended product and can be used not only for user testing but also to sign-off on important factors such as the form and feel of the product, or to inform the designer of necessary adjustments to mechanisms or tolerances of parts for performance and assembly. The prototype can also help the project stake-holders to make the best decisions for the project and optimise the development journey leading up to manufacture and launch. It is therefore vital to clearly define the purpose for the prototype as this is key to how a prototype should be prepared and can save unwarranted work.

Naturally, the final product will be a part of an intimate human interaction, but the sooner that user/product experience is evaluated, then the better that interaction can be. It is impossible to overstate how important prototyping is to ensuring an effective product design and development process, delivering the optimum results and ultimately a great end-user experience.

Here at Sated Design we have in-house prototyping capabilities alongside a large catalogue of external suppliers for all manner of prototyping services, enabling our expert model-makers to produce competitively priced, high-quality prototypes for the Adult-Toy Industry within tight deadlines.

Do you have an idea for an adult toy?

If you do, or if you want to compliment one of your current designs, or are even just looking for a fresh perspective on a current product, please contact the team here at Sated Design.

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What happens to E-Waste?

Electronic products are all around us today. In fact if you’re reading this article then you’re looking at one right now. But what happens when these products reach the end of their life, or are made obsolete by newer tech? This is a question with two outcomes, good news and bad news. We would all agree that we absolutely must do something to deal with E-Waste. The bad news is that the results of that process often cause damage we do not see or choose to ignore. The way we deal with our E-Waste must be something we are all made aware of so we really understand the true cost of that new smart phone or TV.

Products like smart phones, IT equipment and home appliances are advancing so rapidly in their capabilities that they become redundant within months of their launch. Many homes and businesses are disposing of old tech products and the question is what can be done with these container loads of E-Waste?

E-Waste contains many valuable materials which can be recovered, such as gold, silver, copper, tin and palladium. The process for recycling electronic goods is similar to other more general recycling processes, following a path of collection, transportation, sorting and separation. Waste is collected and sent to a processing plant where items are manually sorted and disassembled, with parts like batteries removed and sent to specialist facilities.

Items that can’t be dismantled efficiently are shredded into smaller pieces and then spread out on conveyor belts using a shaking process. A high power magnet then sorts out the ferrous metals and further mechanical processes separate the metals from non-metals. A water separation process then divides the remaining plastic and glass materials.

Glass from cathode ray tubes (CRTs) commonly found in televisions and monitors contain more hazardous materials like lead, barium and phosphor. Processing these items is more complex, with extra washing and sorting steps to remove oxides and phosphors and to separate leaded and non-leaded glass.

Smelting is used to recover metals like gold, silver, tin and copper from PCBs and nickel, steel, cadmium and cobalt from batteries.

This is the good news part of the story because it results in a reasonable percentage of resources recovered. The bad news is that the predicted 50 million metric tons of E-Waste produced this year alone will create a big problem despite much of it being capable of being repaired or reused. The majority of it ends up in landfill or is incinerated, E-Waste is often legally and illegally exported to countries like China, India and Nigeria due to absence of more rigorous regulation. Once there, toxic materials like lead, arsenic and mercury leach into the water course, soil and air to become a huge long term problem in the environment affecting plants, animals and humans. The residents of Guiyu in China (an area known for recycling E-Waste) have the highest reported level of lead and dioxin found in people globally.

Out of sight and out of mind is not the way to deal with this problem. There is no easy answer but the majority of us are buyers of electronic products and we need to demand products that are easier to recycle and made with reclaimed material. Only then will product designers, not accountants get to set the design brief for how products should end their life.

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Choosing a plastic Part 2

Which plastic should I choose?

There are literally thousands of different plastics and plastic alloys, with more being added to the list monthly. sex-toy-plasticsBelow are a selection of the plastics you will encounter in products you use every day.

Generalised qualities of some plastics?

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)

A polymer of styrene (providing a shiny, impervious surface), polybutadiene (for rubbery toughness), and nitrile monomers (which bind the chains together for additional strength), ABS is commonly used for lightweight injection mouldings such as remote controls, automotive trim, and toys.
* Poor UV-resistance
* Poor stress cracking resistance
* Low water absorption
* Good resistance for diluted acids and bases
* Good oil resistance
* Good scratch resistance
* High surface hardness
* Good impact strength

Polyethylene (PE)

A semi-crystalline thermoplastic with a high degree of toughness and very good chemical resistance. When compared to other plastics, it exhibits low mechanical strength and temperature resistance, however this can be improved by using grades with higher molecular weights. Primarily used in packaging, it is also used in varying grades for piping, chopping boards and even knee replacements.
* Low density compared to other materials
* High impact resistance, even at low temperatures
* Good resistance to wear
* Minimal moisture absorption
* Excellent chemical resistance
* High corrosion resistance
* Non-stick

Polypropylene (PP)

Another semi-crystalline thermoplastic, which resembles HDPE, but exhibits higher strength, rigidity and hardness. PP is, however, sensitive to impact at temperatures below freezing point. The chemical resistance is comparable to PE. PP is widely used in applications from flip-top bottle caps, furniture, rebar supports, and alternatives to laboratory glassware.
* Low density compared to other materials
* Minimal moisture absorption
* Excellent chemical resistance, even to solvents (but this means labels may not adhere to it)
* Highly corrosion resistant
* Relatively high superficial hardness

Nylon 6

Although Nylon was originally developed as an alternative to silk, modern grades of nylon are extremely versatile and can be used in engineering applications such as gears, engine fittings, and even toothbrush bristles. Other grades of Nylon (Nylon 12) are used in cosmetics and sports apparel.
* Balanced toughness and rigidity
* Capacity for hardness level adjustment
* Extremely high impact strength, also down to -40°C
* Good abrasion and wear resistance
* High energy and shock absorption
* No brittle fractures under pressure or impact loads
* Extreme wall thickness variations can be realized in the moulded component
* Ready integration of inserts and reinforcement materials and fillers

For help in readying your design for manufacture, and ensuring that your materials selections are optimal, contact Sated Design and discuss your project with us.

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Choosing Plastics Part 1

adult-toy-plasticsChoosing the right plastic for your application can be a fraught exercise, with many different criteria and considerations to bear in mind. Sated Design have the benefit of 50 years combined experience in designing plastic components and products and can help you navigate this crucial process.

Important factors when selecting polymers:

  • Thermal stress – can your product or component survive service without melting or fatiguing?
  • Mechanical stress (yield strength, tensile strength, fatigue strength, crack resistance) – how strong, durable, rigid or elastic does the material need to be?
  • Tribological stress (friction, lubrication and wear) – how much will the component rub or wear down?
  • Chemical stress (resistance to attack by water/oils/acids/alkalines/detergents/solvents) – can it resist damage from chemicals in its environment?
  • Electrical requirements (resistivity/conductivity) – some plastics are excellent at insulating electricity, which may be vital for meeting product safety requirements. Other plastics allow electrical charge to flow through them, which may be useful for delicate instruments.
  • Optical requirements (light transmission %, clarity, frequency v opacity) – while many plastics are ‘clear’, there are varying degrees of clarity and transmission, which may be crucial for cosmetic or optical applications.
  • Combustibility and burn (glow wire, UL V rating, toxicology of smoke) – the resistance of plastics to burning, and their danger once alight are vital factors in designing safe products. Even the acridity and thickness of smoke can be a consideration when designing for public spaces.
  • Weather resistance (extremes of temperature, water absorption) – will you product be used in a Scandinavian winter, or a summer in the Sahara? Or both? Many plastics will absorb water, which may affect their mechanical performance.
  • Radiation exposure (UV and gamma) – not all grades of thermoplastics are suitable for outdoor applications. Materials that are not UV stable will change both in appearance and molecular structure when exposed to UV, and over time can become brittle, crack, change colour, warp and suffer stress crack formation.
  • Physiological safety (food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, wearable) – some plastics contain or leech harmful chemicals. Strict standards must be met for ensuring that plastic products are safe for humans.
  • Environmental safety (biodegradability, ecological contamination) – PLA will decompose within 90 days to form CO2 and water. PVC does not readily decompose, and when it does it releases toxins.
  • Recycling during production and at end of life – moulding plastics creates waste in the form of sprues and scrap. How this waste, as well as the end product is disposed of are important to consider.
  • Cost for purchase and cost for processing – as well as the cost of the raw material, the amount of time the material takes to fill the tool and cool all adds cost.
  • Processing and handling requirements and manufacturers preferences for drying/handling/masterbatching – special colours, alloys or additives may need to be custom mixed. Degradable plastics and those with hygroscopic characteristics may need special storage or treatment.
  • Special factors – UL yellow card certification, colour availability due to additives, compatibility with adhesives and joining techniques. There are any number of other factors which will influence materials selection, and each design specification is different.

Benefit from Sated Design’s 50+ years of plastics experience to help you make the best selection for your project.

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