First-of-its-Kind Machine

CLIENT: Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics


SERVICES: Research, Design, Engineering, Prototyping

Design Challenge
Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, a Johnson & Johnson Company, is a market leader in medical diagnostic systems. In 2005, they set out to develop an advanced high capacity blood analysis system, the VITROS 5600. The new device would integrate multiple tests into a single platform, increasing speed and accuracy,  resulting in a first-of-its-kind machine with Sample Centered Processing. Ortho-Clinical brought the technical expertise and turned to Priority Designs to deliver improved ergonomics, visual branding, mechanical engineering, prototyping and manufacturing support.

Research & Ergonomic Investigation

With the basic system architecture defined by Ortho-Clinical, Priority Designs knew that user feedback would be critical to a successful design. Initial research included on-site interviews and observation of medical professionals in action. The Priority Designs team observed, questioned, photographed and recorded as lab techs worked with existing blood analyzers. Participants inserted samples, entered data, added reagents and accessed various parts of the machines. These insights influenced the initial design concepts, which integrated user-centric design features with the physical realities of the complex technical package inside. Priority Designs built full-scale mock-ups and took them back into the field for review by technicians. Ultimately, the design’s functionality was validated across an ergonomic range that spanned the 5th percentile female to the 95th percentile male.

Engineering Analysis and Documentation

With the design features validated, Priority Designs began sweating the details. Large articulating panels needed to be counterbalanced, recessed hinges had to provide clearance, sub-assemblies had to be packaged tightly to meet stringent shipping and footprint requirements. A centralized CAD database enabled all team members to collaborate and review design changes in real time. The Pro/Engineer files were used for numerous rounds of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to validate strength and performance prior to production. This complex assembly also required calculating component stack-ups based on manufacturing tolerances to ensure proper fit and function. Priority Designs worked closely with the toolers and molders to maintain the production database and documentation of all cabinetry related components to full GD&T standards.

Prototype Fabrication

3D CAD models and simulations are essential to efficient product development, but the real test comes when you bolt things together for the first time. With the database finalized, the team of model makers went to work. Priority Designs machined, molded then cast the parts required for 14 sets of prototype cabinets. These parts, along with all their attachment hardware, were used to validate fit, function and appearance. The beta production units were also used for assembly tests by production vendors, as well as, marketing and tradeshow purposes.

The Result

When laboratories run better, doctors know results sooner and patients’ lives change. The Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics VITROS 5600 integrates two major testing platforms into a single system, providing patients and health care providers with fast, accurate results. The design language reinforces the Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics brand while addressing user needs. Tightly packaged, the unit requires little floor space and has become the springboard technology platform for other OCD machines, such as, the VITROS 3600. While this complex system may live in the backroom of a hospital and you may never see one, you can rest assured every detail was thoughtfully designed and engineered.

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