Dell, a longtime leader in technology and the fast production of hardware and software that provide quality products for businesses and consumers alike, recently sought ideation and creative brainstorming for a new project. This project aimed to generate multiple concepts for a convertible-type computing device that would be larger than a traditional smartphone, but different from typical tablet devices and other convertible products currently on the market. Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, held multiple brainstorming sessions with Dell, which resulted in more than 14 concept designs being picked for further refinement to create the final product.
Brainstorming and Concept Development in Support of Product Differentiation
Porticos’s hardware engineers were requested to generate multiple concepts for a convertible-type computing device by Dell, that would be larger than a traditional smartphone, but different from typical tablet PC devices or other convertible products currently on the market. There was emphasis placed on developing concepts for a differentiated input method, and convertibility for multiple use cases and configurations.
To accomplish the requirements from Dell in the quick, efficient way that Porticos’ hardware engineers work in, they held multiple brainstorming sessions that generated more than 14 concept designs. These concept designs were then reviewed with Dell, to make sure all parties were aware and on board with down selection and refinement. Then, the selected concepts were refined, and Porticos’ hardware engineers worked with partners of Porticos to create highly cosmetic prototypes that Dell used to conduct internal reviews and user studies.
Porticos is proud to have partnered with Dell on this project, and to have once again had a hand in driving new, innovative technology into the hands of businesses and consumers. Our hardware engineers’ commitment to fast, quality work and ensuring the needs of our partners are consistently and throughly met every time they are requested to work with another company is how we reiterate our love for technology and innovation.
Radioactive medicines and dyes, which enable PET scanning and other modern diagnostic methods, are created by placing an organic substance in front of a particle accelerator and irradiating the substance. Then, this allows the person analyzing the data provided during this process to be able to properly view and identify what should or should not be brought to the attention of a medical professional or patient.
A local inventor and entrepreneur came to Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC with the prototype of an “Accelerator Target” which would allow fast and economical production of a radioactive medical dye. The client asked us to optimize the size and function of the prototype while simplifying the manufacture and assembly processes.
In addition to accomplishing these tasks, Porticos’s hardware design engineers were able to create a separate “fill station” to support the device. Our engineers also helped the client establish a supply chain appropriate to the scale and schedule of the project. The production of this accelerator target allows for a much quicker process altogether, and the efficiency of having a fill station nearby to support the device makes it available for use for longer periods of time. Additionally, this technology supports PET scanning and modern diagnostic methods alike, so this also opens a window for technology to evolve in such a way that makes the use of the accelerator target more of a necessity and less of an option or alternative to what is already being used.
The product is now used in the United States and Europe, and Porticos hopes this product will continue to reach those who need it most in the medical field, as it saves time, money, resources, and is a fast, safe, and efficient way to render more timely results. Our hardware engineers remain committed to bring new, innovative products to the market, making the lives of businesses and customers simpler and better in quality.
DuPont Electronics & Imaging, a technology company that brings technology-driven solutions around the world has created conductive ink that can be thermoformed, and they partnered with Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC to create a demo to showcase how it works. Porticos’ hardware engineers worked with DuPont to define how the demo would look and how it should work, then we designed, engineered, and built it. This revolutionary ink unlocks a new set of possibilities for electronic products. Instead of traditional buttons and switches—which takes up a lot of space on electronics—this conductive ink can create switches that are printed into electronics, making devices lighter and more beautiful. It also cuts down on production costs and time with its precision and modernization.
Thanks to the demo built by Porticos’ hardware engineers, DuPont can share more about the benefits and positive change using conductive ink provides with the global solutions they provide to other businesses and technologically-adept people around the world, and can also consider themselves leaders on the forefront of how this new technology will revolutionize the future of electronics. Porticos is proud to have partnered with a company as committed to addressing customers’ immediate needs as it pertains to technology as we are.
Learn more about Porticos’ collaborative effort with DuPont below!
BD Technologies and Innovation, who create next-generation technologies in Durham, NC, developed a needle-free vaccine delivery system as part of a grant supported by the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. To be viable in small villages within developing countries—which, more times than not, is where the greatest need lies—the system cannot require the use of refrigeration or electricity of any sort and it must be simple to administer by minimally-trained personnel.
Also, the system must be effective on children, ages 1-4—who are not capable of cooperation—or adults, and must be effectively kept safe from spreading disease, which can be done easily by not allowing re-use. Finally, the system must be relatively compact for shipping, it cannot require any special means of disposal, and, most importantly of all, it must have a cost-per-unit dose equal to, or, less than, existing injection methods. This posed as a grand challenge for hardware engineers.
BD Technologies turned to Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, for innovative product engineering to help its team develop the delivery system that could be tested in Phase I clinical trials. Porticos’ hardware engineering team provided new thinking and insight to discover simple solutions that were easy to prototype for laboratory testing, ultimately helping BD extend its intellectual property based on the Solovent platform.
The process Porticos took to get to this point was keeping in mind the core needs of BD while emphasizing the need for fast, flawless production, accuracy in the findings of the testing process, and continuing to elevate the need for simplicity.
The approach Porticos ultimately pursued was aerosolizing a dose of powdered vaccine for inhalation, using a simple device constructed of basic yet effective materials. BD utilized its Solovent unit’s dry dose powder inhaler (DPI) platform to aerosolize the powder, and needed a means of containing the cloud of vaccine, while simultaneously providing an interface for effective delivery to patients.
Because of the efficiency of Porticos’ engineers and the concept design behind the entire process, BD Technologies was able to effectively execute their desire for a needle-free vaccine delivery system, and it is cost-effective, not dependent on electricity, and able to be administered by even the most inexperienced personnel.
Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, partnered with technology and service innovators, Bell & Howell on the creation of The Ascender 16. The Ascender 16 is a mail insertion system that can insert a variety of shades of sizes as it pertains to mail and packages. Porticos’ hardware engineers collaborated on the development of the 4920 Format Turn Module for the Ascender 16 system itself.
This module makes the changeover process more efficient and accurate. The system’s changeover from a letter mail job to a flat mail job used to require time and a knowledgeable system operator, but this module reduces changeover need, and the amount of time needed to ensure the safe and reliable insertion of mail.
Module Hardware Design Specifications
The 4920 Format Turn Module contains a feed-through mode—or a “no turn” mode—which feeds unfolded and folded material with dimensions from 3″ to 12″ in length, and up to 0.25″ in width, or thickness. The module itself fits inside the Ascender system in the place of a previously used module, but adds no increase in size while also providing all the functions of the old module in addition to the format change capability that the module brings forward.
Porticos’ hardware engineers produced a software to accompany the module that is reconfigurable to either feed material straight through, or rotate flat stock material 90 degrees. The module is able to handle up to 1/4″ of materials that are 8.5 x 11 or A4, and turns 10,000 cycles per hour.
Concept Design Highlights
Porticos’ hardware design engineers originally faced some surface speed variations between belts and rollers, which posed as a challenge to consistent feeding. However, carefully tuning pulley sizes during prototype testing resulted in smooth operation.
Attention to all inertias and motor capabilities were important in the design concept. To accomplish the turn, the system is required to decelerate each packet from a transport speed of 150 inches per second, to a full stop. From there, it rotates 90 degrees then accelerates back to 150 inches per second. All of this occurs in about 1/4 of a second. Porticos was able to forsee the frictional characteristics and the durability of the rollers that accomplish the format changes were critical for proper operation. This then gave Porticos the foresight to carefully select materials, specialized coatings, and roller configuration. Overall, this led to a design that could precisely accomplish rotating the material 90 degrees while enduring long-term testing.
Porticos worked with Bell & Howell to develop the original, state-of-the-art Solix™ Mail Tray Loader, which handles up to 30,000 envelopes per hour. The revolutionary Ascender 16 system now has a module that enhances one of its more difficult processes, thanks to teamwork, innovation, and experience within Porticos’ hardware engineering team and concept design expertise.
Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, created yet another innovative, essential device—a 5-inch, full high-definition on-camera monitor. This on-camera monitor has a brilliant display, desirable form factor, and is easy to transport. Porticos’ hardware engineers’ goal was to design a durable, minimal, small-sized yet visually appealing, HD monitor that would be easy and reliable to manufacture and assemble.
Product Design Challenges Overcome
The concept design for the on-camera monitor required no major changes to the existing printed circuit board (PCB). This means that Porticos’ hardware engineers were able to create a design that reinforced the delicate HD display to improve robustness in both manufacturing and the end-use of the product. Porticos also created the design to shock-mount the display for improved product durability while simplifying product assembly. This ensures that in both transport and use, the on-camera monitor stays in place, and consumers can use without wondering if the device will go flying off their camera at any point in time.
The innovative monitor was created with an extremely durable chassis design, compatible for manufacture by machining or die casting, and its battery contacts is integrated into the rear cover. While there is a requirement added to integrate an infrared transceiver for remote control after the initial mechanical design was completed, it was done in such a way that it did not add to the size of the overall product.
Porticos’ hardware engineers created designs for mini-joysticks and placed external buttons in minimal space that are still easy to access and press, as well as an overall clean-looking design for use with or without a user-replaceable screen protector. However, this product was designed to be durable enough to work well without a screen protector, which can largely be attributed to the shock-mounting of the product to the camera itself. To maximize the small amount of space given, a hinged SD card access door was created and is located on the device in a manner that did not compromise the look of the exterior appearance.
Concept Design Highlights
Due to the demand for an on-camera monitor, the customer was able to utilize the same mechanical design for their 700 series monitors—which contains a larger screen—by scaling it up, reducing both the cost of development, and the time it takes to market. Additionally, the larger monitor size was able to sustain the same build chassis as the 500 series monitors which provided it with the same stability and durability.
Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC. This project is an example of Porticos’ design and engineering expertise, crafting solutions for heavy industrial machinery and other heavy equipment.
For the operation of large construction equipment, such as an excavator or backhoe operator, shields are undeniably crucial and necessary to execute the operation of said machinery effectively. During the hammering operation at quarries and in mining sites, shields protect operators from debris, and keep them moving forward steadily on difficult terrain.
With so many different cab models, it can be extremely difficult to focus on suggesting a certain type of shield while respecting industry specifications. This is due to the variety in cab frames, the sizes of the cabs, and what those who are handling the machinery hope to gain from a shield. The geometry and curvature of the cab’s glass also has to be considered, along with the location and availability of bosses.
Many frame designs require a unique attachment strategy for each cab style—because of the variety in location, depth and the number of bosses welded onto a cab’s frame. This leads to distinct and obvious issues with parts, training, installation, cost, and more.
Porticos’ hardware engineering team sought to create shield mounts that could both be strong enough to protect operators, and flexible enough to accommodate multiple cab models. This innovative concept design required attention to the industrial standard, and an awareness of the mechanisms used to make the cabs themselves function above all else.
To solve this unique product design challenge for this particular heavy industrial machinery, Porticos worked with many industry partners. From there, Porticos’ hardware engineering team developed a distinctive mount—a combination of brackets with slotted holes, universal ball joints and threaded rods that enabled the shield to mount to the frame of any cab without any issues.
Through this process, Porticos was able to find the perfect solution to reduce the number of unique parts needed for the installation of a sheila, and make a modular kit that is flexible enough to accommodate the majority of the varied cab model styles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”