Airway Medical is a Bristol-based start-up, established by Simon Hall to bring the Wall-mounted Airway Medical Suction Unit (WAMSU) to market. This patent-pending medical device provides an innovation in equipment used to clear patient airways. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit NHS hospitals, the clinical need for the WAMSU intensified; the Client identified that suction devices were used to help prevent pre-ITU patients from requiring mechanical ventilation. So, fuelled by crowdfunding success, the Client turned to ITERATE to accelerate their product development.
Compared with bulky, over-complicated devices, the WAMSU presents a smaller, simplified solution. The WAMSU connects to compressed air lines (medical air 4 bar) and uses the Venturi Effect to create suction. Its lower price point would enable the allocation of a device per bedside, reducing sterilisation requirements and saving vital NHS resources. The challenge was to progress an early-stage prototype into a scalable, working prototype ready for clinical testing – a critical stage to get the device into hospitals. Racing the tide of rising Covid-19 admissions, speed of delivery was paramount, while precise execution couldn’t be compromised given the application in medical environments.
“Gethin and his team have been excellent designing a reasonably complex medical device during the lockdown for Airway Medical. Without being able to sit round a table and discuss the design, they came up with a way to expedite the project in a timely manner. I’m very pleased with the results and would recommend talking to them if you have a design project in mind.” – Simon Hall, Director at Airway Medical
We used 3D CAD to develop a prototype that considered the user and their specific environment; additions such as a pressure gauge and control features enhanced the product’s functionality and usability. We designed the product to be aesthetically in-line with existing medical devices to promote quick integration into hospitals. To prototype such an intricate design with accuracy, in-house SLA was chosen. SLA technology could precisely print the product’s flowing internal pathways, inlets and holes with a naturally polished finish. The use of translucent material, upon the Client’s request, gave the added bonus of making the internal mechanics visible.
ITERATE quickly executed a high-quality working prototype of a medical device ready for clinical testing, during the first wave of Covid-19. This helped the Client advance their new product with life-saving implications in response to an immediate need within the NHS. Our team’s in-depth understanding of rapid product development enabled us to design a prototype that strategically removed barriers to market entry further down the line. ITERATE’s in-house capability meant the WAMSU could be safely developed for clinical testing despite the adverse conditions of a national lockdown. This project showcases innovation at its finest, reacting urgently to a real-world crisis.