Build It Better Round 3

Build It Better Round 3 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 3 is currently open for applications, closing on Friday 4th September 2020. For more information or to confidentially discuss your idea please contact us at Cobalt on + 61 9320 2200 or email sales@cobaltdesign.co. 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.

Details

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 sales@cobaltdesign.co.

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

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Farnsy

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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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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advatek

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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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.

Details

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 sales@cobaltdesign.co

Image courtesy of: https://www.scienceimage.csiro.au/image/10646

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