As developers of medical devices, it’s our job to focus on the details required to take a design from concept to clinical readiness. There is a tremendous amount of work involved in conceptualizing, prototyping, verifying, validating, and obtaining FDA approval for a new medical device. That’s why it was interesting to attend a talk recently by the engaging and charismatic Dr. Bon Ku from Thomas Jefferson University, hosted by Colorado College’s Creativity and Innovation center. Dr. Ku is an emergency medicine physician currently on the front lines in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the director of the Health Design Lab, which offers both medical students and industrial design students an environment for collaborating when tackling human-centered healthcare challenges.
The Decision to Move
Zewski Corp. is located in Texas and I live in Colorado, so I was already working from home when COVID-19 hit, but as early news of shutdowns across the country rolled in, our owners decided to move all of the employees home to work remotely while they worked in the office, along with their three kids whose schools are shut down. Since we work in medical devices our company is considered “essential”, and due to the work at home restructure, we are keeping things moving along as normal – in fact, our customers are seeing no change in how we meet their deadlines on internal activities. I thought that nothing would change for me because I’ve been working from home all along, but things are not quite the same these days . . .
Santa Clarita, California home to two amazing places, The Carousel Ranch, an equestrian center dedicated to improving the lives of children and young adults with special needs. And Neotech Products LLC, a business who for the last 32 years has been developing products to improve the chance for normal life for the smallest and weakest babies in the world.
We know that you depend on Zewski Corporation for your design needs as we face this outbreak, especially while we develop the design solutions conceived by our clients, in the effort to aid the medical industry struggling today. As we monitor the rapidly changing COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, we are taking steps to prioritize the health and safety of our employees and community while ensuring business continuity to minimize disruptions for your medical device design needs.
As a design and development company focused on solving mechanical design problems related to the development of medical devices for manufacturers and startups alike, and in business for over 16 years, we have built a team from the ground up working closely with clinical inventors and medical device companies to make our mark on improving the healthcare industry and to develop devices to prolong and improve our lives. Although Zewski has a record for delivering finished devices in both medical and commercial markets, as well as for providing specialized services, our unique skill-set has been solving specific problems our medical clients are faced with during the development of new technology.
Located in Houston Texas, home of the world’s largest medical center (TMC), our company has formed relationships with clinicians throughout the country, in no small part due to Zewski’s long term partnership with client Neotech Products LLC, a company specializing in neonatal healthcare devices. In our work, it has become all too obvious that one common challenge for clinical inventors is a lack of funding - and for us, a challenge was that we were only in the mechanical realm. Although the business was built from referral to referral and is still growing in that way, the funding issue was always a development barrier, and the electro-mechanical issue was always a technological barrier.
“A common practice among engineers is to put together a prototype of an assembly with every part very close to the nominal or intended measured characteristic. The test may go off well. The problem is that when the assembly goes into production, all characteristics will vary.” W.E. Deming, American engineer and statistician who championed statistical process control.
I had the privilege of traveling to New Orleans, Louisiana for the International Respiratory Convention and Exhibition (also known as AARC Congress). My main purpose of traveling to the show was to support one of our key customers, Neotech Products. Neotech’s booth showcased products that we have helped design and develop. The show floor was filled with big name companies such as Fisher & Paykel and Phillips that develop sophisticated respiratory care equipment. However, my biggest takeaway from the show is that it’s not always the fanciest product that steals the show. As I watched people trickle in through the doors of Hall H at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, I wondered how many would visit the Neotech booth. After all, they don’t make fancy machines that beep and light up, they specialize in neonatal and pediatric disposable products. Throughout the show I saw people try to make sense of the new ‘top-of-the-line’ respirator with added functions. Sure, the visitors were impressed, but never did I see the type of reactions I witnessed at the Neotech booth. You see, Neotech was showcasing a new disposable product, a monkey. The NeoHug.
As a mechanical and biomedical engineer, I’ve had the opportunity to work in a number of interesting fields, from the lightning protection industry to the tissue heart valve industry. Each position I’ve held has provided unique technical challenges and lessons, but there are also common threads running throughout each experience which, combined, tell a bigger story about working as an engineer across multiple industries.
Having had an opportunity to work on research and development engineering teams for products such as medication infusion sets, tissue heart valves, and neonatal medical equipment, I’ve been able to observe the medical device design process from multiple angles. The design process starts with a medical need, such as a way to deliver medication subcutaneously to a patient safely, painlessly, and reliably.
Technology and the medical world are intrinsically linked, as we rely on specialized devices to diagnose and treat a range of illnesses and medical conditions. Several new advances have entered the field in recent months, and these devices and instruments will be able to save people's lives while improving the overall quality of care.
Understanding The Challenges
We all understand that bringing a product to market requires risk in investment, time and exposure. But the risk increases even more if you don’t find the right design and manufacturing partners to help you. Strange as it may seem, most of our 250 or so inventor customers in the last 15 years have not called us direct, but rather were referred to us from our manufacturing partners. I guess the question is, why wouldn’t they call a designer first? The reason is simple, but not obvious. When inventors are looking to make an idea, they call the person they think will be making it. It is the natural path of least resistance, so it seems.
One thing I have learned over the years in business is that in order to grow you have to keep up with the changing world of marketing. When I started my business 16 years ago, there were no smart phones, websites were electronic business cards and Facebook was a place to play Farmville - business was primarily conducted by phone. Today we employ inbound marketing techniques that drive people to our site and an algorithm-based software to track and sort leads. So out with the old and in with the new? Well, not exactly. It's more like add the new to what always worked...and that's face-to-face meetings and networking.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) refers to the use of software to automate the process of creating, manipulating, analyzing and optimizing a design. SolidWorks (a Dassault Systèmes product) software is used to create virtual 3D models and 2D drawings. 3D models are normally used in prototyping or manufacturing processes such as 3D printing or mold making as well as digital applications including video animations. On the other hand, 2D drawings are used in defining the technical engineering aspect of a design such as dimensions and material specifications.
Currently in its 10th season, Shark Tank gives entrepreneurs and inventors a chance pitch their products or idea to a panel of 5 investors (sharks) which includes Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary and Lori Greiner, among others. While some entrepreneurs and inventors are new entrants, others are startups that have been in the field for quite some time but are unable to meet the financial demand for costs such as manufacturing, shipping, and so on. Some products were an epic fail while others have gone on to become quite successful.
Spending my life in the business of product design, I often don’t get the time to talk about the steps that take place after the design is completed. Many of our clients, particularly the inventors, don’t want us focusing on that aspect of their projects. Unfortunately though, this is the place where most projects die due to lack of planning. Statistically, only 1 of 10 projects we work on makes it into production, despite the fact that clients leave our offices with a fully functional prototype.
Choosing the right product design software can be a daunting task if you are inventor and looking to design your own products. You want to choose software that matches your skill level while still providing you with the tools that you will need to complete your projects. With the right software, you will be able to generate a precision 3D renderings of parts, assemblies and components. To help you choose the best software for your project, check out our list below of five options for product-design software for the inventor, that have relatively low entry cost and powerful tools.
Medical devices are vital to the diagnosis and monitoring of patients. They come in all formats, from simplistic like a tongue depressor to more comprehensive such as an MRI machine. As technology continues to advance, so do the devices that healthcare professionals use in the care of their patients. What are the most innovative tools to enter the medical marketplace in the last century?
Human inventions have fueled the world since the first cave person lit the first fire. With each century, new designs create standards for generations to come. Hundreds of thousands of inventors file patents each year hoping one of their creations will be the new life-changing product, but which ones made a difference? Consider five inventions that changed everything.
January 8th, 2019 marked Zewski Corporation's 15th year in business. Technically, Zewski Corporation is only 11 years old, but the idea for the company and the start of what today is Zewski Corporation began on January 8th, 2004, when I left my job as a Product Engineer II at Medtronic MiniMed and formed Zewski Visual, a DBA with the intent to bridge the gap between marketing and engineering for companies everywhere.
This post outlines the history of the business, the chronicle of growth and the reason for our crazy slogan.
A patent is an important tool in any inventor’s life. It allows you to protect your idea from anyone else’s use and profit. Though the process is rather complex, there are a variety of benefits to filing a patent. It starts with completing a patent application, a document that provides details into what you are trying to develop. That application is the first step in protecting your right to property. It helps stop others from making what you hope to produce while also protecting your from others selling, using or importing the invention.
Product design is a term used to describe the process of taking an idea, one that has been identified as having a market opportunity, then developing it into a viable solution. Product design is not just about the tangible, though. It is also the process of determining what problem exists, developing a solution for that problem, and then validating that solution with third-party or real users. Because of the complexities of the process, it tends to be a task best left to those who have ample experience.
Automation is not about giving machines more power and capabilities to fund Skynet (from Terminator), rather it's about giving man more time to innovate by taking over tasks that would otherwise be too time consuming. However, that doesn’t mean that people are no longer needed. It is very typical for people to associate the word ‘automation’ with layoffs because they feel that they would no longer be needed. On the contrary, it means that those people would no longer have to spend long periods of time doing menial tasks and can instead focus on tackling other challenges that would help their company grow. You could say that the need to automate is a good problem to have.
In September this year, I had the privilege of visiting the NICU of Seattle Children’s Hospital where I met with Rob DiBlasi, Manager Respiratory Care, Research and Quality Improvement, and his staff. The goal of my visit was to get first-hand insight from the clinicians on the challenges concerning ET tube extubations during intubation.
Every year I attend a 2-day conference in Houston where clinicians from around the country fly in to discuss this exact goal - designing for the source. With 400 years of experience in one room, these experts in Neonatal care from Dartmouth, Seattle Children's, USC, Memorial Hermann, Texas Children’s and other hospitals and health care centers, gather for two days. The goal is to not only save but enhance the lives of those born before they are ready for this world.
Welcome to our new offices. We moved last month and now have a beautiful new design space! Our new space includes seven offices, a new multimedia conference room, 2 kitchens and a welcome area for our guests.
In addition, we have more than 1,000 square-feet dedicated for our testing lab, prototype lab, and a 3D printer lab.
Cardionics introduces the SimSuit, a Hybrid Simulation Solution for Standard Patient Assessment. Featuring simulation of heart rate, breath and bowel sounds; carotid, radial and brachial artery pulses; 5-wire EKG connections; blood pressure cuff accessory and more. Steven Umbach explains the fascinating technology and process behind the product design and how it works.
This week I had the opportunity to visit Southwest Memorial Hermann's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a co-worker, our Mechanical Engineer Daniel Saldana. The purpose of our visit was to get a more detailed breakdown of the daily tasks RT’s in the NICU are faced with. Then, to further understand how we, as a design firm with a large emphasis on disposable medical products, can better understand products and procedures used in the NICU with the goal to improve them.
Respiratory Care Manager Robert Menchaca walked us through the standard formats when using different types of breathing treatments on patients, from low dosage oxygen therapy to high frequency ventilation. Later, we were able to interview the RT Team and get familiar with common issues they face when using specific products. We listened to their suggestions to make their job easier but also aid in providing better care for their patients. We felt like this feedback was invaluable.
Overall, the visit was extremely informative. The Zewski team gained valuable insight, insight we could never get from reading articles online or attending trade shows. We saw firsthand products being used on patients and the clinicians working to improve lives. Thank you to Robert and his staff for having us!
I never really gave it much thought until my oldest boy was about eight years old and I said to my wife, “We have to do something with him…he’s going stir crazy without a way to burn energy.” If you have young boys, you already know energetic they are and directing that energy in our highly electronic world is not very easy. Enrolling him in soccer or football wasn’t the easy solution you’d think it would be (most of the child athletes in those sports now are starting much earlier, at five or six years old). Realizing our lives were hectic enough trying to manage a schedule with my work travel, and many unpredictable events for mom, we looked at a local karate school in our neighborhood for a solution.
Check out this video and see how Zewski Corp sculpted a simple thought into an important product for the NICU.
We'd love to talk to you about your product idea and help sculpt your idea into an important product.
Wanted to share this video from one of our clients.
Neotech Products LLC and Zewski Corp. have worked together for more than 10 years. We are proud to be associated with this amazing company. As you'll see in the video, Neotech is truly making a difference...and the best is yet to come.
For more informaiton about Neotech Products, please visit www.neotechproducts.com.
Some of my earliest memories involve coloring and drawing. When I was young, I always had a sketchbook or even a ruled notebook with pencil and marker drawings. But for whatever reason, I stopped almost completely in my teens. It wasn’t until I began my studies in Industrial Design that I was confronted with the very need to start sketching again and at that point, computers, photoshop and rendering technology were all becoming viable tools in design. As a result, it was hard to accept why free-hand sketching had any advantage over using computer tools.
Zewski’s Sr. Industrial Designer, David Bier, and his wife Hallie, have welcomed a new baby boy to their family; Lucas Kurt Bier 6 lbs., 15 oz., born 7/17/17. The middle name, Kurt, is given in honor of David’s late brother-in-law who passed away recently. David is a critical member of our team and we wish him and his family all the best with their newest addition. Now they are outnumbered by the children, it should get interesting around their house!
It was July 2006 while I was on vacation in Spring, Texas contemplating a move to the area with my 3-year-old and pregnant wife when I got a call from Bob Metcalf, Metcraft Enterprises. He had found us in the San Fernando Valley Yellow Pages and was calling about looking for a local designer to help him work on some marine products.
IDEA is sponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and judged by a group of design experts from across the globe. Winners of the IDEA competition are featured in several media outlets and publications, have exhibition opportunities, and are given a license to display the IDEA winner logo on the associated marketing, branding, and packaging for their product. Designs will be judged based on their innovation, user experience, client and societal benefits, and appropriate aesthetics.Headed by Umbach Consulting Group LLC, in a joint effort with Zewski Corporation, the Cardionics SimSHIRT placed as a Finalist in the 2017 International Design Excellence Award.
ZewParts LLC, is a Zewski Corporation sister company which was initially designed primarily as an administrative method to separate "products" (prototyping costs) from "time" (Zewski Corporation's hourly billing associated with product design). However, we quickly realized an opportunity to use the new company as a platform to share creative ideas from the team and clients trying to test their ideas.
With this secondary goal to share and build upon new ideas in general, rather than being a profit machine, it opened the door to all kinds of co-op marketing opportunities and brand building of our primary business Zewski Corporation and its clients who are the idea people behind the next great ideas we will see in our generation.
With the financial constraints off, zewparts.com will become a place of just sharing crazy new ways of looking at the already existing trends out there, giving the public the first look at a new idea being testing in the marketplace or just a place to pick up some fun ZewGear that promotes forward thinking and creativity.
Remember as you develop your own ideas, if you get stuck: modify, rethink, and tread forward. If you don't give up it's hard to fail. Have fun, design with manic creativity!
I wanted to share the recent Neotech News article with our viewers by Craig McCrary, President of Neotech Products.
"The Neotech Meconium Aspirator... It was the first product that Neotech licensed from a clinician, a local Respiratory Therapist. Looking at it now, it seems like a pretty simple idea. But even the simplest ideas have to be thought of... and this particular one developed into a revolutionary new product.
Congratulations to our client Jenna Zeilbauer and her Rock On TheGo product being chosen as a Finalist in the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association JPMA Innovation Award Competition.
CREATED FOR PARENTS WHO ROCK
ROCK ON THE GO® is the first compact, portable, and easy-to-use device that converts any standard four-legged chair into a rocking chair. A necessity for any family with a young tot, it is an absolute must-have for parents with a penchant for traveling with a baby, or for those who bring baby with them to places where a rocking chair is simply not available. ROCK ON THE GO® allows parents who value rocking time with their baby to soothe or nurse him/her as if they were in the comfort of their own home. ROCK ON THE GO® fits in a standard diaper bag or large purse and can be installed in 90 seconds or less.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to a class of students at Sam Houston State University. I love any opportunity to speak, tell my story and hopefully inspire someone to be creative, take a leap of faith or follow their dreams. I wanted to share this note I received from the professor following our visit (David Bier on my team joined me for the presentation/discussion):
Since I started my business I have been determined to follow a process of constant communication with the customer. Interdependent consulting is the method we settled on at Zewski Corp years ago. Remembering back when I worked at big companies like Medtronic and VMI (Ricon), we had various opportunities to hire outside firms, in which case we would spend a short time with their team and off they would go. Many times, by the time they returned, they had completed dozens of hours of work, and there was little time for us to add our thoughts before they presented these ideas along with a large bill.
In 2007 I received a life and business changing call from a quiet, soft-spoken man asking for help in designing a pop-valve for CPAP. Ten years later the man on the phone, Neotech President Craig McCrary (who I now refer to as the peaceful warrior), and Neotech owners Arnold Heyman and the late Tom Thornbury, have become an integral part of what Zewski Corporation is and how we do business with everyone. But the growth and process by which our businesses have grown is far from normal. This is because, out of over 100 corporate businesses and 200 entrepreneurial clients Zewski has serviced in product design, Neotech is the only company we have found that offers a direct route for inventors to take a product from idea to production, and accomplishes it in a way where everyone wins.
From the outside, this may not seem possible. But as a product designer with 25 years in product development, and having worked with inventors and companies alike, although this is certainly unusual, it is also certainly possible. And in a world always leaning to the big guy, it comes almost fully in favor of the inventor in terms of risk and investment. How can they do this?
Photorealistic rendering, used in the context of product design, is the creation of visual material using 3D CAD (Computer-Automated Design) software, resulting in a digital image that’s generally indiscernible from an actual photograph. Using sophisticated software such as VRAY, a limitless array of colors, textures, materials (such as steel, glass, hard plastic or soft rubber) and properties can be applied to a CAD model to achieve realism. These elements, in combination with sophisticated virtual lighting and staging produces an extremely realistic representation of what a production level part or product will look like. This is invaluable in a designer’s workflow to convey a design to a client. Every aspect of a product’s aesthetic and ergonomic design can be clearly defined using renderings, removing any guesswork or confusion between the designer, client and manufacturer. This helps to streamline the production process and can save valuable time and prototyping cost.
When asked what my occupation is, I rarely answer the same way twice. While my title is Industrial Designer, this simple answer almost always leads to assumptions ranging from “You design factories?” or “You’re an engineer?”, so I try to give more detailed responses to avoid any confusion. I’m not an engineer and I don’t design factories. My job is to help create products and systems that benefit both the manufacturer and end user. While engineers are more focused on designing the way a product will work, an Industrial Designer’s job is to optimize the aesthetic look, ergonomic feel and the product’s ease of use, while ensuring that it utilizes appropriate and cost efficient materials and manufacturing processes. When you use a wakeboard rack, wireless speakers, or a handle for your yeti, you can bet an Industrial Designer played a critical role in many of the decisions made to create it’s look, feel and function.
Why are Engineers so different than everyone else? That question is often asked by many who are not Engineers, but who may know some and wonder about these peculiar people. Scott Adams made us all laugh exploiting Dilbert's idiosyncrasies. Non-engineers often didn't get the jokes, but we did. We understood who Engineers are, what we do, and what we have to deal with when surrounded by non-engineers. While people often comment on "how" we're different, I'd like to explore why are we different.
What is CFD? CFD stands for Computational Fluid Dynamics. It's a fancy way of saying that an analytical model can be set up to calculate flows and pressures of fluids interacting with solid surfaces.
Rhino can create, edit, analyze, document, render, animate, and translate NURBS* curves, surfaces, and solids, point clouds, and polygon meshes. There are no limits on complexity, degree, or size beyond those of your hardware.