November 24, 2014

Design that Matters collaborators used SOLIDWORKS in every phase of the design process including the student team (left), professional product designers (middle), and manufacturing partners (right).

With the help of partners MTTS and East Meets West Foundation (an affiliate of Thrive Networks), Firefly has already treated over 5000 newborns with jaundice in ten developing countries over the past year. During the design process, we worked with over eighty people to develop the final device including students, professional product designers, and our manufacturing partners in Vietnam and China.

We love working with student teams to generate a wide variety of out-of-the-box ideas. We began Project Firefly with a team of students from the MIT and Rhode Island School of Design team in the Product Design and Development class. They brainstormed many concepts and narrowed to one prototype which they embodied in SOLIDWORKS and handed off to us. It was impressive to see how easily the student team could embody a concept in SOLIDWORKS given they had spent relatively little time using the software before this class.


The final architecture developed by the student team was brilliant; small and portable, and also fit on a mom’s bed for better care. However, one thing was missing: we wanted to add a light from the bottom to provide even more intensive phototherapy and better ensure effective treatment. We were able to hit the ground running by modifying the students’ SOLIDWORKS model to include a bottom light. Then we used PhotoView 360 to create renderings to share with global health experts before investing in the full alpha prototype model and taking it to Vietnam for user feedback.


Once we had settled on the final features that would make a successful product, we recruited a team of five experienced product design organizations to complete the detailed design. We passed the SOLIDWORKS database back and forth between the organizations for industrial design, mechanical design, as a reference for electrical design, and as input to thermal and optical analyses. In this phase, experts with decades of product design experience were able to use SOLIDWORKS to embody complex, organic geometries and also detail the device for manufacturing.


After a successful clinical evaluation, we handed the beta prototype SOLIDWORKS database over to our manufacturing partners MTTS in Vietnam and their plastic injection molding partner e-Bi in China. MTTS used SOLIDWORKS to make the final tweaks that made the design easy to manufacture. Then e-Bi used the database to create a metal tool for injection molding each of the housings, as seen in the photo.


Now we have kicked off a new project to develop a pulse oximeter to identify newborns with pneumonia and help monitor them during treatment with oxygen and antibiotics. We are happy to report that we have received a top notch prototype and SOLIDWORKS database from another fantastic MIT and Rhode Island School of Design team. We look forward to saving even more newborn lives with SOLIDWORKS.

New and Improved MIT + RISD Student Team Pelican Pulse Oximeter Concept from Design that Matters on Vimeo.


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