We regularly meet scientists or research engineers who are looking for solutions to build pilot equipment or to create custom laboratory equipment to test an idea.
The first phases of development and creation of a piece of equipment are crucial to steer the project in the right direction. Indeed, during these phases the concept must be validated with real applications. Therefore, the prototype must be sufficiently robust to withstand the conditions of use, especially when using corrosive components, sensitive reagents or working at high temperatures, etc. On the other hand, during this proof-of-concept phase, the prototype must remain modular and open to allow easy modifications.
In order to limit costs and development time, the prototype have to be a fair balance between production speed and the quality required for the application.
To achieve this goal, we combine two approaches:
The first approach consists in working by phases, dividing the project into short objectives focused on precise and critical issues for the final application. When these unknowns are resolved, we can move on to the next question. Thanks to this methodology, inspired by Lean Start-up and Design Thinking methods, we can develop the first prototypes functionalities that are really important in order to limit costs and development time. Indeed, if the solution is not suitable, the project can be stopped early or reoriented with limited costs.
The second approach relies on the rapid development of digital manufacturing technologies (3D printing, laser technologies, etc.) which are becoming increasingly precise with a growing range of accessible materials. Indeed, it is now possible to manufacture complex parts with high precision and in very resistant materials such as PEEK, stainless steel, ceramics, etc. These materials give the possibility to test parts for applications working at high temperatures, using very corrosive compounds or requiring good biocompatibility. For applications requiring micro-scale features, such as microfluidic, innovative micro-manufacturing technologies give the possibility to produce parts with structures of a few tens of microns or to facilitate the integration of sensors.
The very rapid development of these technologies makes possible to rapidly prototype a new piece of equipment, but it also becomes possible to design the equipment for use in production. Indeed, the quality of the parts produced by these new manufacturing technologies makes it possible to consider their use in production. This evolution is crucial because it allows for rapid and less costly scale-up.
Thanks to these combined approaches, we also work on various themes. Read some application examples by following the links below.
- Process up-scaling simplified for Lebsa
- Creation of custom parts for the development of a new production process
- Development of a portable laboratory for the rapid control of a production process