payment supplier code

Supplier Payment Code

Australian Supplier Payment Code

As a small business, Cobalt has always seen the importance in paying suppliers on time. It’s not only fair, but also drives productivity and keeps business relationships strong. For many years we have operated by these beliefs, and therefore it was easy to become proud foundation members of the Australian Supplier Payment Code (ASPC). We are proud to be named alongside other big signatories such as Commonwealth Bank, Aldi, Australia Post and the Victorian Government. View all the signatories here.

To keep our projects running smoothly, Cobalt relies on products and services from a multitude of small businesses. These suppliers help us reliably deliver high performance design services to our local and international clients. Having ourselves started from humble beginnings almost 25 years ago, we understand that managing cash flow and getting paid on time are the top priorities for small business owners.

By putting our name to the Australia Supplier Payment Code, we’re committing to transparent and fair payment practices. The code is a voluntary, industry-led initiative launched by the Business Council of Australia that protects the importance of prompt and on-time payment for suppliers through a set of best practice standards.

As a ASPC signatory, Cobalt commits to a number of payment policies;

  • Paying correct invoices from suppliers on time or within 30 days.
  • Providing clear guidance to suppliers about our payment procedures.
  • Where practicable and agreed, appling technologies to speed up invoice reconciliation, approval and payment processes.
  • Putting in place clear, fair and efficient processes for dealing with complaints and disputes about payments.

The code has been in effect for over two years and continues to grow with over 110 signatories. And we hope this initiative is replicated by our own clients payment practices. And to help remind them, Cobalt invoices will now feature the ASPC logo.

Read more about the ASPC and eligibility here.

View our other policies, including our confidentiality and privacy policies here.

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Recycling Victoria

It’s not rubbish – The case for a design-led approach to recycling

The Victorian Government has just announced that one million households across 46 councils will now have four kerbside bins by next year, as part of its plan to reduce waste going to landfill by 80% over the next decade. The new bins will separate regular recycling, food and garden waste, household waste and now glass recycling.

In response to the collapse of local recyclers and overseas channels, in 2019 Infrastructure Victoria commissioned a report on the state’s recycling system. Cobalt submitted a response to the interim version of this report arguing the case for a design-lead user insights exercise to bring together key industry and government stakeholders around end-users’ needs.

Cobalt welcomes the direction of the announced initiative, while noting it is still only a plan.  We believe people are ready to do more in terms of recycling. For example, we noticed this trend in our design research, and more tangibly from our clients, who in turn are responding to end-users preferences toward more sustainable products.

What will be critical to the initiative’s success however is how it is rolled out across homes. Therefore, Cobalt sees the next steps being to gather and integrate user and stakeholder needs. We know local councils, government and industry will have well-articulated needs, so our focus would be on uncovering the diverse needs of the Victorian public.

Capturing the insights of everyday people will enable the delivery of a implementable system that is truly embraced, rather than begrudgingly used.

The main considerations of a human centred design approach should revolve around:

  • How Victorians across different household, profiles, locations and councils and municipalities currently manage their waste and recyclables
  • Uncovering the personal motivations, barriers, deterrents, and drivers behind the public’s recycling habits to understand how best to implement any collection process
  • Uncovering all relevant stakeholder’s unarticulated needs, concerns and potential misconceptions of how waste should be managed at each stage of the recycling process

We look forward to seeing Victoria’s recycling habits improve through this new initiative, so long as the end result can be sustained long-term and the needs of the end-users are championed in the process. Regardless, the initiative is a positive move in the right direction and provides solid groundwork for resource recovery in Victoria.

Read Cobalt’s full published response to Infrastructure Victoria’s initial interim findings here.

Images in this article sourced from and accredited to:

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Advatek - Build It Better

Building it Better with Advatek Lighting and AM Hub

Lighting company Advatek wanted a new generation of their PixLite controller, and partnered with Cobalt to rapidly embody their unique technology in a rugged, configurable and compact body. Cobalt developed the industrial design and production engineering of the range working in close collaboration resulting in an accelerated 4-month timeline to market entry.

The DfAM (Design for Additive Manufacturing) process fast tracked the engineering stages due to product testing and functional reviews being able to be applied to additive manufactured assemblies.  This accelerated program was made possible by Advatek contracting Cobalt as a registered Service provider under the ‘Build It Better’ Voucher program, established by the AMTIL AM Hub.

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 these businesses looking to redesign or re-engineer an existing product or create a new one. The funding can be applied toward design expertise, engineering support, business case development, materials selection and/or prototyping support.

In any fast-paced product development, rapid prototyping and iterative sketching are critical validation tools. The exceptionally compressed time frame demands of our project for Advatek were made possible by Cobalt utilising a Design for Additive Manufacture (DfAM) workflow throughout our engineering programme, while facilitating standard injection moulding constraints, such as draft and wall thickness. The Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) process was used for product trials and pilot volume market entry, and seamlessly transitioned to injection moulding for high volume production.

The result significantly upgrades Advatek Lighting’s product design presence and will underpin its global expansion within this specialised, but growing field of large-format LED lighting installation. View our case study here.

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Team Spotlight: CPL

Team Spotlight: Carla Pelligra / Product Design Engineering Intern

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 Carla Pelligra, our new engineering IBL for 2020.

Carla began studying PDE at Swinburne University in 2017, and is now embarking on a IBL placement at Cobalt as she enters her fourth year of study. But what else is there to Carla?

Favourite part of studying PDE so far?

I love how I get to design and create a product from scratch. The feeling of holding a physical product or idea that came to fruition and you can say ‘I made this is’, is amazing.

Niftiest thing you’ve learnt at Cobalt recently?

I have only been at Cobalt for less than a week but I am currently learning how to efficiently and properly use Solid Works, including the do’s and don’ts which I am really keen to learn.

Other general interests outside of work?

I play senior soccer for Keilor Park, which allows me to have my consistent dose of Nutella and not feel as guilty about it. I also play the violin and piano, so I love to jump on the instruments when I get a chance and create songs. I love watching the footy so I can’t wait for the season to start again, and I’m a sucker for sunsets, so I love taking photos of it! I also love getting out and about in the garden; nature makes me happy 🙂

Coolest home-brew product or project?

I guess the coolest home brew product that I’ve made would be a coffee table made out of steel and wood, which our TV now sits on.

Hidden talent?

I can actually water divine, so using two L-shaped metal rods I can find water… I know this sounds bizarre but I’ve tested it multiple times and it just works for me.  Also I’m pretty good at Mario kart, not going to lie.

What did you want to be growing up?

I really wanted to be a spy for a while (I’m not joking), but then afterwards I loved writing stories; so I think a fictional writer would have suited me well.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

To travel in space with no need for a spacesuit and to do this faster than the speed of light. That way I can explore galaxies, planets, stars and see events that are happening light years away (and I guess see if there is other life out there!).

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

I would have to bring my dog Charlie!

Best piece of advice for other students?

Keep exploring things that you are passionate or curious about. Ask heaps of questions and don’t be afraid to ask ones that you think may be silly; otherwise you will never get an answer. There have been times in the past where I didn’t ask questions out of fear of looking dumb, but we can’t know everything and we are always learning so don’t be scared.

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Product Design and Sustainability TB

Cobalt’s work for KeepCup case studied in international textbook

At Cobalt we believe design should improve the world we live in. Following sustainable practices, engaging in socially responsible design and using our technical know-how helps us solve these practical design problems.

Sharing our experience and helping to educate in design and sustainability are some of the ways we can make a positive impact.

Recently, UK-based author Jane Penty invited Cobalt Principal Steve Martinuzzo to contribute to her new textbook Product Design and Sustainability (Strategies, Tools and Practice, 1st Edition), aimed at design students, practitioners and educators. In the textbook, Penty writes on the principles of sustainability, the integration of sustainable strategies in design practices and introduces a diverse range of social, economic and environmental design tools.

According to Steve “it was an honour to be involved in this book, especially as Jane wanted to use real projects as case studies, and practical educational resources for sustainable design are still quite uncommon”.

Topics covered in include how our research and insights guided the final design, and what techniques were used to overcome obstacles for changing consumer behaviours; from disposable to reusable. “Changing behaviours was our biggest challenge and in the end, our greatest sense of achievement”. Focussing on deeper user empathy, barista experience and adding unique value to the reusable coffee cup experience ultimately led us to a design that not only allows KeepCup owners to express themselves through their choice of colours and materials, but also use a reusable cup that is as functional as it is beautiful.

As a final takeaway, in the book Steve says he believes “more and more clients will genuinely care about products that reduce – rather than add – to the problems of waste, excess and social exclusion.”

Product Design and Sustainability by Jane Penty is now a globally prescribed text book across a number of Architecture and Product Design tertiary subjects. It is available for purchase here.

Information sourced from © Routledge 2019. Product Design and Sustainability (Strategies, Tools and Practice, 1st Edition) by Jane Penty.

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Cobalt Fire Initiative

The Cobalt Fire Initiative

Cobalt stands with Australia. Cobalt stands for innovation.

Like people everywhere, we’ve been watching in dismay as Australian communities, lives and wildlife have been consumed by the on going fires. We extend our sympathy and thoughts to all those personally affected. And we want to help.

Coming together as a team after our Christmas leave, we’ve thought of how we can best contribute to rebuilding what we can, and better protecting ourselves from future fire emergencies. Our team agreed that we could offer more than a purely financial contribution; we wanted to help by doing what we do best. So here’s our response; the Cobalt Fire Initiative.


Cobalt and our staff will contribute up to $50,000 in pro bono fees on a dollar-for-dollar basis of an agreed new product development project/s related to:

  • Bushfire detection
  • Fire fighting
  • Rural community rebuilding

So we are calling for innovative companies, be they established or start-ups (local or multinational), to partner with us and combine their technology with our user centred design and production engineering know how to create tangible products that will make a real difference to people. We have no pre-conceptions about the technologies or product idea as our only measure will be the project’s ability to make a positive difference.

Therefore, the idea could be low or high tech; conceptual or near-production ready. The following are just some examples, and we remain open to all suitable ideas from genuine clients:

  • IoT deployable smoke sensing pods
  • Adaptions to fire vehicles or fittings that improve operational effectiveness or safety
  • Products or systems that increase the ability of homes or buildings to withstand fire

We’d love to hear more ideas. For more information or to confidentially discuss your idea, please contact us at Cobalt on +61 3 9320 2200, or email

Image courtesy of:

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Green and Clean

Cobalt Goes Green and Clean in 2019

2019 brought along a myriad of upgrades within Cobalt; enabling us to better respond to our clients, increase work efficiency and freshen up our studio’s design. From solar panels to new software, we head into into 2020 full tuned.

Our upgrades began earlier in the year with a major eco overhaul. Sparked by our belief that design should be socially responsible, we had long wanted our building to have as small an environmental footprint as possible. Our North Melbourne office now proudly sports a 12kw, 39 panel array of solar panels, an ultra-efficient HVAC system, extensive sealing and insulation works and new LED lighting throughout the building.  These works have already effectively reduced our daily energy consumption by up to 45%, and we are on track to exceed our original target of being 50% self-sufficient in power. This was all made possible by our collaborations with Sustainable Australia Fund and GenesisNow, who enabled us to rise above the previous hurdles we had faced with our building’s location and infrastructure.

Apart from lower environmental impact and power bills, the result of our eco upgrade is greater comfort, better lighting with the consensus from our team being overwhelmingly positive.

Once our major energy efficiency upgrade had been completed, it was time for the front-of-house to receive its overdue refresh. Our reception area had been an interim measure for far too long – project work always taking precedence. Additionally, the need to accommodate more staff in 2019 was what ultimately compelled us to upgrade the front end of our office.

The vision was simple – keep it clean, modern and undeniably Cobalt. After a rapid three week facelift, the space was transformed from simply serviceable to inspiring. Each element was carefully considered to ensure visual harmony, continuity and a seamless transition from old to new. Driven by our team members Mark, Len and Nathan, the biggest change was the relocation and re-design of the main reception desk. The ‘hello desk’ now corners off a new hub, housing the admin and marketing team together for boosted efficiency.  The smarter use of the space also enables us to accommodate 2-3 more staff, with better storage and access across the office.

But perhaps the most striking element of the renovation is the new feature wall created by Len. Covered in a 3.2m wide custom perforated metal panel, a bold first impression is created as visitors ascend the staircase from our lower level. Built into the wall is a backlit ‘Cobalt’ sign, in which we have the ability to dictate the colour, brightness and speed of the transitions at the touch of a button. Better yet, above is a cut-out of our logo with an LCD monitor behind.  Through the day this gives us the unique ability to display a countless number of visual references and textures that influence our work.

Updating our office in 2019 has been great opportunity to also shuffle the team around into a new layout, ultimately increasing productivity within project teams and prompted our staff to collaborate with new people.

We were blown away with the time and effort our team put into the renovation, with a special mention to Mark (for spending a big portion of his own time on the project), Len (for bringing our vision to life) and Nathan (for coming back to help us out).  

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Boost Your Business 2019 R4

Round 4 Boost Your Business Vouchers Now Open!

Boost Your Business (BYB) is a Victorian program supporting businesses to become more productive, employ more people, improve export and profitability. Round 4 is now open.

The BYB initiative targets small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) who are on a growth trajectory and want to implement a project that meet’s the program’s criteria. ‘Vouchers’ or blocks of funding are provided that can be put towards a number of specialised services, including product development.

Cobalt is a Registered Service Provider for the BYB program under the Advanced Manufacturing Voucher Stream. Under this program, eligible projects receive matched funding to cover development activities up to a maximum of $50,000.

This means that if your business is eligible to receive a Voucher from the Victorian Government, you can put that funding towards accessing Cobalt’s 20+ years of industry expertise in product development. Using the funding Cobalt can help commercialise your product with:

  • Product design and engineering
  • Small volume production
  • Product testing, validation, prototyping and verification
  • Conduct research and development activities

In a previous round, Cobalt worked with BMPRO to design their new line of recreational vehicle (RV) power management systems and battery chargers. Securing this incentive provided a considerable boost to the project, allowing BMPRO to fast-track development and capitalise on the opportunity to expand  into the US market. Read more about the project here.

To showcase this project and BYB, Cobalt’s animation team have created an informational video below.

Applications for Round 4 of BYB close Sunday 22 December 2019. 

Naturally, as with any government program, terms, conditions and criteria apply, which you can read more about on their website here. In summary; if you’re a small business looking for product design excellence, Cobalt can help (along with a boost courtesy of the Victorian Government).

Interested? Then be quick! The fourth round of the voucher offers ends on Sunday the 22nd of Dec 2019. Get started with LaunchPad, or give us a call on (03) 9320 2230 so we can help give you the boost you need.

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Team Spotlight: MMF

Team Spotlight: Mark Matthews-Frederick / Senior Project Leader

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 how they each tick.

Our very first spotlight is on Mark Matthews-Frederick, one of our Senior Project Leaders in the Design Team. Since 2015, Mark has progressed his career at Cobalt from Industrial Designer to Senior Project Leader, acting also as the Design Team Resource Manager.

During his time at Cobalt Mark has lead, project managed and designed for some of our largest automotive projects to date, including the third generation Victoria Police ADT “Booze Bus”, BIS Industries Mining dump truck and Mobile Info Hub Van for the West Gate Tunnel Project. Mark has also been a contributing designer for multiple other projects across medical devices, consumer and sustainability products. But what else is there to Mark?

What was your experience before Cobalt?

I started out designing trains and trams for Bombardier Transportation (which was great experience) before going to Germany and working in the automotive industry for a couple of years. The highlight was being part of the interior design team for Bugatti and working on some really amazing cars. I’ve also designed a bunch of bike parts for Australian BMX companies Colony BMX and Division Brand. Cobalt has been a great next step in further developing my knowledge and design skills in a broad range of industries, user groups, materials and manufacturing techniques.

What’s the niftiest thing you’ve learnt at Cobalt recently?

I am constantly learning new tricks for Photoshop sketching/rendering from our gun designers Graeme Marshall and Andrew Fanning. Recently it has been some techniques with masks and smart objects.

Other general interests outside of work?

Bikes (all types of cycling but BMX is still my real passion); cricket and plenty of other sports; and music is an important part of my life as well (DJ-ing and production of sample-based house/disco type stuff, as well as collecting vinyl and discovering gems from all styles from the 70s and 80s).

Coolest home-brew product or project?

Nothing too original or ‘cool’ I guess, but I’ve built a few steel frame BMX bike ramps (tallest one was about 6 foot tall) that have stood the test of time pretty well. And speaking of BMX, I should also mention the many bikes; as well as acres of bike tracks and dirt jumps I have built (with only a shovel!) over the years.

So you just completed a half marathon?

My partner Megan is a good runner; she’s done a couple of half-marathons in the past and was keen for the rather tough run up kunanyi (Mt Wellington) out of Hobart. I am by no means a runner, but always up for a physical challenge so I agreed… I did survive though, and it was good fun. Megan and I ran together for the first 15km or so, but after that I couldn’t keep up with her any more – she ended up beating me by about 5 minutes by the end!

Hidden talent?

I still enjoy drawing quite a lot, but these days I don’t get the chance too often – except for when my ‘creative director’ (Megan) has an idea for her friends’/relatives’ birthday cards that she would like to see come to fruition… So I guess the hidden talent could be referred to as ‘birthday-card-art’?

What did you want to be growing up?

I always loved drawing cars, bikes, planes, etc. and I can remember when my grandfather told me about Industrial Design. I would have been 10 or 12 years old, and from then on I knew that was for me. But, when I was really young, I wanted to be a garbage man because that would mean I could get up really early and be out working in the dark – this seemed so romantic at the time…

If you had one superpower what would it be?

I know everyone says it, but being able to fly would just be so much fun!

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

My vintage pair of red Oakley Eyeshades. It’s important to protect one’s eyes when stranded on a desert island, and also important to look good while doing so.

Best piece of advice for young designers?

Keep sketching! A good product sketch can do many things – communicate form, communicate function, highlight important details or portray emotion – or all of these things, often without even needing a high degree of realism. Nothing grabs my attention more than a great sketch.

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Dermapen 4 featured on 10

Dermapen 4 design featured on Channel 10 – Australia by Design: Innovations

Winner of a 2018 Good Design Award and a finalist in the Premiers Design Awards, the Dermapen 4 (DP4) has set an outstanding new benchmark in dermatology. As the only digital, vertical micro-needling device in the world it was fitting to be featured in the ‘Australia By Design – Innovations’ television series on Channel 10.

In the segment, Dermapenworld CEO Stene Marshall demonstrates that the DP4 is a leader in med-tech innovation. Oscillating its 16 needles at 120 times per second, the device improves the efficacy of skin treatments and resolves traditional handling and calibration limitations faced by other devices. Its increased effectiveness in drawing collagen to the skin surface means a wider range of skin issues can be treated, including scars. It can be used for both cosmetic and plastic surgery treatments.

Cobalt designed the DP4’s form to be truly ergonomic. Its large graphic user interface (GUI), angled head and cordless operation ensure balanced and secure handling. The world-first dual seal cartridge also prevents fluid entering the pen internally and externally, strongly reducing the risk of cross contamination.

Uniquely, the DP4 speed and depth is adjusted electronically via buttons and it’s the first micro-needling device with automatic calibration. This ensures optimal and accurate needle depth for each patient, skin surface and type of treatment. Additionally, the buttons allow for greater interaction through gloves or hygiene sleeves. Other micro-needling devices on the market require manual operation for depth adjustment, usually by turning a dial. This alone is problematic, as incorrectly set needles can cause unwanted damage to the skin.

Dermapen wanted more than simply a ‘new iteration’ of their market leading products. With rising pressure from their competitors, they wanted to raise the bar for micro-needling tech, positioning themselves ahead of the crowded market they created — and with a little help from Cobalt, the DP4 has become the new industry standard.

Watch a snippet of the Dermapen segment below or see the full episode here.

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