SBIR Phase I: High-performance Polymer Composites for Mouth Guards
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
Akervall Technologies Inc
5520 Stone Valley Drive, Ann Arbor, MI, 48105-2334
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project addresses the urgent need for new mouth guard materials that provide better protection. Despite widespread use of mouth guards in sports, there are more than 1 million dental injuries per year costing $500 million in the US alone. Akervall Technologies Inc. proposes a novel materials concept where solid/liquid suspensions are incorporated into thermoplastic polymers. The research objectives are to: (1) synthesize non-Newtonian solid/liquid suspensions that are chemically compatible with thermoplastic polymers; (2) characterize the physical properties and rheology behavior of the suspensions; (3) incorporate the suspensions into polymers and measure the ability of the resulting materials composite to absorb impact energy under typical sports or intubation scenarios; (4) fine tune and match the properties of the material for impact energy absorption to optimize the protection for a specific sport or medical application. Anticipated results include proof of concept of a revolutionary approach to impact energy absorption in mouth guards, and novel materials formulations providing the basis for next-generation mouth guard technology. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to introduce a new concept for dental protection and to overcome the lack of consumer acceptance of currently available bulky and uncomfortable mouth guards. The worldwide market for mouth guards is about $500 million per year, and could exceed $ 1 billion/year if consumer acceptance of mouth guards could be increased. This project sets the stage for the design and fabrication of a thin and flexible mouth guard that is very comfortable to wear, while providing much better protection than existing mouth guards. It will be the first and only mouth guard that can be tuned and optimized for a specific application based on fundamental research on tunable solid/liquid suspensions. The introduction oft this unique mouth guard technology will position the company to reach for a significant market share and will lead to job creation as the company plans to build a new manufacturing facility for producing this mouth guard. The company is committed to hiring a diverse work force and to invest into community outreach, to make especially the youth aware of why it is so important to wear mouth guards in sports activities.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.