11/03/2016

GX Systems Limited

Life changing design

The medical industry makes a very discerning client for any product design consultancy, there is so much more to consider than simply a sleek design. Developing innovative medical products involves more than just product design – it is interdisciplinary by nature, combining exceptional design with groundbreaking engineering.

One company who knows how to marry design with functionality and take a conceptual idea for a medical or scientific device, turning it into a commercially viable product, is GX. Over the past thirty years their design engineering skills have helped improve the working environment for healthcare workers and most importantly allowed many health professionals to hone their skills.

“Designing for the healthcare sector can be challenging, yet it is probably one of the most rewarding sectors, since the product development team see how their work can literally change lives. At GX we have designed a wide variety of medical products over our thirty years, from a complex model gut using life science technology, through to small rugged and water resistant pager for healthcare professionals,” says Mark Helmich, managing director of GX.

“It is an interesting and challenging market to work in, since it relies on so many skills and expertise not just product design. Our product development team includes experts whose knowledge of biotechnology, electronics and optronics all make sure we can turn clients’ ideas into innovative and functional, commercially viable products.”

Small is beautiful
Unlike other sectors, in the medical sector many of the products are incredibly small, which brings with it a host of challenges. As Mark recalls one client recently enlisted GX’s help to assist them develop an attachment for a charged particle microscope, capable of holding a single carbon fibre of just 10 microns in diameter. The challenge when working with such minute components is how to produce them with exact precision, using an economical production method.

“Our product development team initially focused on using micro machined components,” notes Mark. “However, when these proved too costly to produce, we opted to use precise photo etching techniques. This not only drastically reduced the manufacturing costs, but provided us with a finished product capable of holding such a fine fibre.”

Making a safer environment
Some of the products that GX designed for the healthcare sector are vital teaching aids to help key professionals hone their skills. The challenge here has been to develop a product which simulates a real life situation. Included in the devices that GX has successfully designed is one which allows surgeons to practice laparoscopic surgery, and another for sonographers to perfect their ultrasound skills. Most recently the product development team has been considering how to help improve the safety of healthcare workers, many of whom work on the frontline, frequently on their own.

“Certain healthcare workers can feel incredibly vulnerable during their working day since they are susceptible to unprovoked attacks by patients,” comments Mark. “To help provide an added level of safety one of our clients approached us to design a small, rugged paging device. Our product team developed a radio linked pager device which could attract attention in the event of an attack. They even managed to incorporate a two-way speaker allowing the wearer to remain in contact with a central control point.”

Designed to perform
Over the past thirty years GX has rightly earnt a reputation for finding practical ways of designing profitable medical devices. Not all their designs are destined to be manufactured, some clients simply need a functioning prototype to demonstrate how their device operates in order to attract external funding.

“Developing a one off, effective and working demonstrator that functions as the real product, requires skill and precision - there is no room for error. We are able to provide this service because of the combined skills of all our product development team,” says Mark.

One of GX’s most recent success stories was developing a working demonstrator for a device used to disperse the surgical smoke that builds up during laparoscopic surgery. The team faced the unusual added challenge that it needed to be suitable to be carried as hand luggage when flying.

“Designing medical products can be challenging,” comments Mark, “yet it is very gratifying to see that many of the designs and concept products that we developed for medical sector are now used widely within the healthcare sector. Some have even won awards.”

He continues: “A design we collaborated on with a client has recently scooped two innovation awards. The Ferroguard, which we developed for Metrasens, helps to detect metal before patients have an MRI scan. The design was awarded the 2015 Institute of Physics Innovation Award and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) award for ‘Measurement in Action.”

- See more at: http://www.gxgroup.com/product-design-news/february-2016#sthash.zfePUWTN.dpuf

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