Despite the pandemic, 2021 has been a year of tremendous growth for Design Reality. We’ve won awards, expanded our premises and have seen many of our long-term projects hit the market.
But perhaps the biggest development in the past year has been joining the Full Support Group family – a group of companies specialising in the manufacture, education, supply (and now design/development) of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE).
While this has involved some organizational over-sight changes, Design Reality remains an independent Design Consultancy and continues to work with companies around the world. To create and develop truly innovative products in the medical, industrial, consumer and defense sectors.
Rather than limiting our creativity, this merger has allowed us to go from strength to strength – expanding our expertise, capacity and services in every way.
Made in Wales
Additive manufacturing has always been at the heart of Design Reality; having utilized 3D printing for clients as early as 2001. Since then, technology has advanced significantly, and we now have three industrial grade additive printers to cater for all kinds of situations: from one-off prototypes and high-resolution samples, to multi-material overmoulds for mass production.
In the past few years, we have seen a great increase in demand for goods to be made in Britain. In response, we have expanded our in-house manufacturing capabilities, setting up two new assembly and packing sites at our base in North Wales, specifically for mass production.
To facilitate this growth, we’ve had to grow our team too; with new specialist Workshop Technicians, Production Operatives, Product Designers and Directors all joining the ranks from the area – local jobs for local people.
This expansion means we can now take clients through the whole production cycle – from concept, to design, to prototyping, to full-scale manufacturing.
For the past 20 years, we’ve made a name for ourselves in the design of personal and respiratory protection; having worked on some amazing respirators, such as the coveted General Service Respirator, used by the British Armed Forces.
As industry-leaders in the field, we know that different industries have different requirements from their apparatus; so when we were tasked with designing a reusable respirator for the healthcare market – we rose to the challenge.
Traditionally, reusable respirators have had exhalation valves to expel air breathed out. For most industries that isn’t a problem, but in healthcare environments it is essential that the wearer and the patients they are helping are protected. With asymptomatic viruses (such as COVID-19), it’s possible that a healthcare worker may unknowingly be carrying an illness. If they then wear a respirator with a valve to deal with a patient, their breath is being expelled unfiltered through the valve, potentially infecting the vulnerable patient in their care.
To combat this, we did away with the exhalation valve completely and designed a unique air flow channel in the mask that ensures the wearer breathes in through one filter and out through the other, whilst keeping breathing resistance to a minimum.
Communication barriers can also be a problem for RPE wearers, so we designed a thin anti-fog clear window at the front of the mask so that patients and other staff can better understand each other.
The Easimask R200 is not only the first of its kind, it is made in the UK and completely recyclable – dramatically reducing the respirator’s carbon footprint.
To save lives and ensure good-practice, we’ve utilised our RPE, electronics and design expertise to develop FitCheck – the world’s first in-mask quantitative pre-use wearer-seal check system.
A form of wearable tech, the FitCheck device fits inside the R200 respirator and uses sensory technology to monitor air-flow pressure levels in real-time. When a fit check is performed, the device gives a visible indication to the wearer if the respirator has been fitted correctly, and reports back the results to managers through a companion app and backend system.
Another area of design we’ve been focusing on in the past year has been that of assistive technology. We’re really proud to have been involved with some truly life-changing projects, such as the prototyping and early manufacturing for prosthetic leg cover company Limb-Art – who recently won an NHS contract to supply every amputee in Wales with a free prosthetic cover, and Aquarate’s hyrdocare fluid intake system – where we refined their prototype’s electronic fluid-sensing technology and general ergonomic design to be suitable for mass production.
Another project we’ve supported which came to market this year is the ProMOTION EV1, a portable targeted contrast therapy device to aid athletes with sport-related injuries. We’ve been involved at every step of the way with this project; from research, design and electronics, to interface development, manufacturing and regulatory compliance. And it’s exciting to see the product having a real-life impact on world-class athletes, such as Harry Maguire.
Designing the future
With our increased staff, design and production capacity, the future is looking exciting for Design Reality. Whatever you need, we look forward to hearing from you soon.