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Early-stage proof of concept designs – Visual Systems Healthcare

Visual Systems Healthcare is a rural-based manufacturer of visual communication tools within the health sector. The company has been supplying a range of products to the health and wellbeing sectors for over 40 years, including its flagship Patient Record Holder, which has been used in hospitals across the UK for 25 years. The 3M BIC was approached to provide early-stage design consultancy and prototyping to kickstart the product development journey to develop a more contemporary, sustainable and cost-effective record holder.

Challenge

Visual Systems Healthcare approached the 3M BIC with an early-stage brief to design, develop and visualise the next generation of its Patient Record Holder. Key points of development were to future proof the design and make it more flexible, durable, sustainable and user friendly. The new iteration needed to encompass modern materials and a production process that were easily accessible, sustainable and cost effective, with enough updated features and elements for hospitals to see the benefit of investing in the new product.

Solution

The company worked with the Leeds City Region [LEP] Manufacturing Champions programme and the 3M BIC’s design team to enhance the existing design and specifications of the product.  Conceptual CAD designs, modelling and visualisation software were used alongside additive manufacturing technology to produce iterations and designs of the potential new holder. Proof-of-concept prototypes were then 3D printed in Nylon PA2200 material on the EOS machine, a process called Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), creating a fast, physical prototype that the client could take away for further testing and development.

 

Outcome

The early-stage proof of concept designs created by the 3M BIC were used to springboard the next stage of the project following the pandemic. Visual Systems Healthcare showcased these concept designs before tendering a range of external product designers to deliver the ultimate stage of the process that would build on previous iterations and led to the final product with additional post-testing design additions and features.

The final design of the Patient Record Holder, being manufactured by a local injection moulding firm, has a patented detachable hook, is made from a material that is both durable and recyclable, plus has an antimicrobial surface finish, essential in today’s healthcare environments. The design also reflects the use of electronic devices and can hold tablets. In addition, the new manufacturing process enables different colourways and bespoke branding on clients’ request.

The new product was released in 2023, which marks 25 years since the company launched its first patient record holder. To date, 1,135 holders have been sold and are now supplied to 22 hospitals in the UK.

The company has ambitious plans to roll out the folders to other industries, as well as break into digital product development, working with the University of Huddersfield around digital training, and creating an app that will help improve the patient’s journey and experience.

 

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What the Client Said...

Working with the 3M BIC and the University of Huddersfield was a rewarding and very interesting experience. They took my early concept ideas and designs, fine-tuned and enhanced them and translated a vision into a 3d working reality. The support received from the team was exceptional and enabled the business to clearly identify its next steps.”

Chris Hunter
CEO, Visual Systems Healthcare

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