This project was undertaken for Firsthand Design Limited – a design consultancy that specialised in the design and development of medical products. Firsthand Design approached me with the brief, which was to look at ways of making it easier to dispense medical bone cements through a syringe.
Bone cements harden reasonably rapidly and as they begin to do so, their viscosity changes making it harder to push through smaller orifices and tubes. A solution to this problem is to fit the syringe into a sizeable dispensing gun (a 'pressuriser') that applies additional force to the rear of the syringe. However, this requires an additional set of components to handle and clean.
Having gone through various concepts, I came up with the idea of using screw torque to assists pushing the bone cement through the syringe. This was combined with a standard syringe to produce this unique concept – a syringe that enables the user to push the plunger until the force becomes too high then they can switch over to a screw torque system to provide that extra push force on the contents.
The concept took a lot of work and tweaking to get right, particularly when keeping the overall cost of the product as low as possible. The barrel of the syringe was eventually designed as one piece with a locking collar that could be pulled back to engage a thread on the plunger and enable to screw torque system to operate. Because of the strong forces involved, the design needed careful consideration around the engagement threads on the barrel.
Unfortunately, this project wasn't exploited commercially for various reasons, but it does demonstrate the possibilities of innovation through lateral thinking.