DIAB Divinycell sandwish composite aid safe transportation

Sandwich composites aid safe transportation of newly born babies

The BAC Group (Toowoomba, Queensland) is one of Australia’s leading producers of engineered composites. In addition to manufacturing composite components, BAC is able to undertake design, structural analysis, prototyping and CNC tooling.

The range of products and components it produces is as diverse as the industries it serves. Everything from light aircraft and industrial tanks to caravans, boats and composite components for the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins Class submarines. It has also been active in producing specialist medical equipment such as the Mobile Intensive Rescue Facility (MIRF) and the Mansell Neocot.

Manufactured and marketed by the BAC Group, the Mansell Neocot is a lightweight, life-support system that has been developed to safely transport newly born babies, some weighing less than one kilo (2.2 lb.) from a trauma point to an appropriate hospital by ambulance, aircraft or helicopter.

Key features of the Neocot include a patented electric lift mechanism and two independent battery back-up systems that provide 90 minutes of ‘walk time’. The range of ‘on board’ medical equipment includes an electric ventilator, syringe pumps, oxygen and the other systems necessary to monitor the baby’s well being.

Engineered sandwich composites based on Divinycell cores are used for the main body of the Neocot in order to provide lightweight, high-strength performance. During the test program the unit survived a 62 kph (38.5 mph) crash test that equates to a longitudinal force of 20 g. The Neocot is aviation and safety certified to ISO and FAR standards.

Another benefit of using sandwich composites is that they offer good thermal insulation properties. In the case of the Neocot, the internal temperature needs to be maintained at a constant 37°C (98.6°F).

In order to achieve the required level of dimensional accuracy, the Neocot body is produced using an RTM Lite process. First the core is CNC-milled to achieve the tight tolerances and to accommodate a variety of inserts. Then the core, reinforcements and inserts are loaded into the mould and the component is infused. This approach eliminates the problems associated with post-drilling.

Currently more than 30 Mansell Neocots are in service throughout Australia and the concept has attracted widespread interest from health and rescue organizations around the world. In particular, hospitals and retrieval services in both Sweden and Norway have already adopted the system.


Louise Eriksson Jacka
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