Porticos Engineers Rugged Laptop

Dell, a popular developer of computers and other innovative technology, wanted to develop a ruggedized variant of a product from their laptop computer line. They turned to Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, for their expertise in this area.

Latitude ATG Development Challenges

The Latitude ATG is a tough, All-Terrain Grade laptop designed for industries like construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, as well as public organizations such as police forces. Built and tested to meet MIL-STD 810F—a tough military standard of durability—the Latitude ATG is designed to meet almost any physical challenge and the most demanding work environments.

Porticos’ hardware design engineers have ample experience designing products to meet the MIL-810F requirements and a history of supporting Dell on other projects, and was honored to design the ATG.

The two most challenging aspects of the ATG project were isolation of the hard drive and display, and designing the hinge and latch systems to accommodate the new design. What made the hard drive even more difficult a task was the need for it to fit into the same space currently allocated in the non-ATG D620 Latitude platform. The solution was to take a physically smaller Hitachi hard drive, and design a protective case that would function as the interface to the existing electrical connections. This also effectively protected the hard drive from shock and vibration.

The hard drive with it’s mated rigid flex was secured in a frame molded from EAR Specialty C8002 isolation material, then sandwiched between two sheets of 3M “G Sheet.” To meet the thickness limitations while still addressing stiffness goals, a titanium stamping was mated to a magnesium casting to form the mechanical enclosure. Similar isolation solutions were chosen to support the display.

After modeling the hinge mechanism and latches in Pro-Engineer, Porticos’ hardware engineers conducted finite element analysis (FEA) using the COSMOS analysis tool. The design was optimized to address high-stress areas, and the results were shared with the manufacturing source.

In addition to the structural analysis conducted, Failure Mode Effect and Analysis (FMEA) and Design For Assembly (DFA) were conducted. The feedback was then incorporated into the final Pro-E 3D CAD geometry and drawings.

With its shock-mounted, removable hard drive, shock-mounted LCD screen, a dust and spill-resistant keyboard, port covers and highly durable, textured paint to protect against scratches, scuffs and daily wear, the Latitude ATG is prepared for life working in the field.

The Smallest BioMedical System

Porticos and Device Solutions worked closely to optimize placement efficiency to create the smallest BioMedical system package possible. This was especially important for both units because power consumption needs to support a 30-day transmission period, which is provided by a large battery cell.

Ambulatory ECG Monitoring System Product Development

BioMedical Systems (now part of ERT), has been providing medical data analysis and support for physicians and their patients for nearly 40 years. They saw a need for a mobile cardiac telemetry system that could take advantage of their sophisticated arrhythmia analysis software, record the data and transmit that information in real time to a group of certified cardiac technicians. To make their vision a reality, they came to Porticos and Device Solutions—one of Porticos’ partners—who experienced in hardware and software development for wireless devices. Herein, the TruVue™ product was born.

The TruVue™ system consists of a patient-worn ECG recording device, a hand-held device that receives and analyzes the information from the recording device. The device then transmits the real-time data to the BioMedical Systems headquarters in St. Louis, where the data is analyzed further and formatted for easy access by the physician.

Porticos’ hardware engineers created the 3D CAD data using Unigraphics software. Bluetooth was chosen as the wireless communication protocol between the patient-worn device and the hand-held device, while GSM-based-cellular was used to transmit between the hand-held and the cardiac center.

In order to minimize detuning of the chip antenna in the patient-worn device, snap features were incorporated into the PC/ABS housings to limit the need for metal assembly hardware. FEA was conducted in Ansys to ensure snap features would remain secure during normal use and drop scenarios.

One of the unique features for the hand-held was the keypad. In order to support the user interface and reduce confusion to the patient, the keys had to be individually backlit and, at the same time, isolated from the surrounding keys. This way, as the menu options changes on the display, only the keys applicable for those options would be lit. The result is deceptively simple-looking keypad, that integrates mechanical and software user interface to create an intuitive and positive experience for the patient.

Hardware Production Results

Thanks to the hard work of Porticos and Device Solutions, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Biomedical Systems 510(k) clearance to market TruVue™, a truly wireless ambulatory ECG monitoring system. Additionally, TruVue™ has made its mark as the industry’s first cardiac Mobile Telemetry system that analyzes, records and transmits every heartbeat for up to 30 days.

Porticos Develops RFID Reader

Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, has developed many products for the Sirit—currently owned by 3M—portfolio. The RFID reader unit displayed is a good example of the type of products Porticos’ hardware engineers are not only capable of conceptualizing, but producing.

Product Design Concept

The harsh industrial environment in which items such as RFID readers can be developed require IP protection. To ensure IP protection, effectively securing the safety of consumers in the future, Porticos’ hardware engineers prioritized the ability to test the RFID reader in a safe environment. They worked hard allow space in their process for trial and error, while not sacrificing the security of the project overall.

The electronic functionality requires complete RF isolation from the outside world, as well as between the digital and RF sections inside of the unit. The high-power output for the transmitter required creative thermal management solutions. During the design concept process, Porticos kept in mind the need to execute all requirements while not jeopardizing the cost, time spent in production, or build quality.

Their solution was to integrate 3 separate sections—RF, Digital and Power Supply—within the enclosure design. Porticos’s hardware engineer team conducted a thermal analysis to determine the most efficient means of handling the heat dissipation without requiring force cooling, otherwise known as fans. The resulting housings were die cast aluminum, with secondary operations for the cosmetics and critical sealing surfaces. These housings were manufactured by Porticos’ partner Funfiek.

The final product passed all radiated emissions and thermal tests with no issues. This resulted in the implementation of the reader into products on the market today. RFID readers are quickly becoming the most necessary piece of technology that many companies are looking to integrate into their products.

Porticos is proud to have worked diligently on such an essential, innovative piece of technology that is essential for the future.

Porticos Develops Automated Medication Dispenser

Porticos, a product design and product development engineering consulting firm in Morrisville, NC, and Porticos Asia, the Hong Kong team which leverages Asian manufacturing for US and European clients, collaborated on a concept design that ensures accurate and consistent medication dosing for those concerned for their loved ones.

This smart, connected health hub dispenses the right pills at the right time of day. Since patients and pharmacists don’t have to sort or count pills with this devices, the dangers of human error are drastically reduced. Plus, the device can send reminder alerts to patients and connected them to trained pharmacists who can answer questions and give them advice.

Finally, patients and their loved ones can feel confident that medications are being taken properly, at the correct time, consistently with this wireless device that could fit easily into any home. Those who have been ridden with concern for their loved one on multiple medications are finally afforded some peace of mind with this life-changing device!

Detail Design: 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 device can properly dispense. For this innovative machine, that means a cartridge containing prepackaged foils of medicine. To meet this need, Porticos developed and designed “The Spooler.” The Spooler allows the pharmacist to efficiently and reliably package the patient-specific foils into cartridges that can then be put into the unit for dispensing by the patient.

Developing a product with such a high-stakes role in patient health presented several challenges. First, the Porticos product 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 patient 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 faced by 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’ hardware engineers developed a variety of unique mechanisms, and performed designs 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 the most critical part of patient care for this device.

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 manufacturing. Case-in-point—an obstacle that was identified during initial prototype functional trails, specifically engagement and disengagement, was the Spooler’s “arm.” The arm interfaces with a hub in the cartridge to perform the winding function. Originally, Porticos’ hardware engineers designed a traditional latching mechanism to secure the arm in place, but soon realized that optimizing the process necessary to ensure good engagement with the cartridge hub, and the need for the pharmacists to easily disengage the arm was problematic. To solve this challenge, the team of hardware engineers devised a unique magnetic solution that not only met the functionality requirements, but exceeded the life cycle requirements as well.

As further testament to Porticos’ innovative contribution to the Spooler and overall product, Porticos’ engineers were named as inventor on multiple patents.

Hardware Production Challenge: Balancing Cost and Medical Standards

Once the Spooler was designed, a cost-competitive production plan that could also meet the high-quality standards for medical equipment was needed. Porticos Asia, the hardware 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. Ultimately, 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.

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