Straining for Relief

As I put fingers to keyboard to write this blog, I’ve recently thrown away my second lightning charging cable since purchasing a new smart device late last year. To say that writing a blog about strain relief was kismet before pitching the cable in the waste can, has to be the understatement of 2017. All of which is a near-perfect segue into the importance of strain relief solutions for plastic tubing assemblies.

If it helps, think of strain relief as a boot or jacket one slips over a delicate plastic tube, increasing its life and mitigating leaks.

In the world of in vitro diagnostics, strain relief solutions relieve tubing of stresses and tensions that may cause the tubing to bend, kink or twist — thereby limiting its inner diameter and impeding fluid flow — which could lead to leaking.

Factors to consider when incorporating strain relief solutions into a design include the size and material of the tubing, the mobility requirement for the tubing, the interaction of the strain relief material with the tubing, and the space available inside the instrument. Standard strain relief options might include springs, spiral wrap, heat shrink or formed plastic sleeves. Another option is to thermoform the entire assembly to avoid unwanted compression.

In addition to limiting leaks, the benefits of strain relief solutions include:

  • Enhancing flex-life performance by limiting over-flexing
  • Preventing kinking
  • Mitigating abrasion
  • Promoting positive fluid flow

For design engineers working on next generation diagnostic instruments, incorporating strain relief solutions early into a design may help one to achieve the accuracy, performance and cost parameters of a project.

Diba delivers exceptional fluidic outcomes across an entire system fluid path. Our proven expertise designing and manufacturing precision fluidic handling systems ensures optimized performance, reliability, and superb field serviceability of instruments in laboratories around the world.

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Every Blood Sample Is A Life

Proprietary Probe Technology Helps Reduce Sample Cross-Contamination

We are often asked about the importance of our proprietary probe technologies that help to minimize cross-contamination from one test sample to the next. Our exclusive probe polishing process reduces ID roughness by a factor of 2 to 4 and improves wash characteristics enabling earlier and more accurate diagnostic testing of serious diseases.

Perhaps a short, memorable example serves best, especially when describing the importance of reducing sample cross-contamination that could potentially lead to an incorrect diagnosis.

Imagine an e-mail intended for your boss is sent to a customer instead. That’s not the desired outcome and is embarrassing to all involved. Hopefully, it is little more than an inconvenience. Similar to the content within the misaddressed e-mail, a patient’s details, their blood sample and their diagnostic blood test must be cleanly handled to achieve an accurate outcome. Thus, preventing diagnostic errors, whether human- or instrument-induced, now becomes a more urgent priority, especially when they could affect your test sample.

The bottom line: Every sample is a life. Treating each and every diagnostic blood sample in that way humanizes each test result. This also helps to better illustrate the importance of limiting cross-contamination through innovative and repeatable proprietary probe technology within diagnostic instruments to improve both sample test accuracy and deliver consistent test outcomes.

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Tubing Material Selection Can Affect Carryover … Big Time

Labs in the United States run seven to ten billion blood tests annually influencing more than 60% of clinical decision making. On any given day, that’s millions of blood samples running through millions of meters of tubing within today’s most technologically advanced diagnostic instruments. With that many chemistry panels being analyzed, there’s bound to be inaccuracies. The key here is to reduce inaccuracies to as close to zero as possible before a test panel is even run, by optimizing flow path management and through superior fluidic solutions. Carryover from one sample to the next is always a risk.

So, what is Carryover?

Carryover is defined as the remnant of a sample left over in the flow path that gets picked up in a subsequent sample. Although there are several system components which can affect carryover – the aspirate/dispense probe and unswept fluid volume readily come to mind – for now we will focus on tubing material selection.

When a fluid traversing the fluid path picks up some volume of a preceding fluid, it becomes diluted; it no longer has the same concentration. This can be problematic when multiple critical fluids travel through one fluid path.  Changes in concentration can lead to false readings and misdiagnosis.

Materials with low surface energy such as PTFE, FEP, PEEK, ETFE, and MFA are used for the flow path in an effort to reduce fluid carryover. If a fluid flowing through a piece of tubing has a higher surface energy than the tubing itself, it will usually stay bound to itself, and not bind to the inner-diameter surface of the tubing.  This reduces the likelihood of carryover, as the next fluid moving down the flow path may not encounter any of the previous fluid to pick up.

Newly marketed diagnostic instruments and their assays are becoming more and more sensitive. This greater sensitivity is likely to require more stringent control of carryover from one sample being tested to the next. Thus, the tubing choices made for today’s more sophisticated diagnostic analyzers are even more critical than in the past.

Forewarned is forearmed. So, understanding what’s involved with carryover at the onset of a design goes a long way to offering a design solution to help OEMs to solve this problem in today’s more sensitive, precise and faster diagnostic instruments.

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A Proud Gen X’er Asks: Are U.S. Millennials Really Impacting Manufacturing and Engineering?

Without a doubt, they are. Not only are millennials making impacts within manufacturing and engineering, they are also impacting healthcare, and IT and myriad other industries.

Although this shouldn’t really be news to any of us by now, this 80 million strong generational cohort is reshaping our society and by consequence, has impacted the American workplace in ways that we couldn’t have imagined even 10 years ago.

As a guy born in the 1960s (thankfully, my children are still young enough in age and aren’t yet calling me “old man”… yet), I’ve been interested in better understanding the experiences of engineering and manufacturing managers about how this group might be changing the workplace, what they really want from employers and how both may find mutual success.

In case you’ve forgotten, millennials can be broadly defined as follows:

  • born from 1980 to 2000
  • they spend $600 billion annually
  • put off big ticket purchases (such as cars, homes, etc.) until later in life
  • are totally digital

According to an opinion piece penned by Gallup’s CEO Jim Clifton in the May 11, 2016 blog, “Millennials: How They Live and Work”, if you can implement the right organizational changes in the workplace, you can truly make a difference at your company for the long term, regardless of business or vertical.

After reading the Gallup blog, I queried a couple of social media groups dedicated to engineering asking them to share some of their workplace interactions with their millennial colleagues. Although no one that wrote me back would agree to go on the record about their experiences with millennials at their company, I did learn a few things that I gladly share below.

  • Engagement — Keep millennials engaged and let them know where they stand at work and how they contribute to your department and company goals. Shoot straight with them and you’ll gain their respect. This is a good formula for working with any employee, but millennials especially expect this approach.
  • Mentoring — Although dependent on the resources available at your company, one way that your company may find success with this group of younger Americans is to offer a structured mentoring program. Truly, here’s a golden opportunity for senior employees to help better assimilate younger employees more quickly into a company’s culture helping make for a smoother, more successful transition.
  • Development — Millennials seem hungry for personal and professional development opportunities in the workplace, and they want to make a difference in the world. Report after report and survey after survey support the point that millennials wish to be part of something that has meaning for them at work.
  • Energy and Perspective – In turn for this investment of development and mentoring, Millennials will bring fresh eyes to the challenges and opportunities in your business. This is especially true for digital growth initiatives. And once engaged, they will jump in with enthusiasm that might cause you to question your own level of commitment.

Although we may not relish talking about it out loud — I certainly don’t — we are all getting older. And, we all have our preferences, values and biases shaped from a lifetime of experiences, failures and accomplishments that make up who we are as people. It is up to us to offer a welcoming approach to development and learning for our younger colleagues. Additionally, as the current “stewards of the American business experience” it is up to us to lend a hand to maximize their workplace experience.

It’s been said that each successive generation eventually leads the one before it. So look for ways to build bridges to the millennials in your workplace. Find out what is important to them, and help them achieve their goals.  You might be pleasantly surprised by the energizing impact this will bring to your own work life.

What are your workplace experiences with millennials? And are they making an impact at your company? How are they improving your engineering team?

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Thermoformed Tubing Simplifies Routing Within IVD Instruments

Today’s diagnostic machines are doing more and becoming increasingly more sophisticated with each instrument release. Due to ongoing technological advances, the range and complexity of diagnostic tests continues to increase. This has made lab tests more sensitive, precise and fast.

However, these better diagnostic instruments aren’t without a downside. From a design perspective, this downside comes in the form of more hardware and components packed into smaller spaces inside the instruments. This makes the fluid pathways difficult to plumb and a challenge to service.

Tight spaces in analytical instruments can put regular tubing at risk of damage from being pinched or worn prematurely by moving parts. But with a thermoformed tubing solution, solving complex routing in tough-to-reach places inside a diagnostic instrument becomes much simpler.

Thermoforming provides shape to the tubing to keep it intact and out of harm’s way inside the instrument. Thermoforming can prevent kinks and deformations caused by moving gantries, closing doors, and other moving parts. Additionally, thermoforming helps design engineers save space within an instrument as the improved bend radius allows for tighter transitions between fluidic connections and economizes volumetric requirements. Further, thermoformed bends assist speed of assembly and minimize damage during installation while maintaining the circular cross-section of the tube throughout the bend.

More Art Than Science

Thermoformed tubing assemblies from Diba’s engineering team can be custom-designed with precision bends and coils that fit neatly inside an instrument, preventing kinking and improper installation for problem-free processing. These assemblies can be custom-labeled and packaged and come in a variety of tubing materials (FEP, PTFE, PFA, ETFE, PVC, LDPE, PVDF, TPU, and PEEK) to speed instrument build cycle and field service times.

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No Tools. No Guesswork. No Worries. No Kidding.

Diba’s patented Click-N-Seal® fittings are the only multi-use, finger-tight fittings that cannot be over or under-tightened, eliminating the need for guesswork, even within low pressure connections.

The user is able to hand tighten the fittings without tools or guesswork and be confident that the fitting is properly seated, creating a secure seal without damaging the port through over tightening.

Best of all, the fitting can be unscrewed and reused dozens of times and works great in small spaces.

In fact, our versatile range of fittings and terminations allow you to make various types of connections quickly, easily and reliably.

Adopt Click-N-Seal into your tubing assemblies and rest assured you will have secure, leak-free connections every time.

Diba is Fluid Intelligence!

California Or Bust!

Diba Industries is packing its bags and heading cross-country to Anaheim for the annual MD&M West exhibition taking place February 7-9, 2017, at the Anaheim Convention Center.  Be sure to stop by booth #1993 and check out Diba’s HydroPLUS™ level sensor demonstration.

HydroPLUS™ offers continuous level sensing for non-volatile fluids in any vessel shape.  The sensor features integrated electronics and is compatible with existing containers.  HydroPLUS™ has zero moving parts, does not read foam, and works with collapsible containers.

In addition, visitors can see examples of Diba’s custom capabilities for probes, manifolds, tubing assemblies and fluid heaters.

So, cruise on over to booth #1993 and say hello to Diba Industries!

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Reduce The Internal Surface Roughness Of A Probe With DP3®

Newly marketed diagnostic instruments and their assays are becoming more and more sensitive. This greater sensitivity is likely to require more stringent control of carryover from one sample being tested to the next. Thus, a probe’s internal diameter (ID) surface finish now plays a greater role in the ability of the instrument to accurately analyze and diagnose the presence of infections and disease.

It’s these small, hard-to-reach rough areas within a probe’s ID that invite carryover and increasingly become problematic for OEM design teams as previous probe manufacturing technologies are just not up to snuff.

So, where does one turn for an alternative?

Coatings are one approach tried by many instrument designers. But how can you tell if a coating starts to flake off inside the probe?

Enter DP3®
DP3 is Diba’s precision technology that polishes and smooths a probe’s internal surface and reduces surface roughness by up to 75%. This proprietary process improves wash characteristics and creates an extremely durable surface that can enhance the performance of an existing probe design, and unlike coatings, will not flake off over time.

When coupled with Diba’s proprietary probe draw down process to reduce tip ID while maintaining a smooth inner surface, DP3 enables precise dispense and aspirate functions for the most demanding new diagnostic assays.

Diba’s application engineers work closely with our customers’ OEM engineering teams to customize probe design according to the application needs of each instrument. Our customers have verified that this attention to detail can become the deciding difference for sensitive assays, where any minute amount of carryover can become a serious problem.

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Building Better Engineers Through Kung Fu

When I think of all the people I’ve worked with over the past 30+ years in the engineering world,  few have had more of a profound impact on me than one particular supervisor I worked for several years ago.

When something went wrong, for which he thought I was responsible, he would call me into his office. Rarely, if ever, raising his voice above conversational level, but with surgical precision bordering on the uncanny, he would choose just the right words to verbally slice me into tiny ribbons.  Sometimes, I even thought he was going to fire me!  I would leave his office, head down, dejected and angry about being treated unfairly. He was not the easiest guy to deal with.

One day he called me into his office. As I walked inside, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Oh great! What did I do now?” But, after I sat down, he began to tell me instead about his Kung Fu training, which began for him as a young man. He even explained to me about the origins of this martial art as well as its philosophies and techniques.  After our “meeting,” I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, that was weird, but really cool!”  I also found it very interesting.  About once a week after that, my boss would call me into his office and he would tell me more about Kung Fu, then send me back to work.

Meanwhile, whenever something “bad” happened, he would continue to call me into his office for those verbal “dismantlings,” that were still extremely unpleasant. And, I would feel angry inside as I did before.  But, once he said what he had to say, his demeanor would change, and he would give me some business advice, and begin again talking about Kung Fu, explaining more about its history, its philosophy and even more about the discipline itself.  By the time I walked out of there, my inner anger had been replaced by a sense of harmony. It was as though he and I were on the same page.  I also felt an inexplicable sense of confidence.


Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting

One particular session that stands out to me to this day, occurred when my supervisor told me about how Kung Fu masters would often be very tough on their students. But, this mode of training was important as it taught the student how to stay calm, to make the right decisions, and to do things the right way.

“If you were my Kung Fu student, and I taught you how to correctly block a punch, and you didn’t do exactly as I’d taught, you would get hit,” he said. “Well, it’s the same way in your professional life!  If I teach you how to handle a situation and you don’t do it the way I’ve taught you, then you will fail.”

At that moment, the light bulb came on! I said to him, “So, you’re using the principles of Kung Fu to mold me into a better engineer?”  “Kevin, he said, I believe that you have potential and I’m trying to bring that out.  When I call you into my office and give you a hard time about something, I am purposely tearing you down.  But, then I’m rebuilding you into the person I know you can be!”

Through my time with that company, this boss continued to alternate between being tough on me, talking about business, and Kung Fu. At times, I still felt like he was being unreasonable and unfair.  But, instead of being angry, I was now smiling, because I understood that, although a bit unconventional, this was his way to help me grow.  And that experience has had a transformational effect on my career.

Wax on.  Wax off.

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