A PRODUCT FOR HOME USE
The development of an automatic dosing apparatus for subcutaneous drugs for home use requires expertise in both industrial design, engineering and production. There is a need for both broad and in-depth expertise to handle and secure all the uncertainties that arise in all forms of product development, but this is especially true in medical device equipment where all needs must be considered and taken care of.
A product that is intended to be used by an end user in their typical home environment places extremely high demands. The user himself must safely and reliably, both be able to administer and inject an active drug through the skin and into the body on repeated occasions. All parts of the device must function throughout the life of the product. For the user, it is really about the “best product in the world”, thanks to being able to stay at home and perform their treatment instead of having to go to a hospital or medical center.
In order to create “the world’s best product”, something that is called robust engineering is needed. It is basically a quality assurance process and is about both cost-efficiently minimizing any quality deficiencies as early as possible in the development phase. It is also about catching the design faults early in order to minimize late changes in development, and definitely before entering the manufacturing process.
In a development process, all decisions are directly crucial to the end result. Uncertainty factors about the product working after a number of years on the shelf can depend on whether the right thickness of the product is chosen and for the moment the actual temperature the product is used in. Of course, the product becomes more expensive if you increase the thickness of the material to prevent any material expansion, which may be needed due to the heat effect of an accidental exposure in direct sunlight, or if a more durable material is used. In addition, disposable products in infusion therapy, for example, are usually made in very large series in a so-called Virgin material and without the possibility of mixing any recycled. If you then increase the weight of the product by one gram, the increase of one million products, one ton! It will be both a more expensive product with an increased environmental impact as a result of a single bad decision.
– The principles behind robust design are based on optimizing the product’s ability to allow the variations that occur in the manufacture, use and environment in which the product is used, explains Anders Nilsson, a technical physicist and product developer at Nolato Medical’s Technical Design Center, TDC. There are many examples where you apply a safety margin on all components of the product, or where many years after the first version has been launched you are still working both here and there to get the product to work optimally.
– When the needs and requirements that Gert told about earlier are identified, we see that some correlate with each other, so the first step, and what gives the most value for money, is to develop a construction that meets these requirements, says Anders Nilsson .
BETTER TO TEST VIRTUAL
However, the requirements that are in conflict with each other still remain and can be difficult to resolve. There are four ways to deal with these difficulties:
To ignore the conflict of demands and hope for the best.
To prohibit the conflict by, for example, setting narrower limits on its use.
To turn the requirements into advantages by adapting the design.
To do as the third point but increase the effect by combining several factors that produce synergies.
– “Of course, the last two points are the way we want to work,” he says. Therefore, in our projects we strive to forgo the traditional and expensive trial and error method. Instead, we test virtual through advanced computer simulation, all the features and functions of the product even before it is built.
– “We fly it, so to speak, even before it is built, which both lowers development costs and saves time,” Anders concludes.
– “In previous projects, we worked a lot with physical models and prototypes with so-called rapid prototyping throughout the concept development and right up to tool manufacturing. This is to test both the design of the functions in handling, form and expression, as well as how well the components fit together,” Gert says.
With Avalon Innovation’s expertise in industrial design and engineering, and Nolato Medical in virtual prototyping, all of the product’s critical parameters, including that for manufacturing, can be tested before it even exists in physical form. This minimizes risk and ensures success. – “It simply can’t get any better.”
– “And as I said previously, our formula for it is called, Better Together!”