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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How we conquer the “waste mountain”

A recent report carried out by Material Focus resulted in some astounding and deeply concerning statistics. UK households and businesses alone produce 1.45 million tonnes of electrical waste a year and un-recycled household electricals cost over £370m a year in lost materials like gold, copper, aluminium and steel. Imagine this on a global scale and you get a stark picture of just how much of a problem mounting electronic waste is. Why?

Because mining metals causes pollution and impacts weightily on climate change. Toxic materials ending up in landfill leach into water courses, soil and air and become a huge long-term problem in the environment.

The recent coronavirus pandemic is in the process of kick starting a global recession. History has shown us that during these times of hardship in the past, consumers have been encouraged to spend, spend, spend and get the economy going again.

But considering this research, we ask is that really the right or the responsible approach?

We don’t need more of the same old stuff!

In reality, what we need is the ability to buy products that are made with reclaimed material and more easily repairable in the first instance, but failing that, are made easier to recycle at the end of their life. As consumers we have a right to consume, but also a duty to be considerate consumers and effective recyclers.

There are ways that help could be at hand here. Supporting local repair services and repair cafes will assist in tackling the mounting issue of global e-waste. Imagine if those forced into unemployment during the pandemic could upskill and utilise government apprenticeship schemes to learn how products work with a view of offering a fixing service to the product users. This kind of scenario would encourage employment and tackle the issue of e-waste head on.

Manufacturers could play their part and keep stock of spare parts, making these readily available to the ‘fixers’. Designers too have their part to play by creating new products with repair in mind; considering the ease of disassembly, material separation for recycling and intuitiveness to fix.

It might all sound rather idealistic but with so many points of intervention in the materials economy, if we all take a moment to unite and look at the part we play in it, we can see where we can be a part of the solution too.

Out of sight, out of mind is not a way to deal with this problem. The coronavirus outbreak has created its fair share of tragedy but we can also see it as a catalyst for positive change and a vital opportunity to reset our relationship with our planet.

Do you have an idea for a new adult pleasure product? Would you like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality? Get in touch today – we may just be able to help you.

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Private Inventor home truths

At some stage or another many of us will have an idea for a new product; a product which we believe will become the next great invention. This is very exciting but it is easy to be swept up in the excitement of being a private inventor and to count those chickens before they hatch.

Over the years we have talked to many private inventors and we always dread the calls from those inventors who have spent their precious resources only to end up with artistic CAD drawings of their product and a big cost milestone in their patent application. Sadly, this type of call often comes at a time when the private inventor has run out of money, out of time to secure investment and now face losing the exclusive rights to their own invention.

How does this happen?

Many private inventors cannot fund the entire process of bringing a product to the market and they require investment. Investment is not easy to secure. There are some companies who offer ‘help’ to private inventors by offering artistic CAD drawings and a patent application. The danger is to think that having a pretty picture with a patent application will be enough to get an investor on board. Is this really enough? An investor is looking at investment as a business risk; so they need to be convinced that their risk is manageable and there will be enough reward in taking that risk. So, what does an investor really look for when making their decision to invest?

• The investor will undertake due diligence using their own professional IP resource to establish if the intellectual property the inventor has is adequate (relevant, robust, defendable) and is worth maintaining.

• The investor will want properly researched and presented facts and figures to demonstrate the size of the potential market for the invention, and its competitive landscape. This will include a competitor’s analysis and a patent landscape, ideally with a freedom to operate analysis.

• The investor will want to know the costs of developing the invention into a manufactured product. Development can involve considerable expenditure in prototypes, tooling, testing, compliance and approvals.

• The investor will want to know costs of branding, packaging, marketing, stock holding and distribution.

To put it simply, investors need to be presented with a properly designed and costed product supported by robust intellectual property.

At Sated Design we have a team of design and engineering experts who all share a passion for creating successful products. We are supported by Chartered UK Patent Attorneys from world class intellectual property firms. Our track record is proven by hundreds of products and thousands of component parts taken from the first sketch all the way through to manufacturing, sometimes in their millions.

If you have an idea for a great new pleasure product, contact us today.

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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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Adult toys using new materials

New materials for Adult Toys

We have seen all sorts of  new materials that are used with adult sex toys. Glass, wood and stone are some of the recent favourites but we never expected to see a faux wood effect. The jury is out on this one for us because we see innovation being more than a cosmetic wrapping.

Sex Toy Material Selection

It is always important to select the correct material for a product or certain parts of a product. Selecting materials to be used in sex toys are no exception. The material is key to creating the sex toy experience from glass toys that are smooth and rigid to silicone sex toys that are flexible and can be textured. Further developments in silicone materials feature the ability to conduct low levels of electricity which create a very unique experience. All materials used in sex toys need to be safe to use with the skin and at Sated Design our extensive knowledge and experience with material will ensure we can help you to create an innovative, exciting and safe product.

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