CASE STUDY

Altopa OBlend


Client: Altopa

Project: OBlend

Services: Industrial Design, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Firmware, Prototyping, Manufacturing


Precision Controlled Microfluidic Delivery

The Altopa OBlend is a groundbreaking device in the field of microfluidic delivery systems that allows for on-demand blending and dispensing of oils in microliter volumes. Blur designed the custom microfluidics system from initial concept through production, including the mechanical, electrical, and software engineering. We also converted the science into a cost-effective, commercial product design through our industrial design and product development efforts.

01


Understanding Technology Options

Altopa came to Blur with the idea of metered, precision dispensing of botanical fluids in the home.  We analyzed the technical possibilities and set forth a plan for technology, design, usability, and cost.

02


Industrial Design

After understanding the OBlend technology, we investigated possible user interactions, potential environments and desired accessories then created a design language around that technology and the desired features.  We considered things like:

  • A home use environment
  • Accessibility to change cartridges and the mixing chip
  • Accessibility for cleaning and maintenance
  • Access to the dispensing port for a variety of accessories
  • Minimalistic device communications to the user

03


Micro-Fluidics

We designed a custom micro-fluidics chip along with the drive system to open and close the channels needed for precise fluid flow.  We were also dealing with extremely volatile chemicals, so materials selection and manufacturing part precision of the chip components were critical.

04


Mechanical Engineering

Our mechanical engineering effort on the Oblend was extensive and covered a wide array of processes including:

  • CAD Development
  • Plastic injection molding
  • Sheet metal forming
  • Metal casting
  • Machining
  • Mechanisms to open and close the micro-fluidic valves

05


Electrical Engineering and Firmware

We designed the electrical and firmware systems to drive and operate the Oblend. This included:

  • 5 individual PCB designs
  • Implementation of Cypress PSOC microcontroller
  • Arrays of heaters, sensors and actuators to measure temperature, pressure, and system status of various components
  • Internet communication via WiFi or Ethernet
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to enable off device communication
  • Firmware the operate the system with input from an app.
  • Firmware to regulate system temperatures and pressures so that dispensing parameters were tailored to the unique properties of specific fluid viscosities entering the system.

06


Prototyping and Testing

Oblend testing was all about reliability and accuracy.  We found through rounds and rounds of iterations and clean room testing, that the accuracy of our dispensing well exceeded our designed expectations. We built several looks-like, work-likes prototypes to be used in testing and demos to prospective partners.  With our in-house prototyping capabilities, like machining and molding, we produced the high precision components needed for a successful system operation.  It also helped us hone in on the ultimate design solutions that were robust and able to handle the reliability requirements of the product.