A working prototype in ten weeks for a client seeking to revolutionise drinks analysis
Our client Figura Analytics have a mission “to revolutionise drinks analysis, to improve product quality and consistency and to help build brand value”. Figura’s technology delivers significantly faster micro analysis and additional tests within the same process including conductivity, flavour bleed and microplastics. A working prototype was required to demonstrate this revolutionary technology to Figura’s clients.
Figura Analytics approached the 3D-Consultancy (3DC) to package their novel nanopore technology into a prototype that would be suitable for product demonstrations at potential clients and that would give them further learning on the application of their technology.
The novel technology enables a user to characterise particulates of a fluid sample in order to recognise contaminants and control the quality of the constituents. The proprietary rapid trace analysis software can also report microbiological content, conductivity, flavour bleed and microplastics.
A spokesperson for Figura commented that “this technology has a number of uses in the drinks manufacturing process from analysing flavours and filters, through to replacing traditional microbiological tests. This will help brands deliver quality and consistency to their consumers.”
The aesthetics of the device were a major consideration and 3DC wanted to surpass expectations for a first prototype. 3DC established a sleek, ergonomic design and by working closely with our fabricators were able to produce a protype with 3D curved surfaces that give the impression of an off-tool, mass-produced unit.
3D-Consultancy’s approach to the first prototype was to deliver as many functions and features as possible, in order to give the maximum amount of learning right away. This included design features that give a user-friendly, tool-less access level for device setup and operation. 3DC used props to determine the optimum ergonomic volumes for areas where users would be interacting with the product and created magnet-latching access hatches to give a minimalistic user experience. External connections were all placed on one side of the device, making it quick and easy for a user to connect the device to a laptop running Figura’s software. Once closed, all sides of the device are flush and with inset, 3D printed lifting handles ensure it is easily transported.
Electrical performance of the device was also critical; Figura’s highly-sensitive technology needed to be safeguarded against both radiated and conducted electromagnetic interference. Drawing upon 3DC’s experience of electrical equipment design allowed 3DC to ensure the device performed electrically as well as being sealed against dust and fluids.
To enable the multiple test configurations required, a novel clamp arrangement was designed that uses eight identical 3D printed components to retain four test sample bottles of various sizes and purposes, allowing each to be independently interchangeable.
Features in the casing internals provide fluid protection for internal 240V electronics components, an internal fuse and all electrical components have been specified with a minimum of IP65 rating.
To enable Figura to present their technology to waiting clients our engineering team went from initial project review through to supplying a working prototype in only 10 weeks. The scope of this work included integrating a complex system consisting of over 50 proprietary microfluidic components and dealing with a range of supply chain issues.
A Figura spokesperson commented “ Working with 3DC has been an incredible journey and allowed Figura a fast track to delivering a sleek and well-designed first prototype that was highly functional and operational. The delivery from 3DC has not only given Figura a prototype, but also a prototype assembly document that allows for future development steps to be taken for the prototype for integration with the hardware changes and software considerations ”.
The 3D Consultancy are an engineering led design and manufacturing consultancy providing technical solutions utilising CAD digital processes, advanced 3D printing/additive manufacturing, and 3D scanning.
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