Final year project
NecSplint vacuum collar [Read more]
NecSplint - vacuum collar
The collar, made out of a flexible rubber, acts as a vessel for thousands of polystyrene beads. In its free-form state, the collar can be manipulated around the patient's neck in the position they have come to rest after a road traffic collision, without a Paramedic first having to move them into a neutral alignment.
NecSplint - vacuum collar
The nozzle on the vacuum hose magnetically attaches to one of the valves found on either side of the collar. The pump is then activated using the controls found on the flange of the collar - as the air is extracted, the polystyrene beads are forced together, turning the collar rigid, which helps to support the patient in place.
NecSplint - vacuum collar
Valves found on either side of the collar allow the Paramedic to attach the vacuum hose easily, whether they can access the patient from either the left or right. Their bright orange appearance highlights their location to Paramedics in dark environments. The form of the NecSplint vacuum collar is much less intimidating than current designs, which helps to calm a patient whilst it's being applied.
NecSplint - vacuum pump
The vacuum pump unit is to be worn on the Paramedics belt, freeing up their hands to position the collar once the nozzle is connected. The vacuum hose is stored internally via a cable retraction mechanism, so that once the air is extracted from the collar, the hose can be returned and both the Paramedic's hands are free to deal with the patient.
NecSplint - mould tools
In order to prototype the vacuum collar, mould tools were required to produce the two halves that would later be bonded together. These were produced out of a Polyurethane tooling board, milled on a multi-axis router. Toolpath programs were generated, taking advantage of 3D milling operations to ensure a high-quality finish requiring minimal post-processing.
NecSplint - injection casting
After the tools were sealed and a chemical release agent applied, Polyurethane resin was mixed up with the desired pigment before being degassed using a homemade vacuum chamber. This was then injected into the sealed mould tools to ensure complete filling of the cavity. This process took a large amount of trial and error as the casting of flexible resins was a complete unknown to me before this project began, and without the use of proper facilities and the assistance of staff, the difficulty was amplified in order to achieve successful parts.
NecSplint - vacuum pump exploded
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the associated adjustment of project timescales, I could no longer produce a physical visual prototype of the vacuum pump unit. I did however produce a functional electrical prototype, and I further developed the 3D CAD to show how all of the components would fit within the outer casing.
NecSplint - prototype evaluation
Thorough testing of each of my prototype elements was conducted, helping to identify the areas that worked and those that would require further development if the project were to continue. A video documenting the development and testing of the various prototype elements can be found in the external links section.
Patients who suffer a traumatic injury will often have a cervical spine collar fitted to immobilise them and help prevent further damage to the spinal cord until they can be properly assessed at hospital. Contemporary collars are criticised by both patients and healthcare practitioners alike due to their detrimental effects on health and well-being. It is because of these that they are currently being phased out of use across the UK.
In my career, I want to design products that have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. Products that either help them achieve a goal or have a lasting impact on their day to day life.
The inspiration behind the NecSplint vacuum collar came from a conversation with a Paramedic Science student, who highlighted to me how existing cervical spine collars are the most heavily criticised piece of equipment by patients. Further research only consolidated this and highlighted to me the issues beyond patient comfort, including health detriments and their poor sustainability factor. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to introduce something that would improve the experience for both the patient and Paramedic alike.
With a keen interest in understanding the problem, and with my improved communication skills developed whilst on placement, I was able to undertake a thorough research investigation long before the commencement of any design work. By speaking directly with target users - qualified NHS paramedics - I was able to identify their requirements as opposed to following a path of development fuelled only by my own personal analysis.
A keen interest in the production of prototypes in order to evaluate designs spurred me on to produce a version of the collar at home despite the difficulties incurred by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
And with my knowledge of design for manufacture, I was able to approach the design with a true understanding of mass production processes and what can be achieved through each of them, adding a great sense of realism to the project.
Improving the efficacy of cervical spine immobilisation during extrication and transit to hospital
Final year project
NecSplint vacuum collar
'20 Diploma in Professional Studies
'17 UXathon - Best Prototype
This was a one-day UX design event held in collaboration between the Loughborough Design School, Deloitte Digital and Hong Kong University. As a team of 5, we were given 6 hours to develop and design an app for Hong Kong dog owners to keep track of their dog's activities and basic health. An interactive prototype was one of the key deliverables required at the end of the competition, in which we were awarded first place.
At Idea Reality, I was working alongside the Design Director and the rest of the team to help create new product concepts, prototypes and production-ready designs for launch and crowdfunding platforms. This job had me working on every stage of the design process, be it as the first point of contact with clients calling the company to communicate their ideas, all the way up to discussing design tweaks to enable production with manufacturers in China - and every stage of concept design and development in between. This role truly enabled me to build upon almost every skill acquired in the first two years of University, and allowed me to elevate myself to a truly well rounded professional - someone who communicates and works well as part of a team, whilst also having the skills required to carry a project by myself.
Whilst not a full-time role, working with Clean Blue afforded me the opportunity to work on a new and upcoming medical device that is still under development. I was able to produce concept designs, rendered visuals, and offer engineering design advice on the production of prototype and mass production units. I also had the opportunity to attend meetings with a large design consultancy to discuss the project and further its development.
July 2018 - August 2019
Junior Product Designer, Idea Reality
September 2019 - March 2020
Industrial Designer, Clean Blue