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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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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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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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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caravan

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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