Summary | Using new material and technology , Ricoh helped modify a popular hygiene product fora foreign market.
The problem | Vernacare are an award-winning company which specialises in innovative toileting and cleansing products for the care industry. Maxi and Midi slipper pans are long-established paper pulp products in the Vernacare range. The wedge-shaped products assist staff with the toileting needs of patients with severely limited mobility.
However, the French market is more accustomed to using plastic and steel slipper pans rather than the pulp one-use versions we typically see in the UK.
French slipper pans also tend to have a pocket shape at the front to eliminate spillages, which is not something that can be achieved in a single-piece pulp moulding due to draft angles.
The solution | Working with Ricoh, a new design was developed in CAD which consisted of three parts: the paper pulp slipper pan, pocket insert and a rotationally moulded support, to resemble something familiar to French buyers.
Using Ricoh’s additive manufacturing services, prototypes were produced on the AM S5500P Selective Laser Sintering printer in a range of materials.
After several materials were ruled out through testing, Ricoh suggested using its own polypropylene material. Vernacare were immediately impressed by what could be achieved with a 3D printed part. The new material was very tough but also ductile, meaning it ticked the boxes for comfort as well as durability. Ricoh also hollowed the support out to replicate a finished rotationally-moulded part.
Thanks to the use of Ricoh’s 3D printing services, pulp moulding tools have been created to allow the production of usable samples for field trials, as well as 10 iterations of the pulpsupport design . Each design has been sent along with pulp samples to various locations worldwide for field trials.