Week 7: Acid and Collaboration

In last week’s blog I did some research on ideas to solve Project 1- adjusting various elements of a process to change the color of wires from brown to silver. This week my coworker Veronica and I got to test one of those ideas, and we’re happy to say the process worked! Because of Veronica’s quick observations and actions contacting several departments in manufacturing and safety, we were able to test the wires very quickly and witness the color change from brown to silver. Changing colors may not seem like a big deal, but qualities such as color are actually very important in medical devices.

Imagine a doctor shows you the device he will use to perform a minimally invasive procedure on you. This device is sleek, shiny, colorful, and compact-you can see the device is designed well and your nerves about the procedure lighten. The doctor is explaining parts of the device to you and how it will interact with your body. At this moment you notice something. An important-looking wire emerges from the device and it appears brown, similar to the color of rust. Previous life experiences of fish hooks and old nails flash before your eyes, and a red flag enters your brain. Rusty brown = unsafe.

The perspective of the user is very important to consider when creating medical devices. For all the engineers out there: yes, even color matters.

In the picture above, Veronica is pouring a strong acid into a beaker for our test.

Here I am demonstrating the proper way to wear safety gear:)

Although this process Veronica and I tested was a success, the chemicals involved are quite dangerous in large quantities (like, melt-through-your-skin-and-your-bones dangerous). When planning a future upscale of this process, it’s important to consider the risks of workers interacting with these chemicals every day. Therefore, we will keep testing safer methods to change the colors of the wires- but it’s nice to know we have a backup solution.

Project 2 is in full speed. I’m working on a 3D visualization system to determine if a different medical device passes or fails a final inspection. The system must measure an intricate geometry and determine if that device will perform in the correct orientation during a procedure. I have a lot of freedom in this project in terms of the system’s design and the budget, so I’m very excited to see the result of my collaboration with employees and vendors.

This week I worked on a presentation detailing the background and details of Project 2 and sent the presentation to several external manufacturing vendors. The purpose of this presentation is to get the vendor’s feedback on the feasibility of building a prototype together. The plan for next week is to explain collective ideas from me and other team members over a teleconference. During this teleconference we will collaborate with the vendors to make those ideas even better (and hopefully get some in motion!). This type of communication on multiple platforms excites me, and I enjoy the “translation” of this problem and project to different departments of people. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with others to turn ideas into reality, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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