Cobalt Nathan

Team Spotlight - Nathan

Team Spotlight – Nathan Scanlon

Our amazing staff are more comfortable getting excited by new design challenges than beating their own drum. So in this series, we turn the spotlight on our team to give you an insight into how they each tick. Our latest feature is on Nathan, one of our talented young product design engineers who began his journey at Cobalt through Swinburne’s placement program. He’s worked on key projects such as the AdaptFit Cable Trainer and OX Exoskeleton.

But what else is there to Nathan?

Favourite part of studying PDE?

My favourite part of studying PDE (product design engineering) was the exposure to industry experience I gained both here at Cobalt and through others that I was able to take part in. This allowed me to apply the skills that I was learning to real projects and clients, and even fit in a little bit of travel during my studies.

Niftiest thing you’ve learnt at Cobalt recently?

There are always new SolidWorks tools to learn so recently I picked up a handy sketch feature and some surfacing tips.

Other general interests outside of work?

Outside of work I like to stay active as much as possible. I’m always out on my road bike and will pick up any sport I can like cricket, tennis or footy. I’m a big Geelong Cats fan too and love to watch their matches.

I’m also into my music and am always on the hunt for new artists and live gigs.

Coolest home-brew product or project?

My bike is currently fitted out with all sorts of 3D printed accessories that I designed. I’ve made myself things like light mounts and a pump mount after getting tired of losing them to bumpy roads or thieves.

Hidden talent?

I’m a big trivia nerd so love getting stuck into the quizzes in the newspaper or trivia game shows.

What did you want to be growing up?

After realising there wasn’t much of a career in being a cowboy, I found my love for sketching and designing so rotated between wanting to be an architect or a car designer.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

I’d want to be able to teleport so I’ve got free, instant travel whenever I like.

If you could take one thing to a desert island what would it be?

Lots of sunscreen!

Best piece of advice for students looking to get in the field?

There are so many different sides of product design engineering and specialties within it so try get experience in as many as you can and then find what areas you want to master in.

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25 years anniversary

25 Year Anniversary

Cobalt’s first 25 years

This year marks 25 years since Cobalt was founded in 1996. So apart from already hoping this year will be better than 2020 (!) we are planning a number of initiatives for 2021 to mark our very own silver jubilee.

Over the last 25 years much has changed, in technology, society and of course, in design. Cobalt itself has steadily grown and renewed since ex-university friends Steve Martinuzzo and Jack Magree joined forces to create a new creative group. Now our team is much deeper and more diverse than ever, and our capacity to take on new and innovative projects at the forefront of product design has developed greatly.

Throughout the last decade we have strengthened our position within the top tier of Australian product design firms & consultancies, and increasingly we are working with global clients to undertake larger-scale projects from multinational organisations such as Heartsine, Bio-Rad, magAssist and Agilent.

By nature and profession, we are always looking ahead. But anniversaries are important occasions to stop and reflect before moving forward again.

So to preview our 25th Anniversary year, this video below features some of the amazing spectrum of projects we’ve been privileged to work on so far.

If you have any connection to these amazing projects or clients, please feel free to share this video with your colleagues or friends. And watch out for more Cobalt 25 Anniversary events during the year.

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Sir William Hudson Awards

The HP-OCT takes out Engineering Australia’s highest honour

A world-first ocular instrument, the Cylite HP-OCT has won the 2020 Sir William Hudson Award; the highest accolade an engineering project can receive from Engineers Australia.  The award was announced at the recent national Pinnacles Award Ceremony, where finalist projects, including major infrastructure, mining and transport projects from across Australia were judged.

Designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia, the HP-OCT is a cutting-edge ophthalmological instrument that overcomes issues of motion artefacts or data error resulting from patient eye movement during OCT imaging. Cobalt’s development team worked closely with Cylite to characterise the typical product usage and to develop a deep understanding of both the user’s (patient) and operator’s (clinician) needs. According to Cobalt’s project leader for this project, Kynan Taylor “ from our initial user and industrial design direction, Cobalt then engineered the device exterior through prototyping and tooling support stages, to ensure all the instrument’s touch points delivered a consistent, user-focused experience”.

Cylite’s CEO Dr Steve Frisken was excited Cylite had been awarded the national prize against a field of strong engineering projects. “I would like to personally thank each of our extraordinary team for their creativity and dedication in delivering excellence in engineering across so many fields. We are also grateful to Cobalt Design for their industrial design support and the wonderful look and feel of this innovative clinical diagnostic instrument,” he said. “These innovations will, I believe, truly have a lasting impact on global eye health, which is a legacy that will provide ongoing pride to all those involved.”

The Engineering Australia judges also praised the HP-OCT as a “remarkable piece of equipment [that] demonstrates the profound impact biomedical engineering can have on society. The equipment streamlines the screening process that currently requires several individual diagnostic devices to build a clinical picture of the patient. This enables more health professionals to routinely screen more patients across the five areas of eye conditions effecting Australians which allows for earlier diagnosis.”

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GDA Gold 2020

Cobalt wins two Gold

Cobalt is thrilled to announce that two of our recently completed projects –Bio-Rad GelDoc Go and Adaptfit Cable Trainer – have both received prestigious accolades in this year’s Australian Good Design Awards:

  • Gold Good Design Award (Medical and Scientific Category) > Bio-Rad GelDoc Go
  • Gold Good Design Award (Sport & Lifestyle Category) > AdaptFit Cable Trainer
  • Engineering Award > Bio-Rad GelDoc Go

As one of the world’s first and most respected product design awards programmes, the Australian Good Design Awards attract an international field of design firms and brands to showcase their most innovative product designs. We congratulate all of this year’s winners and entrants, who produced an outstanding calibre of design outcomes and pushed the bounds of innovation and good design.

Our clients are the real winners

While we celebrate the well deserved recognition won by these two projects, Cobalt helps all our clients achieve product success through design. The reality is some projects tend to do well in awards programmes, while others – no less commercially or strategically successful for our clients including KeepCup and Yarra Trams – for sometimes inexplicable reasons, do not. So we take this opportunity to thank all our clients regardless of whether they win a Gold Award or not, for choosing to engage Cobalt, for its only with your vision and technology that we are able to create great product designs.

Bio-Rad GelDoc Go

The GelDoc Go is the latest Bio-Rad product Cobalt has partnered with Bio-Rad. It is a new digital imaging instrument used for nucleic acid and protein analysis; designed for ease of use, safety and efficiency from the outset. Its bench top size and rapid processing speed combined with unique imaging technology allows researchers to see separated proteins in one minute, compared with 4-16 hour staining steps of competitor products. The crucial design challenge for Cobalt was to convey the product as easy to use yet, also convey that its performance was anything but insignificant – despite its compact dimensions.

Adaptfit Cable Trainer

The Adaptfit Cable Trainer compact design makes resistance and strength training readily available outside the commercial fitness environment. Its multi-use functionality provides the benefits of full body training and rehabilitation, while the innovative wall-mount design adds stability, frees up floor space and positions the trainer so that it is instantly ready for use. The sleek form was engineered by Cobalt to be unobtrusive, seamlessly integrating into any home or work space. The final design exercises a restrained approach in the form of the Adapt Cable Trainer to create simplicity that invites confidence in use.

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Amtil Buld it better

Build It Better Round 4

Build It Better Round 4 Now Open

The latest round of the AMHub ‘Build it Better’ voucher program is now open! The ‘Build It Better’ voucher program involves a grant for small to medium manufacturing businesses in Victoria looking to increase their integration of additive manufacturing. The grant provides up to $20,000 in matched funding for businesses looking to either redesign or re-engineer an existing product or for new product development that uses additive manufacturing within the process.

Cobalt is a Registered Service Provider (RSP) under the ‘Build It Better’ Voucher program. Successful applicants can use the funding for Cobalt’s development services which include design and engineering support, business case development, materials selection and/or prototyping support.

A recent project that took advantage of the Build It Better grant was development of Advatek Lighting’s PixLite LED Controllers. These new devices provide pixel-based LED control to create visually stunning pixel-mapped images and text. Partnering with Cobalt under the program enabled us to rapidly embody their unique electronics technology in a rugged, configurable and compact enclosure.

Cobalt developed the industrial design and production engineering of the range in an accelerated 4-month timeline to market entry. Additive manufacturing was used during prototyping to allow extended product testing and evaluation before the design was finalised for tooling for mass production.

Additionally, a more recent project completed under the Build It Better program was the Cobalt and GoProto developed additive adapter kits for sub-acute COVID patients. These kits convert existing and approved CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) masks and N99 filters into positive lung pressure devices – a solution for COVID patients waiting in hospital beds for ventilators. The accelerated development process as a result of the assistance and commitment from the Build it Better program to make the vouchers available fueled a concentrated effort.

Round 4 is currently open for applications, closing on Friday 16th December 2020. For more information or to confidentially discuss your idea please contact us at Cobalt on + 61 9320 2200 or email For more information on the grant or the AM hub, see here.

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Lockdown 2.0

Latest COVID-19 News

NOTE: We are regularly updating this page to keep you updated as to our status. Last updated 23 Sep 2020.

At a glance:

Cobalt is fully operational with staff mainly working-from-home (WFH) or from the office and workshop where required.

  • The Victorian government has assessed Cobalt as a ‘permitted’ business based on a number of essential projects. This allows staff to work at our office as required under COVID-Safe protocols.
  • Client work is being completed in near normal timing with all staff fully connected via virtual channels and networks.
  • All Cobalt staff have remained engaged since the start of COVID (March 2020)
  • With positive progress and COVID infection rates falling, Melbourne’s Level 4 restrictions are in the process of being wound back toward ‘COVID-Normal’.

In Detail:

Last week the Victorian Government unveiled its roadmap to returning Melbourne to ‘COVID-Normal’. After 8 weeks of tough ‘Level 4’ lockdown restrictions, the positive health statistics are a relief to many Melburnians, as well as local business and national businesses.

Fortunately for Cobalt and the nature of our design and engineering work, we have been able to successfully transition our people, processes and key equipment to a WFH arrangement. Though it took some logistics and getting used to, Cobalt is immensely proud of our team for being resilient, adaptable and discovering new ways to complete normally office-centred tasks remotely. We believe this is attributable to the team’s strong culture of clear communications, established practices and supportive teamwork. Collectively this has allowed Cobalt to continue providing exceptional work outcomes for our clients throughout this pandemic.

It’s been heartening to see the human resilience in practice through the record numbers of new enquiries we’ve had from people and businesses interested in developing new product ideas. We encourage anyone interested in new product development to get in touch with us to discuss how Cobalt can help transform your idea into reality.

We’d also like to thank our interstate and overseas clients for their good wishes and understanding, and we join with all our local community, clients and suppliers in supporting each other. Together we can, and together we will, get through this.

Related Initiatives

Following on from this, Cobalt was proud to recently launch an initiative to help boost local manufacturing. The #ManufactureAus initiative aims to strengthen and support local manufacturing capabilities against the unpredictable nature of the COVID pandemic, whereby Cobalt will give discounted design rates of 15% to approved new clients seeking to manufacture in Australia.

In particular, this includes one of our most recent projects that saw Cobalt and GoProto intensively apply their resources to find a solution for COVID patients waiting in hospital beds for ventilators. The accelerated development process included collaboration with senior ICU doctors to create specialised 3D printed adapter kits that could convert existing and approved CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) masks and N99 filters into positive lung pressure devices.

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Manufacturing Aus

Australian Manufacturing Initiative

Cobalt is proud to launch an initiative to help companies looking to use our local manufacturers. #ManufactureAUS will give approved new clients looking to manufacture in Australia, a 15% discount for Design stages.

Globalism has been getting a bad wrap of late.  Which is kind of odd, as people have been trading with their neighbours since ancient times, and without doubt global trade has resulted in more benefits than harm.

Being world class is something to which we, our clients, and our manufacturing network aspire.  At Cobalt, we’re proud of our work with US, Asian and European-based clients; who are equally driven to innovation and excellence.  But at Cobalt we also believe trade works best between parties who have their own strong base. That’s why we’ve always believed in Australian manufacturing, and how local capabilities are an essential component of global trade.

We all know that COVID’s impact has been profound, but one positive is that more people have also started to appreciate the benefits of having a capable local manufacturing base. So to encourage companies who share our passion for design and Australian manufacturing, Cobalt is proud to offer a range of incentives under our #ManufactureAUS initiative.


For approved new clients, up until 30 October 2020 Cobalt will discount up to 15% of our Design stage fees for new product development projects which:

  • Replace imported products
  • Introduce genuinely new technology/innovation that might otherwise be made overseas
  • Includes substantive local content within products designed for export

Call out

The product could be low or high tech, conceptual or near production-ready. You might be an established leader or a disruptive start up. We don’t have any preconceptions; as long as there is a desire and logic to making the product in Australia, we’d love to hear from you.

For more information or to confidentially discuss your idea please contact us at Cobalt on + 61 9320 2200 or email

Cover image kindly supplied by Gamsee Industries, just one of Australia’s worldclass injection moulding suppliers.

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Cobalt and GoProto perform under pressure

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to strain global hospital resources, the spectre of a second wave hangs over our health system. Despite our success flattening the curve in Australia, there is still a growing global concern that an abundance of ventilators is not dramatically changing the mortality rate. So in March, Cobalt led a consortium with a rapid response to aid hospital demands for alternative and innovative medical equipment that could simultaneously improve patient recovery and keep medical staff safe. The lack of available life-saving ventilators and respirators at the time was the immediate concern – driving the need for a quick turnaround and a non-mechanical solution.

Cobalt and GoProto intensively applied their resources to finding a solution for the layers of patients waiting in hospital beds for ventilators. The accelerated development process included collaboration with senior ICU doctors to create specialised 3D printed adapter kits that could convert existing and approved CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) masks and N99 filters into positive lung pressure devices. The converted CPAP masks can be used by hospital teams to treat sub-acute COVID-19 patients prior to them needing ICU ventilator treatment. This solution frees up ICU beds, limited ventilators and requires less medical staff to monitor them.

The converted CPAP masks with the 3D printed adapters’ features an oxygen feed line, so the patient receives pressurised oxygen-enriched air to their lungs whilst their exhaled air (that may contain aerosolized virus) is filtered out to protect medical staff. This type of system when applied to a sub-acute patient helps prevent the collapse of alveoli (lung air sacs needed for the intake of oxygen into the body) and aids recovery, improving the chances of avoiding incubation.

The 3D printed adapter kits are manufactured from biocompatible PA12 on HP Multi Jet Fusion printers which enables the components to be made at low cost and delivered quickly for immediate use in hospitals.  The material can be washed and sterilised.

Long-term applications for these kits can be for use as patient transfer masks or by aged care facilities here in Australia.  Our data will be made available to other countries whose hospitals are still under enormous strain or face a second wave and may need alternative recovery and treatment plans.

Cobalt was proud to have the opportunity to lead this humanitarian initiative, inspired by all the other designers, engineers and medics working under the pressure of rising patient deaths in Italy & Belgium.  The bravery and innovative thinkers of the doctors & ICU teams at the COVID Hub at Sunshine Hospital and all hospital staff across the Australia continues to energise our passion to help.

Particular thanks to the proactive support of AMTIL and the Advance Manufacturing Hub for the assistance on the project.  Their urgency and commitment to make available a Build it Better voucher fuelled a concentrated effort. We are also grateful for the liaison and knowledge sharing  of Dr Carl Le from Supercars headquarters and Barry Ryan from Erebus Medical who are also refining a number of medical products to help fill the void of PPE to protect medical staff from the virus.

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Electronics Service

Cobalt’s Electronics Capabilities

Built-in Electronics

Electronics are an integral part of everyday life – from the smartphone in your pocket, to the cars we drive; electronics are intertwined in almost everything we do. The same can be said for new product design, as electronics and their integration within physical products is a huge part of modern product development. Reflecting this, Cobalt is pleased to announce we have recently added electronics design to our development capabilities.

Our approach to electronics design and engineering builds on 25 years of new product development experience. Most of the 1200 products, devices and instruments projects we’ve developed over this time, feature electronics – so we are no strangers to integrating both into highly functional and beautifully resolved products.

According to Warwick Brown, Cobalt’s Chief of Engineering, “The addition of in-house electronics design allows us to better integrate and complement clients who have their own electronics resources; or to provide a one-stop-shop for clients without their own electronics development capabilities”.

Cobalt can support all your electronics development needs, from initial technology feasibility studies to custom electronics design and PCB development, prototyping, testing and assistance with transfer to manufacture.

Leveraged from NPD experience

Cobalt has successfully developed many electronic products in the past, across a range of sectors including consumer, medical, scientific, industrial and agri-tech. The featured electronics (including power electronics, LEDs, lighting, RF and wireless communication) were developed by our clients or specialist electronic development groups.  Therefore, we understand the importance of upholding stringent standards, to ensure both compliance and safety requirements are met, but to also ensure a high performance, functional and cost-effective solution is achieved. Having our own in-house electronics capabilities will further strengthen our integrated approach.

To complement our internal capabilities, Cobalt has strong relationships with a number of electronics specialists who can assist with specific expertise, technology or capabilities when needed. We also have links with several key factories and suppliers in Southeast Asia and can assist with sourcing and manufacture of prototypes. This ensures that no matter what the application, Cobalt can provide expert advice to ensure your project will succeed in today’s technology driven marketplace.

Get in touch to discuss your new product idea or to find out more about our current capabilities.

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COVID-19 Update

Seriously Resilient – An important message from Cobalt

It’s clear that COVID-19’s social and economic impact is already massive. Our thoughts are with those close to us, as well as those hit harder elsewhere.

We understand that this crisis will undoubtedly cause distress to our team, clients, colleagues and suppliers; ultimately flowing onto individuals and families. In times like these it’s important to be aware of others who may be struggling more than us. Through being calmly positive; and by planning for the worse while working for the future; we are sure our collective resilience will prevail.

Although Cobalt are not a front line service in fighting this COVID-19 virus or saving lives, we believe we can contribute our part by striving to act as responsibly as possible, and supporting those who are able to administer medical attention in what will be overwhelming circumstances. So if there is anything we can do to support you, your business or collaborate on a project which tangibly relieves the current situation, please reach out.

At Cobalt, we will be remaining open and fully operational. Although the bulk of our team are working from home (WFH), a limited number of staff needing to work in the office and workshop has allowed us to keep the office attended. All our designers and engineers have set-up WFH workstations with full access to our normal design/CAD software.

This means with our range of collaboration and IT systems in place, we’re able to continue our full range of team-based product development services for our clients.

Our Principals and Project Leaders will be available as usual via phone or email. Feel free to contact Cobalt about how the current situation may be affecting you, your business or your future plans.

From everyone at Cobalt, we hope that you and your loved ones stay safe and remain in good health.

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