Tech Briefs

Design and development considerations can protect portable devices.

When bringing new medical equipment or portable mobile medical devices to market, manufacturers turn to packaging engineers to develop custom case solutions that can enhance and protect their products.

By partnering with case manufacturers utilizing the latest in 3D CAD technology, packaging engineers have a variety of materials to choose from—including plastic, wood, composite, or aluminum. Additionally, they can choose from a variety of standardized case options or design highly customized cases for today’s state-of- the-art medical devices. Case companies, such as Pelican Products, offer a comprehensive selection of choices to the packaging engineer.

Fig. 1 – Leading case manufacturers utilize the latest in 3D CAD technology to produce customized cases in a variety of materials.

Design Considerations

The process begins with evaluating how a case will be employed. A packaging engineer must analyze the product’s needs and limitations to develop a baseline for the design process. Will the equipment need to withstand extreme temperatures or temperature shock in transit, during operation, or in storage? If the device is used in the field, will it need protection from weather events like rain, snow, and high humidity? Or, will the case and its contents face exposure to corrosive environments such as fog, dust, salt air, and blowing sand?

Shock absorption requirements, vibration dampening, altitude fluxuations, and even anti-fungal properties factor into the environmental specifications affecting the design, engineering, and construction of custom cases for specialized usage.

Ensuring maximum protection, functionality, and durability are also determined based on the equipment’s primary shipping and handling modes. Transport by truck, air, sea, commercial carrier, or simply by hand, coupled with transport frequency, sustainability, and again, environmental factors, are all part of the equation when deciding on a custom case’s construction.

Development Steps

The next phase of development is designing the case’s interior. Foam cushioning material of varying thickness and density is the most commonly used material in providing protection from shock and vibration. Using foam curve charts, packaging engineers can choose the foam thickness to be used based upon the G forces that the equipment is designed to withstand. They look at the G forces exerted on equipment when dropped from specified heights to verify that the equipment doesn’t see any more shock than it is designed to withstand.

When all these factors are determined, the case is now ready for manufacturing. The case’s outer shell can be produced using either rotationally molded (roto-molded) polyethylene, injection molded plastic, plywood laminate, aluminum, or a polypropylene trilaminate, while the interior foam is cut using precision water jet, CNC routers, or die press process before assembly and installation within the case shell.

Lastly, medical device manufacturers have a myriad of customization options that can be added to the case. Rolling casters, lifting rings, locks, RFID/GPS data collection, and communication capabilities along with labeling and a multitude of color choices further enhances the use and transport of their equipment. Roll-in ramps for large and heavy equipment facilitate ease of transport, and can ensure that equipment arrives safely and ready for use wherever it’s needed.

This article was written by Tim Jennings, CEO, Engineered Packaging Solutions, Custom Case Group, San Dimas, CA. For more information, Click Here.