NEW ORLEANS (Sept. 27, 10:05 a.m. ET) — When JonesZylon Co. talks about designing for product safety, it is looking at very different conditions than most firms' testing requirements.
The company, based in West Lafayette, Ohio, makes institutional dining trays, plates, cups and mugs for large-volume users like hospitals and schools.
And correctional institutions.
The use in prisons has prompted the company to work with PolyOne Corp.'s GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers group to develop a specialized TPE formula to keep food-service items from being turned into weapons.
“We wanted to be the first-to-market [company] with a great solution to the safety challenges of conventional food-service materials,” said Todd Kohl, president of JonesZylon.
PolyOne showed the finished product during the Industrial Designers Society of America conference, held Sept. 14-17 in New Orleans.
Food trays for prisons must meet the same Food and Drug Administration food-contact requirements as other trays. But standard trays made of rigid plastics can, in a prison, end up being broken down and sharpened into dangerous instruments.
Silicone would meet safety and health concerns, but is expensive.
PolyOne, JonesZylon and the tray's molder — Controlled Molding Inc. of Hadley, Penn. — worked together to formulate a proprietary TPE blend that would meet all the standards.
JonesZylon is offering nearly all varieties of its food trays in that blend, called Max-Flex, as well as previous designs using polycarbonate and copolymer blends.
A line of transparent lids made of Max-Flex is designed to prevent inmates from hiding contraband.
Also, graffiti can be removed easily from the surface and the lids stand up to institutional dishwashing, according to the companies.