An innovative inflatable clear plastic vehicle isolation screening system to provide personal protection from COVID-19 transfer has been rapidly developed and launched by the Dutch manufacturer, Buitink Technology. The new Buitink Inflatable Car Screen (BICS ®) product range, available in sizes to fit most passenger cars and vans, has a worldwide patent pending. Buitink Technology’s clever design makes it very quick and easy to install and remove BICS protection barriers, with no requirement for drilling or special tools. This novel, patented vehicle isolation system enables commercial, public sector and private vehicle drivers and passengers to travel more safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reducing the risk of infection.
The BICS product design can be adapted for virtually any passenger car, private taxi cab, chauffeur car, MPV, transporter or commercial van. There is a BICS design to separate front and rear occupants and another to provide a partition between the driver and a front passenger. Front and rear vehicle isolation protection can be easily installed in a matter of minutes using a bicycle pump or mini compressor and the supplied straps; when not required, the BICS isolation screens can be quickly deflated, removed from a vehicle, cleaned and flat packed away until needed again.
All of Buitink Technology’s BICS product designs are manufactured from a thin (~0.2mm) but durable, Tuftane® thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) flexible plastic film, produced by UK manufacturer, Permali. For some years, Permali has been supplying Tuftane TPU products to Buitink Technology for a variety of other barrier and inflatable membrane product development applications.
High clarity Tuftane TFL-2Z TPU film is the grade specified for the BICS main screen panel and the integrated inflatable securing frame; when filled with air, the fully inflated clear outer ring tightly holds the isolation screen in position inside the vehicle. Depending on the type of BICS design, various built-in eyelets and fixing straps with quick release end hooks are included in the supplied system to hold the inflated screen in place, with no need to drill additional fixture points.
Tuftane elastomeric films are proven barrier materials, used in a wide variety of medical equipment and healthcare products, including personal protection equipment (PPE) such as surgical gloves, gowns, aprons, clear isolation drapes and hoods. All Tuftane TPU grades are formulated and blown film extruded by Permali, supplied to manufacturers on a roll, slit to width and rewound to order to optimise material utilisation and minimise scrap.
For BICS products, Tuftane TFL-2Z film grade was recommended by Permali as it provides the best combination of physical and mechanical properties for the application. Tuftane TFL- 2Z is a highly conformable, flexible and 100% transparent film, with high puncture and tear resistance, even as thin as 200 microns (0.2mm). Critically, for the BICS product design, Tuftane TPU films can be welded to provide the strong, impermeable, leak free, inflatable outer ring frame section of the protection screen.
Permali’s Sales and Marketing Director, Fraser Rankin commented: “From the initial contact with Buitink Technology about this application, being COVID-19 PPE related, we gave this project a high priority. Within 10 working days the Permali team identified the best Tuftane grade and thickness for the application, provided sample materials and shipped the first Tuftane TFL-2Z order of 100m by 1.5 wide rolls to The Netherlands.”
The BICS vehicle isolation system is simple, versatile and practical, particularly for safe commercial use, such as in a taxi. Being a totally transparent system, driver visibility is unrestricted and the Tuftane film is thin enough to enable a passenger to hear and talk to the driver and even pay as usual through the screen by mobile phone or contactless card. The Tuftane plastic film has good chemical resistance to commonly used antibacterial cleaning products and disinfectants, with no loss of clarity over repeated cleaning.
The BICS system is also proving ideal for other commercial businesses wanting to restart which need to provide personal protection from COVID-19 infection, such as car dealers wanting to offer safe vehicle viewing and test driving or for learner drivers to be able to safely go out with an instructor and driving test examiner.
Biutink Technology has created a range of standard screen sizes for specific models and makes of cars, which are supplied flat-packed in a box, ready to install. Biutink Technology’s Managing Director, Rienk de Vries explains: “We spent a lot of time before the launch developing a wide range of BICS product templates in sizes to fit specific vehicle makes and models, including all the popular cars, MPVs and vans used as private taxis. You simply tell us your car model details or licence plate and we supply the right BICS size you need. We also custom make BICS products if we don’t have an existing size which will fit, or if it is for a specialty vehicle.”
The BICS system is not just for passenger cars and taxis. The patented design concept can be adapted to provide isolation screening for different types and models of public transport and passenger carrying vehicles, including buses, coaches and police vehicles.