Analytical Instrument Design

Cobalt is very pleased to unveil the product of our first industrial design assignment with Agilent Technologies, the new Cary 60.

The Cary 60 is one of the company’s most popular optical spectrometer instruments. The science behind this instrument is based on the principal that light reacts uniquely to different materials. Therefore the measurable reflectance or absorption of light can be used to determine the chemical composition of a natural or artificially made substance.

The Cary 60 uses sophisticated optics and control technology to rapidly focus and detect light passing through a sample. Applications are very broad and include chemical, environmental and industrial analysis as well as forensics, biotechnology and life sciences to name a few. The instrument is equally at home within pharmaceutical labs or university facilities.

Design innovations

From an industrial design perspective, the key user interaction we considered was the sample access. The feel and action of the two sliding doors became literal and figurative ‘touchpoints’, prompting careful design detailing including a stainless steel handle plate that imparts an impression of quality and solidness.

Broader objectives such as DFMA (design for manufacture and assembly) and service access were also key design objectives.

Cobalt’s role within the product’s development was to work with Agilent’s R&D and marketing teams based at their Mulgrave site. Initially we developed 3 concepts ranging from moderate to major change. A key part of the design development was the early consideration of rapid, fastener-free assembly techniques.

The chosen design features complex surfaces restrained within conventional overall forms. The instrument expresses intelligence and technology within a conservative context.

About Agilent

Agilent Technologies began life as Hewlett-Packard. In 1999 Hewlett-Packard decided to focus on its IT products and spun-off its electronic and bio-analytical instrument division as Agilent. In 2010 Agilent acquired Varian, to form one of the world’s largest measurement companies with approximately 18,000 employees.

The Mulgrave site has now become Agilent’s Spectroscopy Division for atomic and molecular optical spectroscopy instruments.

Design Heritage

The new Cary 60 replaces the original Cary 50, itself a watershed product. Developed by Varian Australia in the mid-1990s, the Cary 50 was the first instrument Varian designed with the assistance from an external industrial design group.
At a global level the Cary 50’s design, user interface and materials set new standards in instrument design. Commercially, the model became an instant and enduring success over a remarkably long lifespan of 15 years. Unsurprisingly, Cary 50’s design language set the theme for Cobalt’s first 1998 project with Varian.

A new beginning

The opportunity and significance of designing the Cary 50’s successor has not gone unnoticed by Steve Martinuzzo, Cobalt Principal and Product Leader for Analytical and Medical. “Since those early days, Varian acquired a number of smaller businesses and then more recently merged into the larger Agilent group, but our on-going partnership continues” says Steve.

The next instruments in the development pipeline, respectively the 14th and 15th instruments designed with Cobalt’s assistance, are currently nearing completion. In the meantime the new Cary 60, like its predecessor, is set to mark a new beginning and is already showing it will achieve its own success.