A trio of winners: this year's winners of Product Design and Development's Ninth Annual Engineering Awards produced designs filled with creativity, innovation, and service to society.
Readers of Product Design and Development served as the judges for the awards program, voting for the top three products from 50 finalists featured in the December 2003 issue. Each winner received a custom-designed crystal globe, which symbolizes the role of engineering in improving our world. In addition, a monetary prize was given in the amount of $2,500 for the Gold Award, $1,500 for the Silver Award, and $1,000 for the Bronze Award.
Gold Award Winner
The HealOzone Mark II Dental Device from Micro Motors Inc., Santa Clara, CA, is designed to treat dental caries, which are the beginnings of cavities, with a 10 second application of ozone. With the aid of this product, dentists will no longer have to drill and fill dental caries. The dentist can apply the ozone via a handpiece with a sealing cup attached. The cup works to seal the infected area of the tooth. The exposure of ozone for a time period of 10 seconds can dramatically reduce the micro-organisms in primary root carious lesions.
"We approached this to be very different and bigger than anything we had ever done," says Paul Garcia, project manager at Micro Motors. "There was nothing like this out there. The concept itself was very new."
HealOzone preserves the natural tooth structure. Patients can now spend 10 minutes in the dentist chair--the HealOzone treatment plus a lesson in home care--rather than the hour the drill-and-fill procedure would typically take. The HealOzone treatment consists of 10 seconds of ozone application, 10 seconds of vacuum (to evacuate ozone), and 5 seconds of reductant application.
The HealOzone makes finding the infected area the most involved process. Once the dentist has identified the infected area, he/she simply turns the system on, selects a cup that fits the tooth, presses start on the console, seals the area, and presses the foot pedal to initiate the cycle.
"The biggest was dealing with the ozone itself. Ozone is a toxic gas. If inhaled, be harmful," Garcia says. "Our challenge was to make it safe. We had to get the ozone to the area and out without it being damaging."
The first prototype of HealOzone was ready in slightly more than one month and it proved that the engineers were able to meet their challenges and deliver a design that has the potential to change dental treatments everywhere.
The treatment is painless and there is no residual numbness that is normally associated with conventional methods. The device is engineered to let the body heal itself and to eliminate the risk of further damage to a tooth.
Silver Award Winner
The N-Abler from Reactive Metals, Angleton, TX, is a fully integrated, five-function body-powered prosthetic wrist incorporating wrist rotation (pronate, supronate), flexion, and extension, along with quick-disconnect for terminal devices. This design offers a new level of dexterity to above-the-elbow arm amputees.
"We wanted to design something that would make a difference. And that's what this product does. It has really taken off to a new level," says Johnnie Rouse, president of Reactive Metals.
The prosthetic wrist provides 290 degrees of ball bearing rotation with 14 locking position, and the cable-operated lock allow momentary or alternating function. There is also 50 degrees of flexion with three locking positions and a built-in quick-disconnect wrist unit for changing or repositioning terminal devices. This lightweight product, weighing 185 grams, has consistent spring pressure on rotation and flexion.
The N-Abler provides practitioners in the prosthetic trade a ready-made, out-of-the-box wrist unit, which allows for the fabrication of a prosthetic arm in just hours as opposed to days or even weeks. The doctor can simply laminate the wrist to the distal end of the prosthetic arm and then set up the cable operated locks on the rotation and flexion portion of the wrist. The wrist can also be retrofitted into existing lamination rings, eliminating the need to fabricate new arms.
Bronze Award Winner
The Mini Series Lead Screw from Kerk Motion Products, Hollis, NH, is a component that was specifically designed for use in the Cozmo Pump from Deltec Inc. "The best thing about working on this particular project is that the end result makes a difference to people," says Toni Solon, an applications engineer at Kerk. "This is a very important product."
The Cozmo Pump is a new insulin infusion device that is a lightweight, cell phone-sized apparatus worn by people with diabetes. The pump delivers insulin at regularly scheduled intervals, day and night, through a short, flexible, plastic tube inserted just under the skin.
Speaking about the relationship between Kerk and Deltec, Solon says the partnership is part of what made the project a success. "The supplier was involved early in the process. The trust has to be there between the customer and the supplier. We take that trust very seriously," he says. "It was as if the company was saying, 'What's the best you can do?' and we were saying, 'I don't know, let's try it.' The relationship was great. It allowed us to experiment."
The lead screw used in the pump compresses the syringe to inject the insulin. The lead screw pushes down on the drive rod, which is actually a complex machined plastic plunger. The unit incorporates threads working with the screw to set in motion the pump's inner lock mechanism, which uses a quarter-turn thread to engage the disposable insulin syringes. The entire mechanism is driven by a small motor that rotates the lead screw, which is positioned parallel to the motor.
The nut is made from Kerk's self-lubricating acetal plastic through a precision CNC screw machining process. The screw incorporates Kerk's TFE coating, a formulation that increases lubricity and typically extends the normal nut life. Threads in the nut are custom made for the Deltec Cozmo Pump.
The product assembly is designed to replace the human element, and therefore the risk of error, in administering insulin. The precision fit of the lead screw and nut ensure a proper administration and also create a sealing feature that helps maintain a strict separation between the medication and the pump parts.
The runners-up for this year's engineering awards are as follows:
* The fourth runner-up is TracVision A5 TV antenna from KVH Industries Inc., Middletown, RI.
* The ProtoKey Rapid Prototyping Service from Datakey Electronics Inc., Burnsville, MN, placed fifth.
* Adventure Ambulatory Aid Tip crutch/cane tip from Keen Mobility, Portland, OR, took the Number 6 spot.
* In seventh place is the Aberdeen HI-Arc Pulldown Kitchen Faucet from Moen Inc., North Olmsted, OH.
* The Cure, an LED handpiece used by dentists, from Spring Health Products, Norristown, PA, is the eighth runner-up.
* The ninth runner-up is Miller Fall Protection, Franklin, PA, for its fall protection system, the Miller Edge.
* ThinGap Motor Technologies Inc., Ventura, CA, is the 10th runner-up for its TG3300 Series Brush DC Motor.