AEC Project Summary – Nicholas Harrison (322/07)


This report provides a summary of the assist with Nicholas Harrison (May 07 – March 07) undertaken by the Advanced Engineering Cluster at the University of Wolverhampton’s Innovative Product Development Centre. The project was delivered by IPDC associate Rainer Hurricks.


Nicholas Harrison is a former student at the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Art and Design. During his degree course he developed a concept for the mobile storage of needles for self-injecting diabetics. His concept offered a number of beneficial features:

Safe transportation and storage of needles

Aesthetically pleasing, with possibility for personalisation

Ergonomic, especially important for those who suffer from reduced

His concept caught the interest of medical product development company ‘HealthTech’ who were in the process of forming a partnership with Nicholas. The key part of the design is the internal mechanism and this was the focus for the project.


The project involved a number of different areas:

1. Concept Generation

2. Concept Development

3. CAD Training

4. Intellectual Property / Contractual Advice

Concept Generation

Although the client has already developed a concept for the mechanism, it was important to ensure that all options had been considered. The process to generate concepts was based on a brainstorming session. The aim of this session was to generate as many concepts as possible – irrespective of how plausible they were.

These concepts were then discussed with the client and the optimum solution was converged upon. The chosen concept was based on the operation of ball point pen, this represented a significant improvement on the original design.

Concept Development

A 3D CAD model of the selected concept was generated to aide further development. This initially involved exploring different mechanism configurations to allow a more informed judgement to be made.

After the optimum configuration was selected the development focussed on the incorporation of a number of features to:

Indicate the number of unused needles

Minimise risk of accidental rotation

Minimise access to used needles

o Ensure the rotation can only occur in one direction

o Ensure that carousel can only complete a single revolution

Provide a quick and easy means for re-loading

o Allow access without the need for tools

o Minimise risk of accidentally opening the case

o Ensure that carousel cannot be loaded incorrectly

Ensure that the needle case can be easily loaded into the carousel, and is retained when needle is attached to injection pen

Ensure easy insertion of injection pen

CAD Training

During the course of the project the client established in-house CAD capabilities and as part of the assist a half day CAD training session was provided. The training was based on the client’s product, so in addition to improving their skills it allowed them to have a greater input into the concept development process.

Intellectual Property / Contractual Advice

At the beginning of the project the client was in the process of forming a partnership with ‘HealthTech’. To help him with this he was given advice from Dr. Iain Alexander on a number of intellectual property and related contractual issues.

Next Steps

Following completion of the design the next step for the client would be to make some working prototypes. This would give them more insight into the product and help drive the development towards production. The client was signposted to a number of rapid prototyping bureaus that could provide this service.

The client was also in the process of applying for a patent to protect the product design.

Assistance Achievements

The support provided by AEC assisted Nicholas Harrison to develop his concept into a working prototype. The processes and techniques used allowed the exploration of many ideas in a time-effective manner. This resulted in a better quality final product that is more likely to realise commercial success.

The client has now started up a new design consultancy, ‘Harrison Design Solutions Ltd’, which will own the product patent. Ultimately, the product will help self-injecting diabetics in managing their condition and reduce the risk of infection from used needles.