A New Tool for Dentists

Surround Medical Systems (formerly known as Xinvivo) engaged with Porticos in 2019 beginning with industrial design work on their new, cutting-edge, 3D x-ray tool for installation in dentist offices. The “Portray” tool uses a carbon nanotube (CNT) x-ray source to be able to produce 3D intraoral x-ray images of patients.

The Surround Medical Systems (SMS) team began development with an initial proof of concept and evaluated user input and risks before deciding to move forward. They came to Porticos for assistance with the development of their second, production-caliber proof of concpet.

Solving Problems for Production

The Portray tool works with an articulating arm that can be installed and easily positioned to take x-ray images of patients. The initial proof of concept was strong but relied on a delicate balancing of the weight and center of gravity in the arm, a solution that would be untenable for high-volume production and installation. In order to be successful, the final design would need to be easily positioned by the operator (less than 3.5 lbs of force to move) and remain in place when released (drift less than 6mm after release). This requirement was complicated by the large power cable required to provide the carbon nanotube (CNT) x-ray.

Similar to a desk lamp, the linkage in the arm is a balance problem; the force must overcome gravity, while not “springing” back to a default position when released. Porticos engineers designed and integrated a controlled friction solution that allowed the arm to be positioned through the full range of motion while ensuring minimal movement after release.

The Building of a Team

The SMS team was relatively new and inexperienced in engineering development, so they relied on Porticos engineers to take the lead. In addition to mechanical design and project management, the Porticos engineers provided mentoring and guidance for the fledgling SMS engineering team. SMS staff was also still developing their own Quality Systems; here too the Porticos engineers lent their experience and support. SMS hired and trained its own engineering team over the course of the project. Once the design was approved and final reviews and product analysis were complete, the Porticos team formally transferred engineering and development responsibility to the SMS team. 

A Successful End

After several months of development and a productive, collaborative process, the Portray technology was complete. This system is the first of its kind to be able to produce stationary, high-resolution, 3D intraoral X-ray images. Because carbon nanotube (CNT) produces electron beams without heating the cathode, this tool can provide the placement of multiple x-ray sources within a single x-ray tube. 

Porticos is proud to have been part of this project and honored to have had the opportunity to support the Surround Medical Systems staff during the building of their team and technology.

Similar Projects

Check out some of our other industrial design, mechanical engineering, and Mechanisms & Motion projects: the Compact Team Radio, Cyclotron Target, and the Trifold Monitor.

View the Portray System profile in the Porticos Portfolio.

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About Porticos


Porticos, Inc. is a Product Engineering and New Product Development firm located in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Established in 2003, Porticos produces innovative and effective solutions for their clients and the markets they serve. Porticos provides broad expertise in development, planning, and production. 

Contact us for more information or support bringing your idea to market.