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.

Your Product Design and Development Engineering Consulting Firm is Growing. And 3D Printing.

With great support from our customers, employees, and partners, Porticos continues to grow. Here are some new things you might see around our office.

New Capabilities and Equipment

Every year, Porticos adds to our infrastructure to support upcoming projects.  In the last few months we have deployed:

  • Google Cloud “Virtual Machine” to speed up simulations. This virtual computer boasts up to 96 CPUs running in parallel, which dramatically accelerates Computational Fluid Dynamics and Structural FEA simulations.
  • Three-axis CNC machining center. Fabrication of Proof-Of-Concept prototypes no longer relies on manual machining or outsourcing.  We can now go from CAD to physical part in the same day.
  • Laser Cutter. This machine has been used every single week since we installed it in January.  It can cut shapes from most non-metal materials up to ¼” thick.  We’ve used it to make custom rubber seals, structural mounting plates, and alignment jigs.
  • 3D Printer. We’ve added even more 3D printing capability with a benchtop unit that can print up to 5 materials in a single model.

New Knowledge – No Rest for the Learned

We’re proud of our extremely well-credentialed staff.  Of course, every employee has an engineering degree, but some have gone further:

  • 6 have Master of Science degrees
  • 2 hold a Professional Engineer license
  • 8 have advanced CAD credentials (e.g., Certified Solidworks Professional)
  • Several have additional degrees including Mathematics, Physics, Material Science, Environmental Engineering, and Economics.
  • Plus a host of technical certificates like Six Sigma, Systems Engineering, Refrigeration, etc.

On top of all that learning, our top three inventors are named on 30, 27, and 24 issued patents.  Porticos employees now boast 115 issued patents, with more slated to issue later this year.  We are going to need a bigger wall…

Porticos Patent Wall
The Patent Wall at Porticos

Growing is a Pain!

Almost 12 years ago, Porticos purchased 7500 square feet at the Copeland Oaks office park.  It’s been our home and Global HQ ever since.  Back then it was more space than we needed.  We leased one third to another firm, and installed a pool table to take up floor space (and lunch breaks.)

Then we expanded.  We had to turn the “spare” bay into a workshop.

Then we grew again, banishing the pool table in order to add more offices.

Now the office and the workshop are both at capacity, and we are looking forward to continued growth.  What does the future hold?  A second site?  A mezzanine?  A new pool table?  Stay tuned…

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” -Benjamin Franklin

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.

Product Design and Development Example: Redesigned Gear Mechanism

Say this five times fast… custom involute gear mechanism that can convert rotational motion into precisely timed intermittent linear or reciprocating motion.

At first glance, this commercial generic gear mechanism is what the Porticos team needed. After looking into the fine details, however, it had many flaws, and it was a good start for a redesign.

Redesign Projects in Product Design: Proof of Concept

The team had a tall order with a short timeframe ahead of them to make a new design work as a proof of concept prototype. Detailed design included analysis of the gears, the turn knob, the spring and life of the spring, plastic and sheet metal component design of 27 custom-made parts, analysis of assembly tolerances, materials selection, detailed 2D part drawings with associated tolerances.

The team worked up several concepts, each building on the last. The final prototyped gear is by far easier to manufacture, has larger and stronger teeth, and alignment concerns have been eliminated.

When Product Design Leads to Patents

Kudos to the Porticos team as the customer submitted at least one design patent application with Porticos engineers named as the inventors.

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