In the world of prototyping, Italy-based 3ntr has proven its worth, demonstrating time and time again that its 3D printing solutions offer the speed, precision and reliability needed to prototype viable products. The company’s 3D printers have even proven capable in one of the most demanding fields around—healthcare—through a recent partnership with global design studio Frog.
Frog is a globally established design studio with offices all around the world. Founded in 1969 in Germany (happy 50th anniversary, Frog!), the company operates in both product design and digital services, with a primary focus on the medical sector. Recently, the renowned design studio was involved in the development of a device called Lumen, which gathers real-time metabolic data from users.
The Lumen project is spearheaded by an Israeli startup of the same name, which enlisted Frog to help design the innovative medical device. Frog, in turn, utilized 3ntr 3D printing technology to iterate physical prototypes of it.
The final design of the Lumen device recalls that of a whistle, and it is used similarly. That is, the user simply breathes into the device and then metabolic data is transmitted to a dedicated app that communicates with the user, helping them to establish a nutrition plan that will help improve their metabolism. The metabolic data is measured through the use of a CO2 sensor and flow meter which can read the carbon dioxide in the breath, indicating whether carbs or fat are being used for energy.
The data collected by Lumen—including physical parameters and sporting activity—is processed by software which provides a maximum value of carbohydrates that can be used up in a day and monitors the physical values of the user. A nutrition plan is then generated based on this information, which can lead to a healthier metabolism.
In coming up with the Lumen design, Frog made use of 3ntr’s three-extruder A4 3D printer, which allowed it to find the most ergonomic shape without affecting the functionality of the device. The prototyping process, as one can imagine, required a lot of work and various attempts before the optimal design was reached—a process which would not have been efficient without the use of 3D printing.
“For our type of work, we need immediate feedback and to be able to shorten the process by even half a day can make a difference,” said Andrea Besana, Principal Mechanical Engineer at Frog. “From this perspective, the 3ntr 3D printers were particularly effective, given their precision in the printing phase.”
The Lumen project showcases how not only small companies but also global players are beginning to understand the fundamental role that 3D printing can play, especially when it comes to the creation of innovative concepts. Frog’s digitalization process has been gradual but consistent over the years, first relying on external services and leading up to the purchase of its own in-house additive manufacturing systems and collaborating with 3ntr.
“In our field, 3D printing technologies are able to greatly facilitate the product development process,” Besana added. “At first, we tried to support ourselves with external services, but we needed to reduce prototyping times, so we decided to integrate this technology in-house. We were looking for an accessible and high-performance solution at the same time; 3ntr represented the perfect intersection for our needs.”
Lumen is not the only Frog product that has been designed thanks in part to 3D printing, and specifically 3ntr’s 3D printing, but it undoubtedly represents the most relevant case study in terms of overcoming design limitations with the technology—a significant added value that many companies are still struggling to metabolize.
“A fundamental aspect of 3D printing is that is gives you the opportunity to find different solutions in terms of form and ergonomics of the object,” concluded Besana. “Having no more cost constraints, we can carry out different tests and then see which is the most suitable for the finished product.”