Dr. Brian Comeau is Director, Materials Research, Titleist Golf Ball Research and Development, based in Fairhaven. As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic spread, he and his team went to work trying to determine how they could best help the frontline health workers and first responders.
Comeau believed they could formulate elastic strap material from a similar thermoplastic urethane formulation (TPU) used in the development of golf ball covers. By screening materials already on hand in the lab, the team quickly identified an ESTANE® TPU material from Lubrizol Engineered Polymers that would work. Lubrizol graciously donated material to support the cause. The original plan was for Acushnet to donate the elastic strap to a local mask makers group, but they went in a different direction and it wasn’t required. Undeterred, Comeau proactively sought out other organizations that could benefit from the material for use in the development of masks or face shields.
“I knew the material could be helpful in making PPE,” said Comeau. “It does not contain any latex or natural rubber, which is not desired by medical workers for skin contact. It was also ideal because we could make the elastic strap in a wide variety of widths and thicknesses, and as flat tape or round cord.”
Developing their own formulation, Comeau’s team re-engineered a lab extruder to produce elastic strap instead of plastic pellets and generated over 15,000 feet of ¾” face shield strap. The strap is being donated to O’Sullivan Films in Winchester, Virginia, and will be used in conjunction with their Press Polish product to produce face shields for the COVID-19 cause. The face shields will then be donated to first responders and healthcare organizations in need of PPE. The R&D team is still actively looking for additional outlets for their elastic strap material.
The participating team members from Acushnet included Brian Pederson, who operates the extruder, and Glenn Grenier, who engineered the take-off system, as well as Mark Binette, Dennis Britton, Donny Serino, Rob Blink, Erin McDermott and Teddy Costa.
“This is another of example of Acushnet associates stepping up and trying to figure out ways they can help during this time of need,” said Mike Sullivan, Senior Vice President, Golf Ball R&D. “We appreciate the effort and initiative by Brian and his team, and we are working across the company on additional opportunities to help the cause.”