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Highland Biosciences has used the Protomold injection moulding service from Proto Labs to finalise the design of its Pyroxpress unit, which tests clinical implants, vaccines and drugs for contamination by bacterial endotoxin.

The design comprises an eight-channel reader unit into which disposable plastic cartridges containing samples are slotted. The test starts automatically upon detection of the sample, with results appearing within five minutes.

A main challenge faced by Highland Biosciences was developing the cartridge, a plastic component measuring around 40 x 25mm that comes in two parts — top and bottom — and also features a small handle.

The company initially experimented with rapid prototyping based on stereolithography technology, but with unsatisfactory results.

Highland Biosciences then came across the Protomold website and was able to finalise the cartridge design.

Key benefits of product application

  • Emma Day, technical director at Highland Biosciences, admitted there were more than a few design revisions during the course of developing the cartridge — a process made more difficult by stringent deadlines for demonstrations of Pyroxpress to potential customers.
  • She said: ‘We took the design to its limits and gave Protomold a terrible time, but I have to say it took it all in its stride. The automated design feasibility check on the Protomold website is fantastic and provides the reassurance that features such as draft angles and radii are in the right places.’
  • Using Protomold, Highland Biosciences was getting a turnaround time of three to five days for typical batches of approximately 1,000 parts.
  • Day said that Protomold also pulled out all the stops to supply clean parts, meaning Highland Biosciences witnessed very little in the way of background contamination.
  • Using Protomold, the company was able to trial many materials with different design properties.
  • From the performance data derived by this iterative process, the company settled on a final design material.

Proto Labs

Proto Labs delivers fully functional prototypes in production-intent materials to dramatically cut the cost and time normally associated with product development. This empowers designers and engineers with the means to rapidly develop, test, and get their products to market first in an ever-competitive global market place.

Proto Labs delivers fully functional prototypes in production-intent materials to dramatically cut the cost and time normally associated with product development. This empowers designers and engineers with the means to rapidly develop, test, and get their products to market first in an ever-competitive global market place.

Protomold delivers injection-moulded parts from moulds manufactured utilising state-of-the-art high-speed CNC machining technologies. Parts can be moulded using almost any engineering-grade resin and are ideal for prototyping, bridge tooling and low-volume production.

First Cut satisfies the need for functional prototypes much earlier in the development cycle for quantities of 1–10+. Because First Cut delivers prototypes in engineering-grade resins and aluminium they will have real material properties and improved surface finishes. In other words, they will be functional.

When you submit your 3D CAD model, Proto Labs’ powerful super-compute cluster creates an interactive quote giving pricing options and where appropriate, suggesting changes to improve manufacturability. You simply interact with your quote online, tailor options such as material and delivery to your requirements and with every change, the pricing information automatically updates. This built-in ‘what-if’ analysis enables last-minute project refinements to be accommodated at the click of a button.

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