Designing a Minimalist Soother
Modifying a soother shield in diameter and depth impacts the flexural resistance
Designing a minimalist soother with a smaller footprint is more of a challenge than it may first appear. Modifying a soother shield in diameter and depth impacts the flexural resistance and can also compromise safety compliance. The shield is there to prevent swallowing and must adhere to an industry specific safety standard called the mask test.
The client wanted to study different design options using a virtual model before progressing to expensive physical prototypes. Without the resources or experience to complete this complex task in-house, they asked BlueThink for help.
Firstly, analysis of the existing design looking at geometry, force distribution and material characteristics.
The challenge of designing a minimalist soother was broken down into three distinct phases. Firstly, analysis of the existing design looking at geometry, force distribution and material characteristics. The standards for the mask test were also studied in detail to ensure any new designs matched the exact requirements.
Secondly, a numerical performance comparison of the design ideas was created.
The mask test was then simulated using finite element method and experimental testing in the BlueThink lab.
Finally, the results of these tests were used to validate the numerical model, compare designs and optimise the final solution. During this final stage constraints identified in the manufacturing process created the need for further modifications to the optimal set.
By embedding a structural reinforcement into the silicone shield.
The re-designed soother shield not only achieved shape improvement and weight reduction, but also material savings and standards compliance. By embedding a structural reinforcement into the silicone shield, the overall stiffness of the soother was improved without compromising safety.
This innovative approach was transferred across from the aerospace industry, where it is frequently used to strengthen lightweight structural components.
This project showed the client how they can directly reduce their time to market by using numerical simulation. Utilising this methodology for product development also reduced the large investments usually required on physical tools and prototyping.