MEDTRONIC SURGICAL INNOVATIONS & CU BOULDER

Developing the physical blueprint for a surgical device, from initial design research and iterative prototyping, to manufacture and assembly, with the goal of improving the user experience for surgeons and enabling a quicker recovery for patients.

 As part of the graduate design program at CU Boulder, our team of four was hired by Medtronic Surgical Innovations to develop and test a new surgical device to improve the user experience for surgeons conducting a specific operation and enable a quicker recovery for patients undergoing the operation.

Note: Because this project is proprietary (patent pending), limited details about the specific surgical setting and the product itself can be shared. 

  • Design research

  • Concept generation

  • Mechanism ideation

  • Synthesizing and interpreting ideas of self and team members (able to improve clarity and effectiveness of discussions through quick sketching and drawing skills)

  • Contributions to CAD models

  • Design for manufacture and assembly

  • Prototype manufacture and assembly (3D printer, machine shop)

  • Ownership of development of test plan and experimental set-up

  • Experimental trials, analysis, and write-up

  • user insights

  • competitive analysis

  • concept generation

  • drawing and sketching

  • computer-aided design

  • rapid prototyping

  • design of experiments

  • technical and informal writing

  • formal presentation

2 WEEKS

UNDERSTAND CHALLENGES AND OBJECTIVES

At the outset of our project, our team met with the Product Development team at Medtronic to gain an in-depth understanding of the objectives and challenges they foresee in tackling this project. Throughout the year, we met with a liason/mentor from this team.

1 MONTH

 

observation

literature review

competitive analysis

INITIAL DESIGN RESEARCH

The team needed to thoroughly understand the design goal by observing the surgical setting and exploring the current solutions. How do surgeons use the current tool? What are the end goals of the user? What challenges does this surgical setting present? What is the form and function of tools in the same market space?

3 WEEKS

 

ideation

sketching

group brainstorming

CONCEPT GENERATION

Through individual and group brainstorming, discussing and sketching, we defined a number of configurations and mechanical methods that had potential to increase the intuitive nature of the surgeon-tool interface and increase the efficiency of the process.

1 MONTH

 

rapid prototyping: 

on-hand materials

 

design of experimental set-up 

CRAFT LOW-FIDELITY PHYSICAL PROTOTYPES

We translated these ideas into prototypes made of cardboard, plastic, PVC, wood, and whatever else we had on hand so that we could test the ergonomic and mechanical concepts for a low time and effort cost.

1 MONTH

 

rapid prototyping: 

CAD models and 3D printing

PROTOTYPE USING COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN AND 3D PRINTING

A general system architecture was determined based on the most effective solutions found in early prototyping. The team refined this into a more polished interactive CAD model. Principles of design for manufacturing and assembly were used throughout the process to lower cost down the road and ensure it could be produced using standard machining methods.

1 MONTH

 

literature review

 

design of experiment and set-up

DESIGN OF EXPERIMENTAL SET-UP

An experimental set-up was developed to enable usability testing and functional testing of the tool. This included mimicking the surgical setting, human tissue (yuck), the precise angle of the device, and other working aspects of the system.

2 MONTHS

 

rapid prototyping: 

CAD models and 3D printing

refining experimental setup

ITERATIVE TESTING CYCLE

We fabricated and assembled our device, tested it in our "surgical setting," then made adjustments to the CAD model and the prototype to improve it. Then we did it again. And again.

1 MONTH

 

final testing

writing report

presentation to stakeholders

SYNTHESIZE RESULTS

A final prototype was machined, assembled, and handed back to Medtronic, along with our designs, analysis, and recommendations for further improvements.

Functional prototype of a novel, ergonomic device able to be manufactured and assembled using standard processes. Presentation to stakeholders.

Patent pending.

Thanks to our sponsors at Medtronic, the Colorado Design Center, and teammates Chip Bollendonk, Scott Oubre, and Katie Thompson for their creative collaboration on this project.

DESIGN RESEARCHER AND STRATEGIST
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