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The subject of this thesis is the design of a Float System for Poly Products BV, a specialist company that develops and produces composite products. Poly Products has acquired the rights and the design of an existing float system, the Easy Float systems Health 800. The assignment calls for the development of a Float System for the European wellness and medical markets.
Float systems enable people to float on salinated water in an isolated environment as a means of therapy. The core of this therapy is to isolate a person from external stimuli. Initially called Sensory Deprivation therapy, nowadays the term R.E.S.T. (Restricted Environmental Stimuli Therapy) is used. A float system provides a light free, sound reduced chamber with a highly concentrated solution of Epsom Salt and water maintained at a constant temperature of 36oC.
The idea behind R.E.S.T. is to offer people the possibility of improving aspects of their health, either physical, emotional or psychological. People use it both to relieve and to prevent stress. Float systems are mostly found in the wellness industry. There are many theories as to how R.E.S.T works but research has shown it is effective as a method to reduce stress and improve sleep patterns. Beside stress related effects, floating is also used in the treatment of skin diseases such as Psoriasis. It is well known that some skin diseases can be treated by spending time in and around the Dead Sea between Israel and Jordan, where a combination of salt water and UV light have a positive effect on the symptoms.
Float systems typically consist of a cabin, containing a bath, made from glass fibre reinforced plastics and a separate water treatment system. Over the years float systems have become more elaborate with the inclusion of light and sound systems for comfort and / or therapeutical use. The exteriors have also become more sophisticated, developing from the early box shaped cabins into organic shapes with complex surfacing.
An evaluation of existing float systems has shown that access to the cabin is poor in general. The surface of the bath in the Health 800 was found to be too small. The integration of a shower into the float system has a number of benefits, corrosive salt water is kept within the system and operators don’t need to install a separate shower. A big drawback of the Health 800 is that it isn’t designed to be assembled on site. It will have to be placed in one piece which won’t fit through any door.
A study into the rules and regulations concerning swimming pools learned that water quality of float systems will be inspected if the surface area of the bath is bigger than 2m2. Inspection is executed by local government in The Netherlands (and most other European countries). The inspector’s main concern is public health and they have the freedom to change or add requirements per swimming pool where they deem necessary. The law also sets certain requirements for the water treatment system. The construction of a water treatment system for a float system can get very complex as these systems usually aren’t constructed to deal with highly salinated water. It was decided to leave development of the water treatment system to a specialist company.
After concluding research the following main requirements were set for the new float system; Inclusion of a bigger bath than the Health 800, Use of an integrated shower, Include additional features in the form of UV and mood lighting which can also be used in therapies, The styling concept should evocate the essence of floating, The construction has to be as such that parts fit through a standardized door and the system can be assembled on site.
All these requirements were integrated or resolved in the new float system design. Especially the integration of the shower turned out to be a challenge both from an engineering as an aesthetic point of view. As a result of the assembly requirement the final float system design is now also modular with a number of product configuration possibilities.