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Midas Pattern has helped Matrix Microscience and Designedge to create a laboratory testing unit that reduces the time needed to detect pathogens by as much as half.

One of the first uses of the new Pathatrix Auto product has been for the pre-admission screening of elective hospital patients for the MRSA bacteria, thus preventing the introduction of the disease onto the wards.

The new product, which supercedes an earlier, manual process, automatically tests food and other samples for the presence of target pathogens in the laboratory.

It does this by using magnetic antibody-coated beads that capture the target; these are then washed and concentrated to enable rapid detection with a variety of different systems.

This patented process takes just 15 minutes and, when coupled to sensitive detection systems, can yield results in as little as between two and six hours from the receipt of the sample.

Validation trials have demonstrated that the Pathatrix Auto system is more sensitive than many of the current standard methods, thus providing a more effective solution to the need to rapidly test food and other samples.

The ergonomic design and visual appeal of the unit are said to be vital for its success in a target market that includes both health-service laboratories and a range of food-preparation organisations.

Cambridge-based consultancy Designedge created a solution consisting of five sample ‘cassettes’, each of which holds a plug-in cartridge of test consumables, housed in a streamlined moulding and styled in Matrix Microscience corporate colours.

The flexibility of the design concept is based on the ability to insert different testing ‘kits’ into the cassettes, depending on the test being carried out.

The consumables and inserts used for health screening are different from those used in food testing.

Reflecting these differences, the product is labelled and branded to suit each market and the design of the moulding has taken into account the requirement to incorporate alternative product branding in each case.

With a wipe-clean surface and touch-screen operation, the new design is intended to make the Pathatrix Auto system suitable for health and food-production laboratories.

However, the short manufacturing runs, high surface quality, relatively large moulding size and close tolerances required of the external housing moulding could have posed a manufacturing challenge, which is why Designedge called on Midas Pattern.

Over the course of several meetings between the designers and Midas Pattern, the details of the housing moulding were refined to ensure trouble-free manufacturing and the best fit between the cassettes and the housing, as well as optimising the position and angle of the touch screen, which, owing to its location on the upper curved face, is not in the line of draw of the moulding.

It was decided to manufacture the mouldings using the Midas composite-resin MRIM tooling process, which uses a blend of laminated and cast resins, incorporating areas of CNC-machined aluminium and steel to produce polyurethane mouldings in small batches, with short production lead times and which can accommodate both thick and thin sections, square faces, undercuts and cast features and which are QMS accredited to ISO9001:2000.

In this instance, Midas also painted the finished mouldings in Matrix’s corporate colours – one of a range of additional services that the company offers, including screen printing and final assembly.

Midas Pattern

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