With assistance from the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP), Houston based HydroMAX™ is moving ahead with the production of an award-winning portable hydration system for athletes on the playing field.
Chris Spencer, President of HydroMAX, already had received high praise for the HydroMAX H2000, which allows athletes to drink liquids while on the field. The product was featured on the Home Shopping Network reality show “Made in the USA” and won best new product and invention. According to Spencer, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Sammy Davis will wear the HydroMAX H2000 while playing during the 2006-2007 NFL season.
The HydroMAX system attaches to an athlete’s shoulder pads and a tube connects a liquid holder to a regulator called the “bite valve.” Maintaining the bite valve’s hygiene would be extremely important. “Since the valve will come into direct contact with its users, I wanted to make sure it was made of the right food-grade plastic, be durable and have the best design possible,” Spencer said.
Spencer wanted to make sure that the materials selected for manufacturing the HydroMAX H2000 would be the best and that the design was top-notch. He decided to ask SATOP for help, having previously contacted the program for assistance with another product.
SATOP Texas Project Engineer David Braun paired Spencer’s Request for Technical Assistance with E.C. “Bear” Handwerk, Senior Construction Safety Engineer for MEI Technologies, a SATOP Gold level Alliance Partner that donates 1,000 hours of engineering support per year.
Handwerk examined the materials used by HydroMAX and researched different manufacturers for the bite valve component. “As I helped to modify the product’s bite valve, this project evolved into searching for other materials that could be used for the tube that supplies liquid to the valve,” Handwerk said. “I researched various hospital tubing and certain components of an intravenous set up.”
He provided guidance on how the pieces of the system could be properly sealed to prevent leaks, and made sure that any tubing considered would be see-through to make cleaning easier. “My main concern was potentially having a residue build up,” Handwerk said. “If you have any residue, over a period of time you could get a mold build up, especially because the device isn’t refrigerated all the time.”
Understanding Spencer’s need to control costs, Handwerk helped HydroMAX gather research on the most cost effective suppliers of the specialty plastic for the tubing. “I contacted several different firms that work with polyethylene plastic. It met Chris’ needs in that it is clear and can be cleaned easily,” he said.
Handwerk also suggested additional uses for the product. “HydroMAX H2000 can be used in other fields, such as hazardous material clean up and law enforcement. I can even see ground search teams using it when they search for missing persons,” he said. “The price of this product is reasonable and it’s well worth it to pay $49 for something that will keep you hydrated and help prevent heat exhaustion.”
With SATOP’s assistance, HydroMAX was able to contact the appropriate manufacturers, locate the proper materials needed to begin production as well as identify potential companies that might be interested in using HydroMAX H2000. Spencer is thrilled with the service SATOP provided him with, “The fact that I can tell my customers NASA looked at my product to help confirm it was put together properly, that is huge,” he said. “SATOP is a great asset to small businesses, offering engineering services and advice that we normally wouldn’t be able to afford.”
Used by the San Diego Chargers, high school football teams and youth leagues, HydroMAX H2000 is available for purchase online at www.hydromaxsystem.com and will be sold at The Sports Authority stores nationwide.