Bioptigen Envisu Image System

Bioptigen, a technology leader in ophthalmology from Morrisville, North Carolina partnered with Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC to create the Envisu, a state-of-the-art OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography). The Envisu is a system that produces detailed images of the internal structure of the eye for both clinical and research applications. 

Designers at Bioptigen needed to advance their product and they selected Porticos’s engineers for the design. Porticos optimized Envisu by utilizing the proprietary “engine,” while also mitigating annual production costs. 

Ultimately, Bioptigen considered a reduction in size & weight, with improved thermal performance and shock resistance. The designers also added the ability to disconnect specific components, which made the unit easier to build and service.

Porticos’ engineers partnered with multiple Bioptigen teams to identify the device’s most essential features, as well as areas that needed to be improved. Following multiple iterations of industrial design concepts and mockups, Porticos designed a new system that met all of the objectives.

This led to the creation of the probe interface module, which allowed interchanging the scanner probe in the base unit.  This module required adding a new connection point in the main optical fiber. The connection was executed with minimal signal loss and included a clever dust cover for the optical connection.

Separate optical and electronic modules were created, which were independently removable from the chassis for servicing.  This configuration assisted with assembly while a hinged electronics enclosure aided with debugging, allowing service personnel to access the interior while operating the unit.

A component layout was established to maximize thermal performance, and this was eventually coupled with the positive pressure fan cooling system. Hot swap hard disk drives were implanted, with custom shock mounts, rounding out the internals Bioptigen was looking for.

A unique optical fiber routing tray that accommodated an array of fiber lengths was fitted with size and weight distribution that, along with handholds in key locations, enabled disassembly of the unit to assist with portability during transport.

Porticos implemented lightweight and strong structural chassis, low-cost thermoformed covers, and removable spool to improve transportability, as well as adapted OEM medical cart to complete the system.

Overall, Porticos worked to improve product aesthetics and ergonomics, along with manufacturing methods compatible with a limited annual production volume and a simplified design. The engineers provided expertise with Design for Manufacturing (DFM), Design for Assembly (DFA), and Design for Service (DFS).

24/7 In-Line Monitoring Filter System

Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, continues to revolutionize manufacturing, with a filter system that uses a series of in-line sensors to monitor fluid condition and filter performance 24/7. This system is not only beneficial to the manufacturing sector, it opens the door for product design/development of similar types within any sector of the industry.

The filter has been engineered to include data 24/7, meaning that consumers will never again have to monitor filters beyond what data is made relatively available to them. Cloud-based software then translates this data into easily understandable information, which reduces the amount of time needed to determine what the system is trying to convey. The filter also maps current conditions against historical trends, process variables, and predictive algorithms—another innovative product design decision.

The filter has also been designed to alert the user when the filter needs maintenance, and the RFID technology streamlines maintenance, verifying health and remaining life of filter. For many users, a product designed to take care of itself while doing the job it’s been tasked with doing is not only cost-efficient, but time-saving. This enables users to keep a close eye on the health of their manufacturing systems, without the hassle and inefficiency of weekly or monthly fluid testing.

Product Development Process

To create this filter system, Porticos’ engineers created a 3D print prototype of the filter, incorporating a RFID tag reader, RF-coupled antenna boards, LED ring status lighting, and an electrical box that gathers and communicates data wirelessly to the cloud. This prototype was then used to test electrical and software components, and Porticos’ engineering team developed several sizes of 3D models for injection molding, based on customer-requested design updates.

Porticos is proud to have been involved in the development of this innovative technology, and is responsible for the prototype, testing, and final product.

Collaboration on Medication Monitoring Device: Porticos and Porticos Asia

Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, and Porticos Asia, its manufacturing partner, recently collaborated on a medication monitoring device that helps patients and caregivers keep track of medications via a smartphone app.

The device can be attached to prescription pill bottles at the pharmacy, and it tracks the weight of the pills with a high-precision sensor to determine if they are being taken as directed. The device then communicates via Bluetooth to the patient’s smartphone app. Downloading the app brings the patient into the device eco-system, providing the patient with medication reminders and providing their caregivers with a complete record of their medication compliance.

Product Design and Manufacturing Partnership

Porticos worked directly with Porticos Asia to rapidly deliver 2,500+ units for user trials on a tight schedule, working throughout weekends and holidays to meet deadlines.

Headquartered in Hong Kong and working with suppliers in the Shenzhen region, Porticos Asia is in the advantageous position of being able to provide low cost, high quality production to customers who may otherwise not have access to such capabilities. The focus on production services will include part, sub-assembly and full production manufacturing, supply chain management, cost reduction, quality control and order processing.

Product Design Challenges

Porticos is proud to have been involved in the conceptual design and development of concept of operations and device feasibility, and was responsible for the definition of requirements, the research of available sensing technologies (capacitive, resistive, strain gauge, etc.), and the proof of concept performance testing of sensing technologies.

Porticos also designed and built a fixture to efficiently program and test PCBAs during inline assembly testing, and designed and built a fixture for end-of-line checkout of devices with initial device calibration.

Porticos is proud to have been chosen for this project. For more on Porticos’ engineering consulting services, click here for a services list.

Product design for cooler pet beds. Literally.

A cool concept. A bed for your pet that will help them keep their cool, literally.

The Porticos team was approached to redesign a non-functional cooling pet bed.

Product design: Engineering challenges overcome by critical thinking

An interesting concept that had several pieces and parts from the different components involved in the bed itself, analysis of dc adapter or ac power, how to keep the fan quiet, portability, and cost.

Then there were design challenges the Porticos team met with enthusiasm such as: how to simulate a dog in a computer thermal situation, what device to use to actually cool the bed, what the proper amount of cooling should be appropriate for a model-sized dog, and which materials would be most efficient.

Engineering consulting for Fido

This was another successful design completed with a pet bed that becomes cool to the touch in only a few minutes, and can provide enough cooling for even a 70-90 pound dog.

See more about the cool pet bed by reading the technical case study here.

Sleek New Design for Paper Product Dispensers

A new sleek, streamlined, and consistent look for paper product dispensers were designed and developed by Porticos engineers for the Von Drehle Corporation. The Porticos engineers were on board from concept through installation in customer locations.

Listening to their customers, the Von Drehle Corporation knew it was time to redesign and update the look of their paper product dispensers. They looked to the system engineers at Porticos who worked through multiple design requirements to fit various sizes and dimensions of products that could potentially be used in the new dispensers.

Product Design and Development Services

From initial ID sketches and requirements definition, prototype design and functional prototype testing, and all the way through to working with customer specified suppliers, Porticos met design challenges and tight deadlines to achieve an efficient, reliable, and attractive final product.

New Product Design for Paper Product Dispensers

The new designs have an improved locking mechanism for ease-of-use and high capacity towel and tissue capabilities which lessens the burden on maintenance staff.

Porticos product design example - Von Drehle tissue dispenser
New TranscendTM model. The twin jumbo dispenser is considered a controlled-use dispenser. It can only be used with von Drehle tissue to reduce waste, maintenance demands and costs, and holds almost 2,300 feet of soft 2-ply tissue.

White and a stainless finish are new color options in addition to the traditional black.

As an example of new product to the line is the Center Pull Towel Dispenser. This dispenser limits waste and cost by dispensing one towel at a time. This design also keeps the dispenser germ free and there will be never be a need to replace batteries. This design is perfect for kitchens, restrooms, food service areas, and anywhere a center pull towel dispenser works best.

For more information about this project, check out the case study here: Paper Product Dispensers Get a New Modern Look.

Strong and Sleek: The Dent Prevent Example of Meeting Product Design Challenges

Even the best drivers in the world have to worry about dents. You might maneuver carefully into a parking spot, but then someone carelessly parks too close, opens their door too fast, and—ding! Other cars can dent ours, no matter how careful we are.

Inventor and entrepreneur Mike Ardrey is striving to make these annoyances more preventable. He invented Dent Prevent, an adjustable, magnetic door guard that protects cars from bumps and scratches. For owners, that means peace of mind. Imagine being able to leave your freshly painted car in a crowded parking lot—completely stress free.

The challenge in creating Dent Prevent was the look: how could the device be attractive and effective?

Unfortunately, when Mike first created the project, he partnered with a manufacturer in China that returned low-quality results. Dent Prevent was a small startup dealing with a manufacturer on the other side of the word—communication didn’t improve, and Mike knew he needed something to change.

Mike met with Porticos US and Porticos Asia, to see if they could help with a redesign of the product and a better manufacture. The goal of the redesign was to ensure that the device was thinner, more attractive, strong enough to withstand environmental conditions, easier to remove (with absolutely no scratches!), and affordable for consumers.

Dent Prevent consumer product design case study
Dent Prevent sleek design

When Porticos started the project, they had access to Mike’s original prototype. Unfortunately, the prototype’s quality plans were flawed, so Porticos redesigned the piece, focusing on fit and mechanism design details to improve manufacturability. The Porticos US team also worked directly with Porticos Asia to consider the supply chain, doing material identification and developing a specific quality plan with part level and final assembly standards. As they worked on the redesigned product, Porticos also developed an intense tolerance and reliability test plan, which could replicate the potentially harsh conditions Dent Prevent would face.

Together, Porticos US and Porticos Asia considered cost; they used a variety of material and enclosure combinations to align with the design and function requirements.

The Dent Prevent product

The redesigned device is a thin, inconspicuous product that can be easily elongated or shortened to fit the length of each door and secured in place with the incorporated magnetic strip. It can withstand motion and weather, and can be left on while driving and during inclement conditions. The device is affordable, and if the driver no longer wishes to use it, they can easily remove the apparatus from the door; it will not scratch the exterior, and will leave the vehicle looking damage free.

The effective product design, manufacturing and testing plans, and clear communication resulted in a higher-quality, impressive end product for Dent Prevent. The successful product redesign is an example of how Porticos US and Porticos Asia partner together for product design and high-quality manufacturing. For more technical details, please view the Dent Prevent case study in our portfolio

Convenience at Your Fingertips: Porticos Helps Develop Automated Medication Dispenser

We’ve all been there: worried that a loved one isn’t taking his medications or, perhaps worse, is taking medication improperly. It can lead to hospital stays, the inability to live independently, and lots of stress on patients and loved ones.

Spencer Healthcare Solutions, an RTP-based company, has developed a hardware and software platform to address this medical challenge.

The “Spencer” is a smart, connected health hub that dispenses the right pills at the right time. Since patients and pharmacists don’t have to sort or count pills with Spencer, the danger of human error is drastically reduced. Plus, Spencer can send reminder alerts and even connect patients to Spencer-trained pharmacists for questions and advice.

So patients and their loved ones can feel confident that medications are taken properly and at the correct time. If you’ve ever worried about a loved one on multiple medications, you know peace of mind is life changing!

Porticos Design Challenge: Balancing Precision and Ease

One of the fundamental pieces of the platform solution is to provide the medicine to the patient in a format that the Spencer device can properly dispense. For the Spencer that means a cartridge containing prepackaged foils of medicine. To meet this need, Spencer Healthcare Solutions engaged Porticos to develop the “Spooler”. The Spooler allows the pharmacist to efficiently and reliably package the patient-specific foils into a cartridge that can then be put into the Spencer unit for dispensing by the patient.

Medical Device design - consumer device design - product design and product development - side 3

Creating a product with such a high-stakes role in patient health presented several challenges. First, the Porticos design team needed the Spooler to be agile and dependable: small enough to fit on a countertop, fast enough to produce a medication pack every 30 seconds, and reliable enough to be a life-or-death part of a healthcare plan. It also needed ethernet capability and an easy-to-navigate touch screen, so even the least tech-savvy could use it with ease.

As the name suggests, the Spoolers’ main function is to wind and unwind the foil packets of medication to fill the cartridge. One of the obstacles to performing that function while meeting the time requirements is for the medication packs to jam or be torn by the mechanisms during that process. To overcome this obstacle, Porticos engineers ideated a variety of unique mechanisms and performed design of experiments to prove out the concepts. As a result, Porticos was able to create a Spooler that winds and unwinds smoothly every time – a reliable solution for a critical part of patient care.

One of the key steps that Porticos advised all customers to consider as part of the design process is to prototype the design to allow functional evaluation before proceeding to production manufacture. Case in point was an obstacle that was identified during initial prototype functional trails; specifically engagement and disengagement of the Spooler “arm”. The arm interfaces with a hub in the cartridge to perform the winding function. Originally, Porticos designed a traditional latching mechanism to secure the arm in place, but the team soon realized that optimizing (1) the forces necessary to ensure good engagement with the cartridge hub and (2) the need for the pharmacists to easily disengage the arm was problematic. To solve this challenge Porticos engineers devised a unique magnetic solution that not only meets the functionality requirements but exceeds the life cycle requirements as well.

As further testament to Porticos innovative contribution to the Spooler and Spencer products, Porticos engineers were named inventor on multiple patents.

“Porticos engineers did an excellent job of developing the spooler unit,” said Jeremy Bridges, Hardware Manager with Spencer Healthcare Solutions. “They worked very well with our team and were very responsive to our needs. We were especially impressed with some of the innovative solutions that they develop and were able to integrate into the product.”

Porticos Production Challenge: Balancing Cost and Medical Standards

Once the Spooler was designed, Spencer Healthcare Solutions needed a cost competitive production plan that could also meet the high-quality standards for medical equipment. Porticos Asia, the production services arm of Porticos US, was able to identify the perfect production spot for a custom build—one that could match quality and cost efficiency with an aggressive delivery schedule. They were able to ship the first batch of Spoolers just twelve weeks after the start of production—all the while analyzing the manufacturing flow for further cost reduction in future production runs.

Medical Device design - consumer device design - product design and product development - side 2

Meeting The Challenge: Another Product Design Partnership

Through both the development and production stages, Porticos US and Porticos Asia were proud to support Spencer Healthcare Solutions.

“We consider Porticos to be a valuable partner in reaching our company goals,” said Ben Wetzel, Finance Manager at Spencer Healthcare Solutions. “They have provided excellent engineering and manufacturing support. Furthermore they have remained flexible throughout our engagement to meet our changing needs.”

For more information on the product, visit www.helloimspencer.com.

For more examples of how Porticos is Product Design for the Way We’re Designed, visit porticos.net.

Product Design for Greener Thumbs: Porticos Engineers Partner with ROOT

Can you imagine your indoor basil plant sending you a text? “Hey there—could I get some water?” That little pot’s chance of survival just improved. Well thanks to the product design engineers at Porticos, our house plants could soon be smart plants.

Remembering to water them, knowing how much light they need… keeping plants green is a lot of work. But one company is out to ensure we can all enjoy a little fresh basil on our lasagna. ROOT, founded by passionate agriculturalist Brielle Pettinelli and architect-minded Eric De Feo, started with the mission of making indoor-grown foods and herbs easier for everyday busy people—green thumbs not required.

When ROOT was still an industrial design concept, Porticos engineers worked with Brielle and Eric on its mechanical development. The original design outlined how an indoor plant system with smart capabilities could both distribute nutrients and alert the owners if the plants needed light or water. The product design goal was to turn the design into a commercial-quality prototype, one that represented an affordable price point and a beautiful home-friendly look. Brielle and Eric also needed a quick-turn prototype to attract investors to the concept.

With practical design ideas, the Porticos engineers created a 3D model of the ROOT, incorporating a watering pump, dispensing system, and an LED lighting system.

“The Root was unique in that the size of the parts had a large range, from the small components for assembling the plastics to the large reservoir base which holds gallons of water,” said Michelle Demers, Senior Project Lead at Porticos. “The deep drafts of the larger parts brought upon challenges that were overcome during close design collaboration with the toolmaker.”

The first prototype was ready in less than three months. The ROOT team was able to use the lightning-fast prototype to implement electrical and lighting hardware and to begin hydroponic testing.

Working in tandem with the ROOT team, the Porticos product design team focused on creating detailed designs for volume-manufacturing specifications while ROOT conducted testing. Guided by the prototype design and years of molding experience, the team at Porticos developed the 3D models for high-volume injection molding, maintaining a bill of materials and assisting with supplier inquiries.

“We enjoyed working with Porticos design and manage our plastic tooling – it was a seamless process from beginning to end, and we look forward to continuing our relationship,” said Eric De Feo, Co-Founder & COO of ROOT.

Always demonstrating a readiness for production tooling, the Porticos product design engineers procured and assembled additional prototypes based on customer-requested design updates and injection-molding profile and moldability requirements

The final prototype included two main components: the individual plant pod, which was carefully designed to hold the ROOT media and enable water and nutrient flow to the plant, and the full ROOT system, which holds the twelve plant pods and distributes light and water.

You can learn more about this indoor garden system and the progress on ROOT’s prototype at growwithroot.com.

The Porticos team was proud to work with ROOT on such an innovative product and enjoyed the opportunity to showcase the team’s dedication to the rapid prototyping and the team’s experience with molding. The ROOT indoor garden system prototype is another example of how Porticos Designs Products for the Way We’re Designed.

GPS for the rest of us: Porticos contributes product design to new, affordable asset-tracking device

When your inventory and your company assets are expensive, it’s good to know where they are and how they’re doing. But tracking devices can be bulky and cost prohibitive, meaning only the biggest of budgets can afford the luxury of resource tracking.

ViaTRAX QuickCheck Asset Management (VQAM) is the new solution: it’s a uniquely durable and cost-efficient GPS-based asset tracker, about the size of a deck of cards. Its affordability could bring the security and logistics of asset tracking to more industries than ever before. Built by the ViaTRAX Automation Corporation, VQAM is one of the smallest, longest lasting and simplest GPS asset trackers in the world, at a price in reach of small- to mid-size companies and individuals.

But because the device needed to be both small and capable, ViaTRAX Automation partnered with Porticos to develop the product’s plastic enclosure. ViaTRAX realized that to achieve the form factor and durability required, they needed to partner with companies experienced in developing rugged wireless devices.  Porticos and Device Solutions were the obvious choice to meet ViaTRAX’s development needs.

The ViaTRAX QuickCheck Asset Management (VQAM) is a uniquely durable and cost-efficient GPS-based asset tracker
Porticos delivered a robust weatherproof enclosure in an inconspicuous package.

The Porticos team had to meet very demanding product requirements for this design. The team had to ensure the plastic enclosure would keep the device small while also providing room for a battery, circuit board, sensors, and mounting flanges while maintaining a small footprint. Furthermore the device needed to meet ingress protection standard IP67 (waterproof to 1 meter and dust tight) while maintaining a discreet look.

“After decades in the tech industry, our core team has a lot of experience in software and business in general however we are relative newcomers to hardware design and manufacturing,” said Sean Webster, VP of Business Development. “Porticos has been so helpful in the design process. They were friendly, attentive to detail and helped us learn along the way. We are very pleased with the final design and are impressed with the final product.  We would not be where we are today without the help and expertise of Porticos.”

What makes the VQAM even more capable is that it can provide location information even when a GPS signal is unavailable,” explains Porticos Lead Project Manager Ludmila West. “In those situations, for example if the asset is inside a metal building, the VQAM switches from GPS location to using the cellular towers for location.”

The VQAM is a small, durable, battery powered GPS asset tracker which can be easily mounted to the asset.  It is built to operate for up to three years with periodic location and health reporting. Overall, this dynamic unit is ideal for inexpensive asset tracking across industries and consumer types.  The ViaTRAX VQAM is another example of how Porticos Designs Products for the way We’re Designed.

The ViaTRAX QuickCheck Asset Management (VQAM) is a uniquely durable and cost-efficient GPS-based asset tracker

A phone with no phone bill? Porticos-designed adapter turns iPod into a wi-fi phone!

The new MorphCase 5G VoIP adapter turns an Apple iPod Touch into a free-to-use, wifi-enabled smartphone. Conceptualized by Dexterity, LLC, the adapter was envisioned as a low-cost communication solution for families wary of cellular phone bills.

This first version of the MorphCase only fit the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Generation iPod Touch. But the recently completed MorphCase 5G design not only fits the 5th Generation iPod Touch—its robust, low-profile case anticipates future iPod Touch models, promising extended utility.

morphcase rendering ipod adapter
Businesses, individuals, and families can use the MorphCase 5G with their iPod touch to keep from paying a cellular phone bill.

When Dexterity, LLC originally contacted Porticos with the challenge, the plan was to update the existing MorphCase for the size of the 5th generation iPod touch, but Porticos also focused on value-engineering for manufacturability, streamlining of design features, and taking great ideas to production.

“Our expertise identified ways to improve the internal systems, fortify the exterior casing, and optimize electronics and routing for ease of manufacturing and assembly,” explained Greg Patterson, President of Porticos. “This was a great example of what can be achieved when the customer and engineering team are working together and receptive to new ideas.”

morphcase adapter for ipod turn ipod into phone
The second-generation MorphCase design integrates new structural features for a streamlined profile and ease of manufacturing.

“The value Porticos brings to engineering and design for manufacturability has made them the collaborative team I can’t do without,” said Adrienne Harrington, creator of the MorphCase. “Anyone in need of flawless engineering and design work—no matter what stage—should look no further.”

With free wi-fi available everywhere (home, school, work, and millions of hotspots), all users need is the MorphCase 5G and any VoIP App to transform their iPod Touch into a no-monthly-bill Wi-Fi Smartphone. With Apple FaceTime, iMessage, and countless social media apps, along with the VoIP-enabled calls and texts, the opportunities for users to stay in touch over wi-fi are better than ever.