Project - Design of an ergonomic housing for an auto-injector syringe. The syringe would deliver a daily dose of a new rheumatoid arthritis drug, but patients with arthritis often suffer from pain and limited use of their hands. We designed a new housing that made the experience more comfortable in several ways.
Product /service - New housing for auto-injector syringe. More comfortable for patients to use. Able to be used even when symptoms are severe. 
Duration - 3 months
Team - 3 x product designers, prototyper
Activities - Personas and journey mapping, competitor review, product design - sketching, 3D CAD, prototyping, ergonomic testing
Deliverables - Manufacture-ready 3D CAD files and working prototypes
Outcome - New design not yet taken to manufacture - drug has yet to make it to market.

A client stakeholder workshop involved co-creating user personas, a journey map and setting project goals and restrictions. The team conducted desk research to identify competitors and market innovations, and reviewed them with the client, using feedback to help determine direction for concept ideation. We also all used the existing product to 'inject' ourselves using a skin substitute foam, so we could experience how it felt first-hand.

The design team created dozens of concepts via sketches and created quick foam models to help test ergonomic ideas, testing them with colleagues around the company for fast feedback.

Sketch concepts. After ideation, the design team presented 14 concepts for the device and 2 for secondary packaging. Concepts ranged from straightforward clamshell enclosures, to ideas including innovative materials, re-useable devices and electronic indicators, all targeted at known user pain points from the journey.

Together with the client, the team scored and ranked each concept in terms of user value, expected cost and challenges to implement,
such as manufacturing or regulatory activities. Six were shortlisted for development and user testing.

We advanced the six selected concepts, building foam models to be used for testing purposes, and determining details such as likely materials, button placements and space required to house the mechanism. We also created sketch storyboards to explain each concept to users. Additionally, a set of simple models were made to evaluate different grip materials such as rubber and neoprene.The intention was to assess the concepts in terms of overall handling performance, size and potential appeal to moderate or severe patients.

Over several days, we conducted interviews with moderate and severe patients, carers, nurses and asthma patients. Participants were asked about their lifestyle, symptoms and experience with self-injection. They handled and discussed block models as well as grip material samples, before offering their reactions to the potential look of the products using a series of visual mood-boards.

Two concepts were selected for further development after user testing. We refined the designs further, detailing them in Solidworks 3D CAD. Along the way, we used in-house 3D printing facilities to quickly create physical models from CAD data, and check designs iteratively for comfort, as well as functions such as button resistance and skin pinching. The final CAD files were manufacture-ready, but we also handed over to the prototyping team to create working models.

Kinneir Dufort used a range of model-making techniques to build the prototypes. Parts were ‘Projet’ 3D printed from the design team’s CAD data, or machined on the lathe. All parts were hand-finished to ensure best fit and surface finish. Where transparent and soft materials were needed, the team used vacuum-casting from silicone tools to produce parts that look and feel almost like a mass produced product would. We also made custom springs to ensure the button mechanism has just the right travel and resistance.

The design team also contributed ideas for labelling. The drug would be available in three strengths, communicated by injector colour. The dosage and usage instructions were included on the labels.

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