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Project Brief:

To create 15 sets of fully functional and durable assemblies, to prove out the design and use for preliminary marketing research

Manufacture:

The main components of the casings were CNC machined from ABS and test fitted to the fabricated sheet metal chassis. Once reviewed and approved they were then used along with a number of stereolithography parts as master patterns for silicone tooling. Within four days, Paragon were casting Polyurethane parts to build an initial run of fifteen complete assemblies. The vacuum castings were fitted to chassis and decorated with bespoke rub-down graphics of the new corporate logo before the application of a hard wearing industrial lacquer.

Application:

Product Development and full field trials

Case Study:

Paragon Rapid Technologies Ltd support The Design Factor with the development and manufacture of the enclosures for two new Digital Specimen Radiography Systems for Bioptics Inc.

Pioneering Digital Mammography

Today's generation is more "Cancer Aware" than ever before. Cancer is a very current topic, receiving attention through the media and heavy campaigning. One of the most common and widely publicised cancers is Breast Cancer. It is likely that most of us have been affected in some way by Breast Cancer or at least the threat of it, either directly or through family and friends.

Breast Cancer accounts for at least one in three of all cancers in women. One woman in nine will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in her lifetime and it is the second biggest cause of death from cancer in women.

In the UK alone Over 45,500 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and round 12,000 women will die from it every year

Five-year survival rates for breast cancer have improved significantly over the last 20 years and recent figures show around 80 per cent of women in the UK diagnosed today will be alive in five years time. This is largely due to increased awareness of breast cancer, the introduction of the screening program and the successes of breast cancer research, which have led to improved diagnosis and treatments that are now available.

Founded in 2001, Bioptics, Inc. is an industry pioneer in the CMOS (Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) based X-Ray Sensor technology. Based in Tucson, Arizona, Bioptics are committed to developing the best imaging technology available for the detection and treatment of breast cancer through the design and manufacture of cassette based digital X-ray cameras that can be used to upgrade film based radiography and specimen radiography systems. The company's products dramatically improve the standard of care for breast cancer patients offering the performance when and where it's needed, creating clinical value for the user and patients.

Two of Bioptic's latest developments are the CoreVISION which is a desk top product used by pathologists to rapidly verify the presence of micro-calcifications in core biopsies, increasing the standard of care for patients by eliminating delays waiting for verification of core samples and the other is BioVISION. A completely mobile imaging unit designed to save time in the Operating Theatre and providing instant verification of excised breast tissue margins and enhanced standard of care for patients undergoing surgical excision or core biopsy procedures.

The Design

In November 2006 Bioptics turned to Belfast based design consultants, The Design Factor to fully design and develop their products and company brand. The brief was to help them become the market leader in core and specimen radiology systems.

This involved re-defining Bioptics as a brand along side the design of their new products. Their core technology is digital sensors that can capture very high resolution x-ray images in the aid of cancer diagnosis and a treatment. The Design Factor's role was to reflect that intelligence in the company brand and their products. Ciaran Purdy of The Design Factor commented, "It is important to us that the brand and product design are complimentary and in effect the product is a three dimensional brand"

This was more than just a packaging exercise or even the design of a new product. This was the creation of a new 2D and 3D brand. The Design Factor devised a full strategy to give Bioptics this new identity. This included everything from the product naming system, and complete website development to the design of stationary, user manuals, marketing literature, exhibition design and e-shot marketing as well as the design to production, with full engineering of the products themselves and the development of the user interface software.

This has resulted in continuity of the branding and synergy throughout the product range.

The Design Factor were tasked with taking Bioptic's proven CMOS based X-ray Sensor Technology combined with the latest digital imagery, to develop a compact, portable device, with touch screen and wireless operation. The product had to be easy to clean and sterilize to allow it's use in, laboratories, surgeries and operating theatres.

The system had to be user friendly allowing intuitive use without the need for specialised X-ray knowledge and have the capability of automatic calibration and self diagnosis.

The benefits to the user and patient would be convenience, ease of use with a one button operation and the instant confirmation of a successful breast excision or biopsy procedure, saving valuable Operating Room time and minimising stress and anxiety for the patient.

The Design Factor team generated concept images in the early stages of design, using Maxon's Cinema 4D before committing to the final mechanical design of both the plastic casings and the sheet metal sub-frame in Solidworks. The design of the user interface was demonstrated through adobe flash before being integrated into Bioptic's own software.

Prototyping

Once the design was finalised, fully working prototypes were required and The Design Factor called upon the services of Paragon Rapid Technologies Ltd.

"We have worked with Paragon for a number of years now and have always been impressed with their quality of work. They are real model makers in the sense that they don't rely wholly on the SLA machine but add value to the model making process, so that the end result looks great and functions correctly" said Ciaran Purdy.

The CoreVISION was the first system to be manufactured and an initial run of Polyurethane vacuum castings were produced from silicone tooling to prove out the design and to use for preliminary market research. Following feedback from Bioptics, The Design Factor were able to modify the design further before commissioning production tooling and 100 sets of injection moulded parts through Paragon's approved suppliers in China.

The Larger BioVISION system is a much more complex product, integrating a standard Touch Screen and slim-line keyboard. The main components of the casings were CNC machined from ABS and test fitted to the fabricated sheet metal chassis. Once reviewed and approved they were then used along with a number of stereolithography parts as master patterns for silicone tooling. Within four days, Paragon were casting Polyurethane parts to build an initial run of fifteen complete assemblies. The vacuum castings were fitted to chassis and decorated with bespoke rub-down graphics of the new corporate logo before the application of a hard wearing industrial lacquer. Final assembly of electronics and hardware was carried out by The Design Factor before sending the fully operational products out into the field for trials and marketing.

Further vacuum castings will be produced to satisfy initial requirements while production tooling is underway in China.

Peter Humphrey, Operation Director of Paragon commented "It's very satisfying to work closely with companies such as The Design Factor and to be involved at all stages from concept through prototype development and into production. Although our business is built around prototype models, the technologies and materials lend themselves perfectly to low volume, high value products such as this one. We're all about working WITH our customers to add value to their products"

Ryan Lohrenz of Bioptics Inc concluded "The Design Factor has done an amazing job in creating our brand, which has essentially transformed our company into the real market leader in specimen x-ray systems. Working closely with the Design Factor, we now have products that not only embody the image of the company, but are innovative and extremely functional as well. With the completion of the BioVision project, our image transformation will be complete. Paragon has been very instrumental in working with us through The Design Factor to create the products we have on the market today. The quality and speed with which we have developed our new products could not have been possible without the expertise of Paragon and all of its employees.

The speed with which we received not only models, but production quality plastic parts was truly impressive. The skillful preparation of one-off models is the best I have ever seen. I am constantly impressed by the fact that Paragon genuinely seems to care about how our product looks and feels and will strive to make sure we are happy with our items. From the initial samples to the production units, the fit, form, function and customer service we have received has been second to none. It definitely makes our job easier from a design standpoint to have a model making team so committed to making the design work in all phases of the design process. I will certainly be looking to Paragon for all of my prototyping and plastics needs in the future"