Putting concept to the test
Many industries, particularly chemical and pharmaceutical, use spectrometry to analyze the properties of raw materials. Recognizing the need for an easy-to-use, flexible instrument to meet a growing range of applications, Thermo Scientific developed the Nicolet™ iS™50 spectroscopy system.
The revolutionary design includes many new features, including the capability to add modules that expand the operator’s analysis toolkit. Realizing it was a massive development project, Thermo Scientific outsourced some of the design to allow its engineers and scientists to focus on the instrument’s core functions.
Design Concepts assisted the company’s engineering team by creating a proof-of-principle (POP) prototype for the Raman module. The Raman subsystem contains a powerful infrared laser, a precision three-axis sample positioning system and sophisticated optics to capture light scattered off the sample and deliver it to the main instrument for spectral analysis.
Developing this technically complex module required considerable electrical and mechanical engineering expertise as well as advanced prototyping capabilities. At Thermo Scientific’s request, we searched for a commercially available positioning system that could be customized to the instrument’s specifications. Finding no viable option, our engineering team created concepts that Thermo Scientific’s engineers took to completion.
Creation of the POP prototype involved:
- Design of the robot mechanism
- Optics integration
- Control and protection circuit design
- Printed circuit board layout
- Firmware design
- Prototype construction that included machining custom parts, building a printed circuit board and unit assembly
- Mechanical, electrical and firmware integration testing
Thermo Scientific’s development team used the prototype to verify performance before designing the final product, which both saved time and mitigated risk. Shortly after its release in 2012, the iS50 won the Best New Analytic Instrument Award from the Gulf Coast Conference.
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