The Danish industrial company Mekoprint has been chosen as a development partner by the Swedish listed company Bioservo. Mekoprint provides a user-friendly operating solution for an advanced assistive device that will help ensure a better quality of life for thousands of people with reduced muscle strength in the hands. The solution is an example of Mekoprint’s strategic goal of designing and developing products in collaboration with customers.
The industrial company Mekoprint has built up a wide range of design and engineering skills, which means that the company can participate in close development processes with customers and contribute with specialist skills. Now the company can unveil a partnership with the Swedish life science company Bioservo for an advanced assistive device that can help people with reduced strength in their hands after, for example, a brain injury, damage to the spinal cord, or a stroke.
Bioservo’s patented product, Carbonhand, ensures that users can grab, for example, a cup, a pen, or another tool that they use in their everyday life. Carbonhand consists of a glove with built-in pressure sensors that register when the hand grabs onto things. The glove then supplies the necessary force to ensure a firm grip.
Mekoprint has produced an operating solution – a so-called Human Machine Interface (HMI) – which sits on the glove. As the glove, in addition to having a nice design, must also be comfortable to wear and easy to operate, Bioservo sets a number of requirements that bring Mekoprint’s many different competencies into play.
– When we make operating solutions, it is usually for products and equipment that have a flat surface. But for Carbonhand, we make circuits that can be sewn into a fabric glove and that can withstand the glove being bent and washed. At the same time, we must ensure that the glove is easy to operate and takes up very little space on the arm, so it is a complicated task that can only be solved because we have the necessary development skills to engage in dialogue with customers about an advanced product, says Lene Randers, Head of Customer Service & Project Management at Mekoprint and continues:
– One of our strengths is that the employees have extensive experience with, among other things, design, construction, and materials for the various keyboard components, and this means that we can enter into a constructive dialogue with the customers. Bioservo is a leader in sensor technology and has invented an innovative product, which we have contributed to making it even better, because our engineers, production people and other colleagues understand the needs of the users.
During the process, Mekoprint has also developed test specifications and verified the design through prototypes and tests – all in close dialogue with Bioservo.
Close dialogue on product development
Mekoprint’s development skills, insight into various technologies and experience with production methods have been extremely important in the process, explains Ola Markusson, Chief Technology Officer at Bioservo.
– It is a great strength that Mekoprint can both develop and produce, because they then must produce what they themselves propose in the development process. They are ambitious and proactive and come up with good suggestions to make the product even better. The dialogue with Mekoprint has been outstanding, and we have challenged each other to find the best solutions, says Ola Markusson, and Emma Linder, industrial designer at Bioservo, adds:
– We expected a lot from Mekoprint. The circuits must be able to bend because it sits in a glove that the users wear on their hand. The product must withstand being washed, it must be easy to operate, it must not take up too much space on the arm and it must look good. It is difficult, but Mekoprint has managed to solve the challenges.
Carbonhand is already sold in the EU and Australia, and Bioservo has just entered the American market, where the product can, among other things, help war veterans who have been injured.
Will develop products together with customers
The collaboration with Bioservo is an example of how Mekoprint will be the customers’ development and production partner to a much greater extent than before and become a total supplier of customer-specific components in close collaboration with the customers. This is the main reason why Mekoprint has made large investments in the production apparatus in recent years while employing additional employees with development skills.
– We have strong development skills within service solutions and can therefore complement many of our customers’ development teams. They reach the goal of their product development faster when they can get our designers and engineers to solve their specific tasks regarding the operating solution, says Mekoprint CEO Anders Kold and continues:
– It is a very important part of our strategy to have a good dialogue with the customers already early in the process, just as was the case with Bioservo. Some customers come with a finished solution that they would like us to produce, but in many cases, we can make the solution even better if we are involved early on, because we are constantly striving to find the best solution together with the customers.