Agilent Technologies 4300 Handheld FTIR Scanner
- Agilent Technologies
- CobaltNiche Design
Mid-infrared molecular spectroscopy technology analyses: polymers, coatings, composites, geological samples, soil, bulk materials (powders and granules), and even historical artefacts and artwork. Agilent’s 4300 FTIR places this amazing technology in the hand of users across a range of industries, providing immediate analysis results in the field. The product’s light-weight (2kg) and the unique, ‘hot swap’ battery functionality ensures ease of use for extended periods, while the product’s styling appeals to this broad user base by straddling the boundary between sleek laboratory instrument and outdoor measurement tool. The product’s design language and assembly approach conceals fasteners in a sophisticated handheld solution.
Integrated multidisciplinary design approach
CobaltNiche and Agilent Technologies worked closely together to develop the highly integrated product assembly, balancing; internal technology, heat dissipation, air flow and sealing performance, ergonomic and centre of gravity requirements, and the mechanical design detailing of over 20 injection moulded casing parts. The multidisciplinary design centred approach to the product’s development integrated industrial design, mechanical engineering, optical engineering, electronics and software development with heat management and fluid dynamics engineering – the result, a broadly applicable product that maximises the value of Agilent’s world leading scanning technology in the form an exceptionally versatile and usable product.
Strategic design and reduced footprint
The 4300 FTIR’s ergonomic packaging and unsurpassed technical specifications have reasserted Agilent’s position as the world leader in handheld FTIR scanning. Agilent’s strategic design partnership with CobaltNiche has been a key element in allowing Agilent to develop its competitive advantage. Agilent and CobaltNiche have designed a product with empathy for the user and the way they will interact with the product. The 4300’s portability reduces the need to disturb sites by taking physical samples away for analysis, reducing the overall footprint of the scanning technology on the world around us.
In developing an instrument intended for extended use, a key insight was the importance of grip ergonomics and the product’s centre of gravity in making the product user friendly. Optimisation of mass, through detailed design and engineering, could reduce the product’s weight only so far. Although the lightest product of its kind anywhere in the world, the 2kg weight still posed fatigue challenges. CobaltNiche’s design thinking process explored internal technology configurations and iterative mock-ups and prototypes to optimise the product’s centre of gravity and ergonomics, minimising user fatigue and discomfort during periods of extended use.
The imbedding of design in the 4300’s development led to several features that support its effectiveness in a range of out-of-lab applications, including; integrated and removable shoulder strap, pivoting touchscreen interface, and a battery housing that supports ‘hot swap’ functionality while sealing multiple PCBAs, an exposed heat sink and a mains power connection. The 4300’s main start-up interface includes an integrated power-on button and USB port, visually split by a vertical LED indicator. The USB port allows for data download and for laptop connection for more in-depth data analysis during scanning.
Sealing and cooling
The 4300’s electronics are sealed against ingress, despite requiring fan powered cooling across two of its three heat sinks. The product’s hermetically sealed core (world leading optical technology) is contained within a hydro-formed aluminium case, clamped between the moulded outer casings. Within the hydro-form, excess heat is wicked away, via heat pipes, to an external heat sink. Air is drawn between the hydro-form and outer casings, directed over the hydro-form’s heat sink, then over the main PCB heat sink, before exiting via the top panel, directed away from the scanning sample (sometimes a power or liquid) and the user’s face.