Founded in 1990 by Chris Samwell, Bluefrog Design serves a wide range of industries including consumer goods, packaging, transportation and medical. Although its clients’ specialities are very diverse, they all look to Bluefrog for innovation.

“Our clients approach us to bring their ideas to life, and to solve problems in ways they hadn’t considered possible,” Samwell explains. “Prototyping is essential to our business, as it proves to clients that our designs are viable. However, when producing these prototypes with traditional methods, we were not only constrained by time and cost, but also increasingly felt the prototypes often lacked the realism our clients demanded.”

Bluefrog needed the freedom to escape traditional design constraints at every stage of product development. It needed to produce fully functional, advanced prototypes with industry-recognised, engineering-grade materials. In a quest to find a solution, the team turned to additive manufacturing.

Bluefrog’s versatility is best exemplified by its ability to solve seemingly insurmountable challenges. The team was recently approached by a young man suffering from paraesthesia, a condition that causes inexplicable burning, tingling or prickling across the skin. The only way to ease his pain was to ensure that his clothes touched his skin as little as possible. Despite interventions from doctors, no solution had been found. It was clear to Samwell the patient could benefit from a custom device he could wear with minimal skin contact that would also minimise his skin’s contact with clothing. The device had to be customised to his body, resting only on areas not affected by his condition.

Bluefrog’s team knew this case required a realistic prototype and final product in as little time as possible. They began by creating a complex 3D scan of the patient’s body, which was converted into a 3D-printed prototype on their Stratasys FDM 3D printer. Once tested and modified, the final version was produced in tough, medical-grade ABSPlus material, chosen thanks to its stability over time. Due to the round-the-clock capability of the Fortus 3D printer, this process took just three days, a dramatic turnaround for a patient who had been suffering for years.

Thanks to the 3D scan of the patient’s body, the team could isolate areas of his chest unaffected by paraesthesia, and determine where on the body the device could be hung. Given that the device would need to be worn every day, they also needed to consider its exact weight and shape. It needed to be organic, easy-to-wear and completely personalised.

“Stratasys additive manufacturing offered us the ability to create a lattice-based design with minimal fuss,” says Samwell. “We were able to reduce the weight of the device even further and save up to 60% of the material that traditional production methods would consume. From testing through to the final part, Stratasys additive manufacturing enabled us to control and optimise the design. We would not have been able to create such a high-performing, unique solution without it.