* DESIGN OF
THE YEAR 2016
NSP Tech Pte Ltd
SAFETiCET is a safety lancet designed primarily for pricking the finger for blood glucose sampling. Ordinarily, for safety reasons, the use of lancets is restricted to a hospital setting. However, SAFETiCET has made it easier and more convenient for diabetes patients and their caregivers to use lancets in a home environment.
Conventional lancets tend to be larger and more uncomfortable to use. They are also more prone to cross-contamination, and more dangerous to carry around and dispose of. SAFETiCET was designed to respond to these concerns.
With its patented contact-activated Rotational Trigger Mechanism, SAFETiCET minimises pain for users by reducing trigger force and vibration. The lancet is also intuitive and easy to use – it is gently triggered by being pushed against the side of a finger. Self-deactivated after one use, it prevents injuries and cross-contamination, enhances hygiene and safety, and controls the spread of diseases by preventing reuse and ensuring safe disposal. Moreover, the variety of brightly-coloured plastic housings helps patients feel less intimidated by the prospect of pricking their fingers.
By reducing the pain and challenges of using lancets through such unique design features and packaging, SAFETiCET promotes regular self-testing amongst people of all ages and backgrounds, and ultimately aims to save lives.READ MORE
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Joseph Lum developed his interest and skills in design and problem-solving when helping out at his father's locksmith stall in his teenage days. He built a sorting and assembly service to support a Japanese-owned factory by engaging a group of housewives in his neighbourhood. This was the start of NSP Tech, a plastic injection mould business that has evolved into an ISO-certified contract manufacturer that specialises in design and mould-making, injection moulding, and various secondary processes. Today, NSP is a leading manufacturer of innovative, safe and reliable disposable medical devices using state-of-the-art technology. In August, Joseph received the 2016 World IP Organization IP Enterprise Trophy and the 2016 IP Office Singapore Technology Patent Award. SAFETiCET, which he began developing in 2007, also received Unity Pharmacy's Most Popular Product Award in 2015 and 2016.READ MORE
NSP Tech Pte Ltd
Raymond Tang Peng Yew
Chan Pang Kian
SAFETiCET is encapsulated in brightly-coloured plastic housings.
(Photo by: DesignSingapore Council & The Urban Redevelopment Authority)
Exploded view of SAFETiCET.
(Render by: NSP Tech Pte Ltd)
‘‘In the business of design, the product has to be relevant. It has to be relevant to the current market and the expectations of the end-users.’’
Insights from the Recipient
What 'problem' does the design solve?
Joseph Lum: The design solved almost all the pre-existing problems in other lancets. For starts, it's less painful because SAFETiCET's patented technology uses a rotational movement rather than force to break the catch that holds the preloaded needle. Its small size, a result of the concise area of movement required for activation, makes it portable and encourages regular testing. It's also vibration-proof because the activation mechanism prevents self-triggering. Its attractive and gentle features make the blood testing process considerably less intimidating.
More importantly, SAFETiCET's greatest practical features are that it's safe – single use with self-retractable needle and pilfer-proof outer casing – and intuitive to use, which means less training time is required, especially for patients with dexterity problems.
What challenges did you encounter during the design or manufacturing process? How did you resolve them?
Joseph: My philosophy is that nothing is impossible. That said, we faced a four-pronged challenge.
The first was financial. As a small and medium-sized business, a lot of funding, including bank loans, went into research and development. It took five years and four generations to arrive at the final design.
The second challenge was technical. The technology of needle handling is not mature in Singapore, especially when we needed help to put the needle into the mould. It was also difficult to source the automation to assemble SAFETiCET's components.
Our third challenge was obtaining supplies, especially for the springs, during the development period. We had to rely on external suppliers to make samples for us, and each time, we had to depend on the supplier's capacity and wait at least one to two months for a sample. In the end, we decided to develop our own in-house capability for spring-making and needle-handling machines.
Our forth challenge was the human factor. It's difficult to find good engineers who have the expertise and knowledge in making medical devices. We had no choice but to recruit and train our own engineers.
How did the end-user experience motivate you as a designer?
Joseph: When we first launched our product at a medical exhibition in San Antonio, Texas, I noticed that all the professional nurses who tested SAFETiCET had similar positive comments: they felt that the device was less painful compared to the other lancets they had been using.
We have also participated in two community exhibitions in New York and Chicago. More than 98 percent of the diabetic patients voted SAFETiCET as the least painful lancet they had come across. Some even said that SAFETiCET is painless.
A senior diabetic educator in America commented that SAFETiCET prolongs life simply because it's less painful to use which means people will be more willing to test their glucose levels regularly. This results in better control of the disease.
We also sponsored SAFETiCET at a diabetic camp for children in North Carolina. These kids were as young as six. Most of them loved SAFETiCET as it's easier and less painful to use.
How might the community or end-user be co-opted into the design process?
Joseph: There have long been complaints about lancets, in general, especially about the pain factor. When designing SAFETiCET, we used these complaints as our driver and objectives to create a better product and, at the same time, make improvements on the design and appearance of the produce. Some of our ideas, in face, come from the end-users' feedback.
What's the best advice anyone has given you about design, or the business of deisgn? And how have you used that advice in your work?
Joseph: In the business of design, the product has to be relevant. It has to be relevant to the current market and the expectations of the end-users. After completing our fourth generation of SAFETiCET, our sales person observed that the product was still too big. And so, we went back to the drawing board and spent a few more months to improve on the design to make it even smaller.
My takeaway from the entire process is that, as designers, we need to be flexible, and be able to accept criticism. It's the only way to create a better product.
What existing design do you think has a positive impact on society?
Joseph: The motorised smart wheelchair. It gives people who might other wise be highly dependent the ability to move around freely and independently. It can go up stairs, and it can even get the person into a car so that he or she can drive without needing someone to assist in the process.
Driven by an empathy for medical patients who have to go through the painful experience of pricking their fingers to draw blood for sampling several times a day, SAFETiCET features an innovative rotational trigger mechanism that reduces vibrational force, thus drastically reducing trauma and pain.
The patented mechanism allows for a compactness of design, while maintaining good handling and ergonomics. The logical form and detailing of the lancet informs the user very clearly how the product should be used. Pragmatism and honesty are the main characteristics of the design as there is no unnecessary adornment. The lancets come in a bright colour-coded range to indicate the varying needle strengths. All these considerations combine to reduce the ordeal of daily blood sampling.
This is an example of a user-centric observation being successfully addressed by a clever application of a simple mechanical engineering principle.VIEW JURORS
KANG THIAN JIAN
The advent of technology and increasing affluence have changed lifestyles. We are now exposed to a greater variety of food choices and lead, arguably, more comfortable and, at times, more dormant lifestyles. As a result, there has been an increase in health problems such as cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
It is increasingly critical that the diagnosis of common health problems is efficient, simple and accessible. Thankfully, this is possible with the rapid progression of medical technology. Blood sampling is one such self-diagnostic tool available to individuals. However, such tools are often painful to use, and hygiene is not necessarily guaranteed.
There is therefore a critical need for a simple and affordable lancet. NSP Tech's innovative, inventive and user-friendly solution miniaturises the traditional lancet trigger mechanism into an attractive, sleek and easy-to-use design. SAFETiCET employs a novel two-stop operated mechanism that is convenient, safe and smart. A V-shaped collar allows the protective cap to be simply twisted off. This mechanism is packed in a tube that is tiny compared to traditional devices. To prevent reuse and enforce hygiene, the lancet automatically retracts the used needle into the protective housing.
What's more, SAFETiCET is available in multiple grades to suit variable human skin and usage intent. The increases the utility of the device as it can be applied to different body parts, and used for different blood volumes and penetration depths, whilst controlling pain and tissue damage at varying sensitivity levels.
More significantly, the needle is not visible. Trypanophobia, or the fear of needles, affects between 20 and 33 percent of the adult population to such an extent that it causes them to avoid needed medical care. The new SAFETiCET means these sufferers will now be able to use the diagnostic tool without being impeded by their fear.
NSP Tech's invention has resulted in an affordable healthcare option whose benefits will extend beyond Singapore. With increasing health issues troubling millions, SAFETiCET is a genuine change-maker that will enable regular health monitoring, reduce discomfort, increase healing and promote a healthier lifestyle.
DESIGNER OF THE YEAR 2018
Founder, Hans Tan Studio; and Assistant Professor, Division of Industrial Design,
National University of Singapore
Hans Tan Studio