My Best Engineering Advice Ever

Life gives us teachable moments on a regular basis. The same may be said about advice, whether given or received.

One piece of sage wisdom given to me way back when, helped me as an engineer and continues to do so even now in my role as Diba’s U.S. National Sales Manager: look to specialists such as Diba Industries, when your project design hits a sticking point or even when you need an additional perspective on a project.

By way of example, discussions I’ve had with engineers designing inline heaters into IVD instruments have revolved around heater performance. Although there are many things to be considered when designing an inline fluid heater, give special consideration to fluid volume, flow rate, size, power, watt density, sensor location and materials. These are just some of the things that can affect the performance of a heater for an IVD application, and are ones that Diba application engineers consider when delivering a custom solution for our customers.

So, take my “best engineering advice ever,” and call on Diba Industries to help you design the ideal fluid handling system to meet the accuracy, performance and cost parameters of your IVD instrument. You might be happy that you did.

What was your best engineering advice you’ve ever given or received? Please share that advice with other readers.

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IVD Market Diagnosis

Diba Industries, Inc. was prominently featured in a recent Medical Product Outsourcing magazine article titled IVD Market Diagnosis. This article succinctly sums up the IVD market and the impact of technology upon it.

Additionally, as the article correctly points out, the IVD market is “… a very dynamic market that is quickly evolving and reacting to market trends, OEM needs, and emerging markets.

 

 

Be Sure. Go Custom.

Design engineers who are tasked with optimizing fluidic flow path performance have important decisions to make when designing for medical, life sciences or diagnostic applications.

Traditional fluidic component options that are available for design engineers may consist of off-the-shelf thermoplastic machined manifolds, standard fittings, tubing assemblies, valves, pumps and filters.

Design engineers must not only select the components to meet their application requirements, they must also consider how the integration of the components are managed for new system production and for serviceability of the system after it has been released to the market.

There is a real benefit for design engineers to explore the use of a custom-designed and thermally bonded fluidic manifold assemblies to achieve their goal of optimizing fluid paths while also providing a serviceable solution that will allow easy access to fluidic interfaces and components.

For example, a custom ULTEM- or PMMA-bonded manifold assembly can perform as the system’s ‘Fluidic Hub’ for virtually all critical fluidic system interfaces. A well-designed manifold assembly will include direct connection points for valves, pumps, regulators and sensors used for fluid control and measurement.  As the total number of connection points is reduced, space and weight considerations can be also reduced – typically by 50% or more using this design approach.

On the other hand, the use of standard off-the-shelf components will often result in system design limitations and other undesirable fluidic-related characteristics, such as additional connection points, excess dead volume and potential sample carry-over contamination.

For design engineers working on next generation medical or diagnostics applications, partnering with a company that has expertise in the design and manufacture of thermally-bonded manifold assemblies is an important step in the right direction. This approach will help them ensure their project goals of optimized performance and superb field serviceability are achieved.

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The Early Bird Gets The Worm Project

The Importance of Early Involvement in a Project’s Design

When designing an In-Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) system, the level of regulations to which the machines are subject are high (i.e., FDA and/or EU approvals). For this reason, these systems go through extended periods of testing in which the form, fit and function of all components are critical to its overall operation. Having a technology partner that is engaged early in the project’s design is key to its long term success.

Once the machines are tested and released into production, the probability for any changes taking place, such as tubing sizes, type of connectors or material/resin changes is highly unlikely.

Resources + Time = Money … Lots of Money!

Let’s say that your new instrument has the requisite approvals from the regulators and is released into production. In order to perform any changes (as small as they may be), the machine – or at least the module in which the change is taking place – has to be revalidated and tested. The revalidation process is usually quite expensive, and it requires resources to document and test the change as well as time to perform the tests. Depending on their complexity, revalidation may take six months or longer to complete.

As a general rule, an OEM will make a change to a system only if:

  • a recurring quality issue exists,
  • a component becomes obsolete, or
  • cost reduction greater than the cost of validation is possible by making the change.

For these reasons, being in the forefront of the system’s design and development is critical. This will enable the component manufacturer to present the OEM with less expensive, easier to manufacture and better performing solutions.  The OEM’s technical team often has a general view of components, but relies on the supplier’s expertise to provide them with the optimal solution.  This can only be done efficiently if the suppliers have full access and are involved in the design of the system early on.

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When All Else Fails, Listen To Your Customer

At Diba, we strive to be close enough to customers that they will share their fluid handling challenges with us. Here is one such case below.

The Need:
The R&D Engineers at a Diba customer in the business of manufacturing diagnostic test kits for clinical labs asked us to investigate possible improvements in probe manufacturing on their flagship HPLC instrument.

The Customer Challenge:
During periodic instrument refining, this global customer uncovered a potential problem with the piercing probe at the point of sample aspiration on their HPLC instrument. Although the instrument’s probe functioned as required, coring occurred as it pierced the caps of sample test tubes.

The Solution:
Our engineered solution improved the probe by smoothing the finish to the side-hole port without changing the basic design. As a result, this customer was able to reduce coring by more than 50%, reducing the risk of unwarranted service calls or premature probe replacement.

Have you had experiences in your career where listening to customer needs improved a design and added value? How about where you partnered with a customer to create an innovative solution within design fluidics?

Leave a comment and share your thoughts and experiences.

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Wash, Rinse, Repeat Engineering Need Not Apply

Wash, rinse, repeat – once found only on shampoo bottles – has moved into the everyday American lexicon. Now it’s commonly used as a humorous way of saying that instructions should be repeated until a certain goal is reached.

That may be so in everyday life, but that’s no way to engineer a solution for solving any customer’s fluidic challenge.

New assays are being developed that are far more sensitive than the current ones in the market today, enabling test results with ever increasing accuracy. In order to run these new assays on existing or new instruments, OEMs need to reduce sample carryover significantly. The difficulty with doing that in existing instruments is that modifications must be easy to install and fit inside the current machine envelope.

The Need:
One of our global OEM customers asked for Diba’s help designing a retrofit heater for an existing instrument that improved its performance.

The Customer Challenge:
This OEM needed to precisely heat a critical fluid in their existing instrument. Existing instruments pose particular challenges of their own: namely, that any modifications made have to be easy to install and fit inside the current machine envelope.

The Solution:
Our solution involved designing a compact and powerful heater that heated a critical fluid and a custom manifold to handle fluid transfer and mixing.

Have you had engineering experiences during your career where improving a design has added value? Or, how about where you partnered with a customer to create an innovative solution within design fluidics? Leave a comment and share your thoughts and experiences.

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The Devil Is In The Details

An Example Of What To Watch Out For When Designing A Positive Bottom Seal Connection

Design Engineers concentrate on the materials they need to use for the connector and port, ensuring chemical compatibility. They also focus on the size of the connector, making sure that what protrudes out of the port will not interfere with other components.  Oftentimes not enough attention is given to the port and thread depths. Here “the devil is in the details,” and a positive bottom seal connection is dependent upon those details.

First Things First
To begin, ask yourself two crucial things: How deep is the overall depth of the port? And, how deep is the thread on the port?  When tapping (threading) a port, it’s not feasible to have a full thread – as the threading die will not allow it.  However, the thread can’t simply stop at an unspecified depth:  if it’s too shallow the sealing face of the connection (i.e., flare or ferrule) may not reach bottom and result in a leak.

devil-is-in-the-detailsNext, match the depth of the port with the length of the connector on the mating assembly. Take into consideration not only the length of the thread of the connector, but also the boss (unthreaded portion of the fitting) as well as any added component lengths (i.e., washer, o-ring, ferrules, etc.).

A fluidics system’s design must take into account even what may be perceived as an ordinary feature. Many times, fluid line connections mistakenly fall into that category.  And without a properly designed fluidic connection, the system will not operate to its full capacity or worse:  it could leak.

For your design to be successful, pay close attention to the fluid connection details and you might just save you and your design from you know who.

We’d truly enjoy hearing from you! If you have anything to share on Go With The Flow, feel free to drop us a line!

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Diba Bids A Fond Farewell To The City Of Brotherly Love And Looks Forward To San Diego In 2017!

Team Diba thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and catching up with old friends and industry peers at this years’ 68th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo. For the first time ever at AACC, Diba shared booth space with sister Halma companies BioChem Fluidics and Accudynamics. Our newly designed booth served as a perfect backdrop for our team as they interacted with visitors while viewing some of our fluid handling products and learned more about our custom capabilities.

It wasn’t all business though. The Diba Team made some time to catch a ballgame at nearby Citizens Bank Park where they watched the Phillies dismantle the visiting Giants 13 to 8.

How was this years’ AACC Annual Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo for you and your company? Did you uncover new technologies or sit in on an interesting forum discussion? Please share comments about your AACC 2016 experience below.

If you had a chance to chat with anyone on the Diba Team at AACC 2016 and would like us to contact you to follow up, or if you did not have a chance to speak with us and want to get in touch, please click below and we can schedule a meeting.

We’d truly enjoy hearing from you! If you have anything to share on Go With The Flow, feel free to drop us a line!

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Go With The Flow

Announcing the first of our new blog posts from Diba Industries, Inc. Our goal with this blog is to inform, guide, and maybe even entertain our readers about fluidics design, innovation and business-related topics. We are also optimistic that you will share your comments and questions with us on topics that might be of interest to fellow engineers.

So, why call this blog Go With The Flow? Why not! It’s the (fluid) path of least resistance and it’s the easiest thing to do, if you’re fluid that is!

We’d truly enjoy hearing from you! If you have anything to share on Go With The Flow, feel free to drop us a line!

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Diba … Fluid Intelligence!

 

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