igus® component helps students design award-winning child-proof lock

November 6, 2018 Kerri Whelan

Students from a prestigious technical university in Germany developed a child safety lock for cleaning agent bottles that includes a self-lubricating igus® bearing.

A seven-student team at the TU Darmstadt’s Electrical and Information Technology used the iglide® A350 plain bearing for the lock. The lock is screwed onto the bottle, and secure access is ensured via an app. The innovative lock won second place in Cosima, a prominent German student competition for microsystems. The Young Engineers Support (Y.E.S.) program at igus®, designed to foster mechanical design ideas of students, supported the project.

"We approached the Young Engineers Support from igus® with our project because we were looking for a bearing that has a low coefficient of friction and is resistant to acids and alcohol," said Ida Blum, a member of the product development team. "In addition, the bearing must withstand temperatures of up to 125 degrees Celsius due to the heating of the actuator. That's why we chose iglide® A350." 

3D Printed Safety Device

The safety device is, for the most part, 3D printed and consists of a housing which is placed over the lid of a cleaning agent bottle. It engages with a cover plate under the plastic ring of the bottle. Using a lever, the cover plate can be moved manually and the device can be secured.

The closing mechanism consists of an electro-thermal actuator. Its current feed heats and deforms so that the safety device opens and can be removed from the bottle. The actuator is attached to a pin. By turning the lever, the pin mounted with the iglide® plain bearing engages and prevents an unauthorized opening. The iglide® A350 bearing is also frequently used in food, medical and packaging industries.

To open the backup, a self-programmed app is used, which gives the device an opening signal after a password request. The actuator is energized by a power control and heats up. The heating deforms the material of the actuator and the pin is pulled out of the fuse. The device can be opened and removed from the bottle. Access to the cleaning agent is guaranteed. After using the cleaning agent, the device is re-inserted over the lid of the bottle and activates the locking mechanism. The device is then protected against unauthorized access and thus prevents children from ingesting the harmful content.

igus® helping students make a change

Nearly 94,000 calls are made each year to the Poison Information Center in Germany for burns and intoxication of children due to household cleaners. The students said data from the Federal Institute of Risk Assessment shows poisoning and chemical burns caused by detergents, disinfectants and pesticides are the most frequent causes of accidents involving children between the ages of 7 months to 4 years.

“When researching bottle and canister closures, we were astonished to find that while there are some anti-theft counterfeiting models for retailers, there are no safeguards against accidental or abusive use, other than known mechanisms such as push-and-turn closures,’’ the students wrote on the competition website

The students’ university, TU Darmstadt, is a research school that was founded in 1877 and now has more than 26,000 students. It was the first university to create a chair in electrical engineering, and its alumni include two Nobel laureates.

Innovative university projects such as child safety lock are supported by the igus® Young Engineers Support program. The initiative supports young students and inventors in the development and execution of their technical projects with free products, expertise and catalogues. Further information on Y.E.S. can be found at https://www.igus.com/info/company-yes-ca.

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