Optical Testing of Condoms

Period of Performance: 05/01/2002 - 12/31/2004


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Princeton Scientific Instruments, Inc.
7 Deer Park Drive,, Suite C
Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (Applicant's abstract verbatim): A prototype optical testing machine for condoms will be built and tested, first in the laboratory and later on loan to condom manufacturers. Unlike standard electrical testing, the machine will be able to separately identify pinhole, thin region, and embedded particle defects. It will offer quantitative measurements (rather than simply accept/reject decisions) and will lend itself to precisely marking the locations of defects. The latter capability, together with the non-destructive nature of the test itself, will be of very high value in Quality Assurance efforts to understand the nature and causes of defects, and in defect prevention generally. As was demonstrated in Phase I, the new machine will be able to test not only latex, but also polyurethane condoms. (The two have different optical properties.) Currently, pinhole testing of polyurethane condoms is done by a pneumatic differential pressure technique that is cumbersome and expensive to use. Optical testing would offer the advantage of common, convenient application to both latex and polyurethane products. Further, the unique ability of the optical test techniques to detect thin regions and embedded particles, and to localize defects, will have strong appeal to the industry. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: The proposed system will be immediately useful in the Quality Assurance laboratories of all manufacturers of condoms. It will be especially appealing to manufacturers of non- latex condoms. It will be useful in central R & D and product development facilities, and in compliance labs. Once the new techniques are accepted, it is expected that the optical testing could be adapted to high rate screening testing in the factories. (Typically, a factory may have 15 to 20 such test machines in use.)