Project Profile

Goals of the project

In this project Penn State Erie, The Behrend College worked with a Knowledge Park partner in an Open Laboratory Environment to develop the physical practitioner interface of a device designed to use ultrasonic technology to remove plaque buildup in patients susceptible to stroke. The intent was to iteratively evolve an ergonomically optimized handle that housed both the controls and actuation hardware of the device. In this instance form, fit AND function were critical as the prototypes developed would mature the product architecture to the point where manufacturing tool development could begin. Fused deposition modeling was chosen as the prototyping technique because it provided articles with properties (physical, mechanical and thermal) that were largely similar to those anticipated in the final application.   

Nature of the Collaboration

This collaboration involved a number of discussions with the industry partner on product features and the related producibility, either in prototyping or industrial manufacturing. Penn State produced prototype hardware that was evaluated by the industrial product development team and clinicians or practitioners. Recommendations on new configurations were made and through an iterative process an viable architecture was evolved.       


Manufacturing, process development, product design, ergonomics, ultrasonics, solid modeling, rapid prototyping. The broader University/Industry team integrated all of these skillsets as part of a focused product development effort.  


Strataysys 1200es Fused Deposition modeler


The industry partner, being aware of Penn State Erie’s strength in plastics technology development and capability in rapid prototyping approached the School of Engineering for product development assistance. Time to market was important so a rapid product architecture development program was executed through iterative collaboration in about six months. The project was driven by the schedule and priorities of the industry partner. Final execution occurred at delivery of the evolved prototype. It is anticipated that further collaboration will occur as production items are developed.


Essentially two variants of the design were produced at approximately the 3rd and 5th months of the project.

Challenges encountered

No major challenges were encountered. However it should be noted that an Open Laboratory approach to the product development was critical. Since the industry partner has a development and manufacturing facility at Knowledge Park, meetings, data exchanges and hardware delivery were all extremely convenient. Penn State’s willingness to engage the required skillsets in a flexible manner was key to success.

Major outcomes

The major deliverable was a fully functioning prototype that will form the basis for a critical element of a commercial product.

Innovations, impact and successes

The project team developed a highly compact product design that could be evaluated from the perspectives of technical function as well as ergonomic appropriateness without recourse to expensive iterations of mold designs.