Tradename: Viper
Company: Becton Dickinson
  • When this innovative diagnostic medical device was introduced a number of years ago, it was hailed as a landmark product in the medical industry. Our design team worked closely with BD Diagnostics, a segment of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), to develop this analyzer for detecting in vitro infectious diseases using molecular diagnostic testing. The foundation for this revolutionary concept was based on a patented approach to laboratory automation using an industrial class of robotics known as Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA).

  • This composite of images shows the Viper in different stages of use, from various vantage points and settings. The product has proven to be a classic based on its almost twenty year longevity on the market. The SCARA robotic approach delivers an extremely robust instrument by eliminating all pumps, syringes and reagent tubing, which were the root cause of traditional laboratory equipment regarding maintenance and reliability. The high throughput of the BD Viper System also helps address the critical shortage of technologists in laboratories.

  • Extensive human factors research was invested in this design well before concepts were explored. Our dedication to optimizing man-machine interface contributed to this the Viper’s success. Ease of access to all reagents and samples by the ninety nine percentile of the population was vital for product acceptance and use.

  • Full integration of industrial design and engineering accounted for the exceptional balance of aesthetics and functionality. These interlocking pressure formed covers were designed as a raised surface which would match up with all the sample and reagent modules as well as prevent liquids from dripping onto the lower surface. One of our many design challenges included developing covers which would satisfy our aesthetic requirements while also being easily removed for serviceability.

  • This complex system originated from a partially functional breadboard prototype shown in these photos. The highly accurate, very rapid moving robotic  arm was mounted to a commercially available  steel table. The two gold rails toward the rear served as  “safety curtains” enabling the development team to evaluate different reagent bin designs and placement.

  • A closer look at the preliminary sample and reagent modules as well as the power supply located on the lower deck of the table clearly illustrates the rudimentary level of development from which we began our design. Getting involved at this early stage of development enabled us to influence the overall product embodiment and architecture.

  • After our introduction to the breadboard we began documenting critical design parameters affecting the  product design with notes and sketches. These examples represent a few of the hundreds of sketches we developed during this initial phase of development. Sketches such as these captured  basic major components within the system and illustrated possible product embodiments which helped facilitate our eventual more detailed concepts.

  • Our activities were not restricted to one path of development. We concurrently obtained CAD files from BD’s engineering team who were focused on designing all the internal mechanisms and functional subsystems within the product. This iterative exchange of CAD information provided a constant progression of the product design.

  • These foam core models depict some of the initial exploratory layouts of the work deck based on differing sample/reagent placements. Studies such as this provided us with crucial information related to optimizing the layout based on human factors and robot arm movement. Optimum sample tray placement for a human did not necessarily comply with the coverage of the robot arm.

  • As the design progressed, we added more details to the overall system which included a surrounding enclosure. Since the robot arm had to be isolated from operators for safety purposes, a protective enclosure was required. We subsequently added a representation of an overhanging hood to the model which revealed a potential user problem, diminished lighting. This problem was easily solved by adding a clear window on top of the hood.

  • We concurrently began sketching concepts based on all the design parameters documented throughout the first two phases of  this project. Sketches provide a loose and spontaneous means of capturing ideas which leads to highly creative design solutions.

  • Our concept sketches, 3D CAD layouts and preliminary 3D concepts enabled us to converge on a design which satisfied all the aesthetic, ergonomic, technical and financial requirements related to this product. This rendition was based on a combination of sheet metal and pressure formed plastic, supported by an internal frame.

  • BD’s engineering team continued evolving the design and sharing their updated CAD files with our staff. These images of the internal base chassis and component assembly illustrate an example of the complexity of this system.

  • These detailed CAD images of the external covers and internal support structure were developed by our team based on the CAD files shared by BD. All the parts and sub-assemblies were detailed based on the selected manufacturing process, materials and associated tolerances.

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