Iowa Patent of the Month – April 2022

Babies have been teething for centuries and parents have been on the hunt for a good teething toy for just as long. Plastic toys have been a great option since they can be fabricated with a texture that helps relieve gum pain and are also easy to sanitize. One drawback is the smell and taste of plastic. Often chemical and unpleasant, many children reject these toys in favor of a “yummier” option. Lil’ Sidekick has recently developed a teether with long lasting flavor, to keep your baby interested and engaged.

Some methods of flavoring plastic have been tested by simply coating the plastic with a flavor oil or powder during fabrication. These solutions are normally not long-lasting as the flavor does not reliably adhere to the material or might vaporize away.

Lil’ Sidekick utilizes natural flavors with stevia. Stevia is a natural, non-nutritive sweetener which contains no calories and has been deemed highly unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. The flavor mixture is then combined with heated plastic beads in a tumbling device. Combining the flavor at this point in the teether’s fabrication ensures the plastic is infused with the flavor mixture. Since they utilize a natural flavoring, their teethers are fabricated with low-melting temperature plastic which ensures the flavor is sustained throughout fabrication. Changing the ratio of flavoring to plastic beads controls the intensity of flavor. Once the flavor is infused as desired, the plastic beads can go through a traditional fabrication process, melting, molding, and shaping the teething toy. 

While this process can be applied to any plastic that would benefit from flavor (e.g. retainers, mouthguards etc.), Lil’ Sidekick’s teether is molded with a final texture that optimizes fum soothing. Multiple textures are included to best soothe front, back, and side teething. Their teether has shown to maintain flavor up to 2 years making it one of the longest lasting flavored plastics on the market.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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