Chris Churchill, Rogers Senior Development Engineer, Gives us the Scoop on New PORON® Vive Energy Activated Cushioning
We were lucky to catch up with Chris Churchill, Sr. Development Engineer, Rogers Corporation High Foam Division to discuss his role and involvement in our latest development, PORON® Vive Energy Activated Cushioning. If you are attending the Outdoor Retailer Show this week, we hope you will stop by our booth 155-601 and introduce yourself to Chris!
1) First Chris, can you please give us a brief background on yourself?
I graduated from UConn in 2008 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Shortly after graduating I joined Rogers as a Rotational Engineer where I worked in process engineering and new product development. In early 2009, I was transitioned to a full-time position in new product development at our Woodstock facility. In March 2012, I was moved to a new product development role in R&D where I focus on urethane formulation development.
2.) How did the concept for PORON® Vive Energy Activated Cushioning first develop?
We received a request from one of our customers to develop a highly resilient urethane, which maintained the same great properties as PORON Cushioning such as compression set resistance and breathability.
3.) What type of information is important to gather from a customer when determining a potential new product opportunity?
It is important to learn about the application, typical properties of materials they are currently using, properties they feel the current material is lacking and also how they envision their product 3 – 5 years from now. With this information we can work towards developing material solutions for current and future products.
4.) When first developing the scope for a new project, what steps do you typically perform before implementation?
Defining the scope of a project early is critical to having timely product launches. Our customers play a major role in defining the scope of a project. With their feedback, a set of required properties is defined. These properties will determine how narrow or wide the scope of the development is.
5.) What materials specifications are most important when developing a new PORON® Material?
There are some key properties which indicate the overall quality of urethanes, which we evaluate throughout development. Compression set resistance, tensile strength, tear strength, etc. are all indicators of the longevity and durability of the foams we manufacture. Overall, the markets we sell our materials into are very unique compared to the rest of the urethane industry. Our customers require unique properties, which also need to be at the top of our list. For PORON XRD it was impact protection, for Vive it was resilience, and if a customer came to us tomorrow and said they needed a product with 50% compression set , that would become one of our key specifications.
6.) What other Rogers’ teams do you work with in developing the formulation for a new product?
Rogers is very collaborative throughout the product development cycle. Representatives from marketing, supply chain, process engineering, new product development, quality and manufacturing typically make up the team for our more complex projects. Working with such a diverse group allows to anticipate road blocks, find solutions and have successful product launches.
7.) Was there something in particular about the PORON® Vive Material development which you found exciting?
Formulation development was the most exciting portion to me. Resilience is a very unique property that is challenging to achieve while maintaining other key properties. Seeing the amount of iterations the team had to run through was impressive.
8.) We hear you’ll be attending the upcoming Summer Outdoor Retailer Show, where we’ll be launching the new PORON® Vive Energy Activated Cushioning. Can you tell us your main objectives for attending the show?
My main objective is to meet with customers and help answer any questions they have about Vive or PORON Materials in general. I am also interested in learning about their current material needs so we can provide solutions for future products.
9.) With non-stop meetings, walking the show grounds and attending events, Outdoor Retailer is often a long, hard four days…but we do try to find some time to enjoy! What are you looking forward most to this year’s Summer OR?
This is my first trip to OR, and Salt Lake City, so I am really looking forward to exploring the show and the city as well
10.) Lastly for fun, so far you’ve been on the development team for PORON® ReSource Cushioning (a foam with 45% less petro-based polyol), PORON® XRD™ Extreme Impact Protection (a high impact foam for high impact sports) and now PORON® Vive Energy Activated Cushioning. What target market or foam characteristics would you see us exploring next?
I see Rogers focusing heavily on developing lower weight versions of our standard consumer grades. Shoe designers have pushing weight to new lows and to keep up with this trend, lower weight PORON Cushioning is a must.