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Turning an idea into a viable prototype

12 November 2019

Developing a brilliant idea into a commercial reality has many stages and sometimes several partners. When working collaboratively on a product design project where there are so many interested parties, it can be hard for all the collective ideas to find their way into the finished product.    

Harnessing everyone’s ideas

In the case of a joint project GX worked on with fellow MediWales member, Microchip Technology through its Microsemi subsidiary, the two Welsh based companies worked with several European partners. They and six other organisations were part of a research project to develop a wearable medical device using blue light to heal chronic wounds.  It is estimated that over 40 million patients suffer from a chronic wound throughout Europe, costing approximately 40 billion Euros annually.   

Bringing the idea to life

As a result of their collaboration, the prototypes that GX produced was as close to the finished product as possible.

Recalling the highs and lows of the project, design director, Gary Ross commented, “For a design engineering consultancy like GX, creating a working prototype can be one of the more enjoyable aspects of product development. It is a chance to see if an idea could become a commercial reality.    

We are used to incorporating everyone’s suggestions and working with several partners. In the case of this project there were a number of interested parties and initially only an artist’s conceptual impression of how the finished product should look. What’s more, whilst we and Microchip were based locally, one of the partners developing certain electronic aspects was based in Cyprus! Projects like these demand a high degree of good communications and most of all, flexibility!”

Overcoming design challenges

GX was invited to become part of this pan-European project by specialist semiconductor company, Microchip. With their reputation for developing miniaturised medical products, Microchip was approached by the collective to provide the electronics to create the blue light. Having devised a miniaturised PCBA, Microchip asked the design team at GX to design a plastic housing for it. Designing a reliable and IP rated connector system for the plug-in flexible PCB’s that carry the LEDs was a major challenge that GX successfully solved.  

“Microchip was involved first,” notes Rhys Waite their business and technology development manager, “Our role was to industrialise the product, take the initial design concept and outline a plan to develop an early stage prototype. Having developed a PCBA (Printed Circuit Board Assembly) we enlisted GX’s design team to design a bespoke enclosure. Since the concept was based around a handheld device, we asked them to develop a durable, yet flexible casing.  Their design team worked closely with us to ensure our components fitted within their proposed design.

“The finished result was a significant number of highly acclaimed working prototypes which were as close to the finished product as they could be.”

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