Archive for May, 2015


3D Printing’s Future: Rooted in Healthcare

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

3D printing is so much more than a technology; it’s a complex platform with applications that affect supply chain, manufacturing processes, regulation, and really the entire product development process. To capture the latest trends and technologies, Worrell attended and spoke at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York City, where leading scientists and innovators presented on all things happening at the intersection of 3D printing and healthcare. With all of the topics covered at the conference, we’ve highlighted the key quotes and takeaways that are likely to influence your business.


In the healthcare industry, the price point and value proposition support mass customization via 3D printing. As a result, we can now move beyond expensive Lamborghini healthcare products to customized devices priced at a fraction of traditional costs. Healthcare is no longer the hospital on the hill but a future where customization is both accessible and cost-effective for every patient.


Similar to the digitization of the music industry, 3D printing software and hardware will enable droves of users to access products that were at one time only available via traditional retail channels, potentially leading to a Napster-like era of pirating physical goods. Eventually, the market will mature and we’ll see secure and verified streaming of physical products ”like the iTunes of 3D printing” where users are able to download and print products from their favorite brands.


3D printing can exponentially accelerate medical device development. In one case, Dr. Hollister and his team met with a surgeon on Wednesday, 3D printed a trachea implant on Thursday and delivered it on Friday. The surgery took place the following week. In other words, time saved using 3D printing can literally save lives.


There’s a lot of hype about 3D printers, and we won’t deny our own obsession with these machines, but we can’t forget about the importance of the materials that make this technology relevant to the healthcare space. Until printed materials compete with their production-quality counterparts, we will be stuck merely replicating shapes, rather than offering high-quality, life-saving medical devices to patients and providers at a competitive price.


Scientific advances that challenge the FDA are not new; gene therapy, stem cells, mobile health applications and biosimilars are examples of innovations that have all endured the regulatory process. As 3D printed medical devices gain FDA clearance, it will be easier for other medical applications to follow.


One of the fascinating aspects of 3D printing is its ability to decentralize production, empowering individuals and communities ”in all corners of the globe” to take charge of their own health outcomes. We are entering a new era, not just of crowd-sourced humanitarianism via 3D printing, but citizen-driven science and medicine.

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Posted in 3D Printing, Design, Emerging Technologies, Healthcare | No Comments »

Tuning in to Kids

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota are run by some of the worlds most renowned pediatric specialists in the world, and are known for their uncommon attention to patient and family experience. Worrell has a history of working with the hospital on special projects that improve care, but to date has never had a project commissioned by a 13-year-old. Mason Stoltz turned an Eagle Scout Project into a full-blown re-invention of Children’s Hospital’s Music Therapy program and captured backing from Children’s, Best Buy and a team of Worrell’s designers.

Music Therapy is a well-studied practice, made up of credentialed therapists who use songs, instruments, and movement as the catalyst for healing and therapy. In the last 30 years, it has demonstrated the ability to improve healthcare outcomes while creating measurable gains in patient satisfaction surveys.

For his project, Mason, a member of Children’s Hospital’s Youth Advisory Council, transformed a personal experience with music therapists – his younger sister had two significant encounters at the hospital – into a well-articulated PowerPoint presentation shared with the Children’s executives. In it, Mason laid out a vision to reimagine the music carts and tools commonly used by the music therapists. Children’s paired his vision with community support, which began with a financial donation from Best Buy paying for the cart’s materials and electronics. Worrell donated all of the research, product design, and engineering, as well as built the carts for both the Minneapolis and St. Paul hospitals.

By including Mason in the steps of the product development process, Worrell’s design team learned to create through the eyes of a child. The result was something special – an elegant cart, a stronger Music Therapy program, and a new model for design collaborations in healthcare where the child’s experience influences the entire design process.

Posted in Design, Healthcare, Prototyping, Video | No Comments »

Model Learning

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Worrell Design founder Bob Worrell shares insights on how behavioral models and rapid prototyping inform a design process that is iterative and consumer-focused to creatively solve problems.

Posted in Industrial Design, Prototyping, Video | No Comments »

Show, Don’t Tell – Why We Storyboard in the Concept Development Process

Friday, May 8th, 2015

You know the look, the “I have no idea what you are talking about” look on your coworker’s face as you explain a new idea or product concept. It’s not your fault; the majority of people are visual learners, meaning they won’t fully grasp something until they see it. The good news is that there are a number of tricks for putting pen to paper, many of which are possible even for those without years of sketching experience. Here are three reasons we favor the storyboard as a means to visually explain a concept.


Illustrates an idea within the context of the bigger picture
Storyboarding is storytelling. We often sketch products for our clients, but a storyboard goes far beyond the actual product to examine the entire user experience. It describes the problem, illustrates the process and concludes with solutions and benefits—happily ever after. At the same time, a storyboard helps separate concepts from details. It’s easy to get caught up in things like material finishes and colors, but a storyboard keeps the focus on the big picture.

Allows for valuable input early in the development cycle
Sketching a storyboard is a low-risk activity; nothing is permanent, which naturally invites constructive feedback from everyone involved in the decision making process. When a course correction is needed, it’s easy to sketch revisions, rather than spending hours reformatting digital assets.


Promotes understanding and buy-in from multiple stakeholders
Storyboards provide a common visual language that people from different backgrounds can see and easily understand; if done correctly, no technical degrees are required. Since storyboards speak to a broad audience, they are an effective tool for pitching investors, applying for grants, seeking FDA approval and/or obtaining internal buy-in from colleagues.

Posted in Design, Healthcare, Industrial Design, Process, Storyboarding | No Comments »

Ten Tips for Designing an Innovative Workspace

Friday, May 8th, 2015

If nearly 40 years of experience has taught us anything, it is that space matters. After reaching that delicate balance of form and function, made evident by the continued innovations that occur here daily, we now share with you Worrell’s 10 Tips for Creative Workspaces.


It’s called the Medici Effect – a phenomenon that occurs when individuals from diverse fields come together in one location to collaborate and pursue new ideas. By officing near other artists, makers, builders and more, you’re establishing a dynamic environment that breeds creative inspiration.


Get More Out of Everything

Get More Out of Everything
Creative workspaces are fluid and adjust to the needs of every need or situation. Features that serve multiple purposes, like moveable pegboards and white wall partitions enable ideation to take place in any space at any time. Glass walls can also serve dual purposes; they create privacy for certain meetings, while functioning as a place to sketch ideas and stick Post-its, not to mention they also look cool.


Put Your Trophies on Display
Put your Trophies on Display
Product development is incredibly challenging, therefore it’s important to celebrate when it’s gone well. True, it’s so anti-Minnesotan, but having a gallery provides an opportunity to tell others about your successes. It also serves as a source of pride and motivation for the people that day in and day out need to be reminded of their greatest efforts.


Give your Carpenters a Hammer
Bringing technology and tools in-house—like 3D printers, CNC machines, table saws injection molds, etc. — allows your people to see, touch, test and experience their concepts in real-time. With each tool you add, you introduce a new way to build something.


Don’t Forget about Recess
Epic Ping-Pong or foosball battles provide a much-needed opportunity to decompress. And you never know, maybe by moving the body you’ll shake lose the mental block that was inhibiting your creative juices from flowing.


Practice an Open Door Policy
Create (lots of) room for having people over. If you do, you’ll realize that dedicated spaces for gathering give partners, clients and the broader community an opportunity to meet and share ideas, ultimately fostering better relationships and more innovation.


Create Spaces for Discovery
Every mad scientist needs a lab. Labs enable tangible and hands-on learning experiences, they encourage idea sharing and experimentation and they are stocked with seemingly unrelated resources that when combined can form new things (think whiteboards, glue-guns, sewing machines and Post-its).


Give People a Place to Hangout
You know that friend who had the pool in high school? Yeah, people like spending time with their friends in fun spaces. By creating comfortable common spaces, such as bars, kitchens and couches, you’ll invite the ingredients necessary to turn mundane working relationships into meaningful friendships, which are a sign of a healthy organization.


Seating Arrangements
Seating Arrangements are not an Afterthought
The location of staff and the distances between them should be carefully considered. Arrange yourselves in clusters of expertise; this helps people who do the same task get their questions answered quickly. But, place buckets of expertise adjacent to the functions just ahead and just behind them in a common workflow; this encourages collaboration, while influencing each team to consider the needs of the other functions.


Let the Sun Shine In
Natural light improves quality of life and heightens productivity. Make sure to utilize windows and position desks strategically to ensure that natural light reaches all workspaces, or, if necessary, blast a hole through your wall.

Posted in Collaboration, Culture, Design, Designing Spaces | No Comments »

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