Self-saturating swab means no-mess prep

A nurse using an iodine swab to prep a patient for surgery or IV insertion can do so quickly and cleanly with the self-saturating Betadine® PrepStick(TM) applicator from The Purdue Frederick Co., Norwalk, CT.

The innovative package won the 1999 AmeriStar Best of Show award from the Institute of Packaging Professionals this month.

The PrepStick has been on the market since June 21 and is an alternative to presaturated foil-packed swabsticks and glass ampoules. Resembling a large, brown Q-Tip, the PrepStick's extruded polypropylene handle from Teel Plastics (Baraboo, WI) is 4" long and holds 2.6 g of antiseptic solution. The foam swab is 1 3/8" long and 1/2" wide. The PrepStick is packaged in a polyethylene-lined 25# paper pouch flexo-printed in one color with instructions, graphics and bar code by Hardwood Products Co. LP (Guilford, ME).

The user squeezes the middle of the PrepStick's handle between thumb and forefinger, which causes enough pressure to break a seal at the foam end of the handle. By continuing to lightly squeeze the handle, the user releases the iodine from the handle into the foam swab.

Hardwood Products handles all packaging of the PrepStick according to an exclusive contract-packaging arrangement with Purdue Frederick. Hardwood Products receives the tubes from Teel Plastics already cut to length. At Hardwood, an ultrasonic seal is made at one end of the tube, and the tube is filled on a stepper motor-driven metering system. After the liquid is filled, a second ultrasonic seal is made on the opposite end. At the same time, a center pin creates a point where the sealed material at this end is intentionally thinned. This is the area through which the iodine flows when the PrepStick is squeezed.

Filled tubes are dropped into a hopper that feeds to a tipping process where glue and foam tips are automatically applied. Next, the PrepSticks are sorted and fed into a Circle (Green Bay, WI) overwrapper, where they are wrapped in PE-coated paper in strips of three. Fifty strips of three are then loaded into chipboard cartons, and four cartons are put into each corrugated shipper for a total of 600 PrepSticks per case.

Along with the Best of Show award, the PrepStick was also a commercial success. "We've sold out what we've produced so far," says Chris Scanlon, senior package development engineer at Purdue Frederick. The PrepSticks are available nationally and retail for 49¢ each.

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