AG Industries and Universal Air Filter (UAF) recently collaborated to develop a new product, the Caire O2 Sieve Bed Filter. When faced with a change to the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulation standards, AG Industries teamed up with Universal Air Filter to develop a flame retardant sieve bed filter to meet the needs of an existing AG customer.
As leaders in the filtration industry, AG manufactures respiratory replacement filters and accessories, and UAF specializes in air filters and
EMI shielding products. The dual expertise in filtration allowed a quick turnaround in brainstorming a viable solution to adhere to the new RoHS standards. AG’s customer requested the development of flame retardant sieve bed filters for use in their oxygen concentrators to comply with the new regulations. Oxygen concentrators deliver filtered oxygen to patients requiring respiratory assistance. Previously, no flame retardant standards existed for the filters, meaning the development of a flame resistant product would require innovation.
When air flows into an oxygen concentrator, it passes through a series of filters, including the sieve bed filters, located on either side of the sieve tube. These filters allow incoming air to flow freely in and out while simultaneously keeping the sieve bed material confined inside the tube.
The sieve tubes are filled with Zeolite, which adheres to the nitrogen in the air, separating it from the purified oxygen that passes through the machine to the patient. The nitrogen is then expelled from the machine back into the surrounding atmosphere. The normal foam used to create the filters, sourced from Crest Foam, did not pass Crest Foam’s in-house flammability tests.
This is when AG turned to UAF to enhance the product. AG President & CEO Mike Amann approached UAF President Todd Deibel and Manager of Product Development Mark Schwent for their partnership. AG Industries and UAF had joined forces on past projects, a collaboration that stems from understanding each other’s capabilities and company values.
“We are similar businesses when it comes to meeting the customer’s needs. This product was within one of our core strengths, which is adding flame retardant to polyurethane foam. It was rewarding to help out another FGC business unit,” said Schwent.
The biggest challenge in developing the flame resistant Caire O2 Sieve Bed Filters was ensuring the product would meet the new standards without compromising functionality.
In other words, air flow through the filter needed to be maintained. UAF applied a proprietary coating to the foam, converting the highly flammable polyurethane foam into a non-flammable air filter material.
The coated foam was then put through several burn tests to confirm it would meet the UL 94 HBF flammability standard. In addition to the successful collaboration, the development of the Caire O2 Sieve Bed Filters reinforced AG’s commitment to customer service. The client’s needs were not only met, but in remarkable timing. According to Amann, “The whole project came together in less than three weeks and the manufacturing of the product should take place within five weeks. It was a feat of collaboration made possible by the dedication of everyone involved.”
AG & UAF have also reaped benefits from a business perspective. The proprietary flame retardant feature will allow for premium pricing and increased margin, as each oxygen concentrator employs a total of eight sieve bed filters. With the product locked into their portfolio, AG now sits in a good market position for future opportunities.