Improving women’s lives through smarter technology
Elvie was founded in 2013 by Tania Boler with the mission to improve women’s lives through smarter technology. Tania wanted to develop meaningful products to help support women, particularly new mothers.
As a result, the company approaches problems as women and solves them as engineers, scientists and designers, creating new products and solutions.
Elvie Pump – the vision
Having achieved success with Elvie Trainer, an award-winning Kegel training device for a strong pelvic floor, Elvie focused its attention on the development of a new product: Elvie Pump.
The Elvie team interviewed many women to find out what was missing from existing breast pumps. The results enabled Elvie to re-imagine what a breast pump that would fit into the busy life of a breast-feeding mum should do.
The findings showed that mums wanted a device which was silent and discrete, truly hands-free and that could be used at home, at work or on-the-go.
The team imagined an all-in-one, rechargeable device without wires or hoses, where the milk-collecting elements of the pump were removable so they may be sterilised. The pump would need to be compact and shaped in such a way so that it would discretely fit inside a maternity bra. This design feature would mean the pump would work hands-free.
With a clear, research-based vision for the product, Elvie set about creating a dumb block model from sketches to validate this vision.
Prototyping Elvie Pump
Moving through the product development stages, Elvie worked with Prototype Projects on three iterations. The first prototype was a limited function prototype, which would enable basic testing of the new technologies and of the seal to ensure pressure would be maintained during pumping.
As the product would be coming into contact with the body and breast milk, it was important to ensure the device complied with USP Class IV certifications.
Using Prototype Projects’ dedicated SLA machine, which is used to create medical and drug delivery devices only, the second prototype was built using a mixture of SLS PA Nylon, SLA Accura Xtreme and SLA Accura ClearVue technologies and materials.
This prototype was used to develop the size and shape and ensure functionality. It was left with trial users for a two-week test period
The final prototype was used to cross check the design with the original vision and further refine pumping efficiency. This prototype was also used in conversations with mass-manufacturing partners before moving to the engineering build stages.
Speed and quality
Adam Rollo, Head of R&D, began working for Elvie in 2016. Having previously worked with Prototype Projects while employed by Shark Ninja, Adam obtained quotes from Prototype Projects and competitors. He evaluated the quotes for price, speed and quality. Prototype Projects was subsequently appointed.
“At one stage we needed 15 prototypes at once for an extensive user trial. Prototype Projects’ next day dispatch was incredibly valuable during this stage as the fast turnaround times provided us with great flexibility so we could manage deadlines.”
The finished Elvie Pump is now available to buy as a single or double pump kit. It is hands-free, silent and worn discretely inside a standard nursing bra.
The device can be controlled by an app, developed by Elvie, which records how much milk has been pumped and the frequency of pumping. The device is responsive and so, working with the app, it can switch off automatically.
“The quality of the parts we received from Prototype Projects was to spec, meaning we had no nasty surprises. The Haribo’s in the delivery boxes are always a great reward at the end of each prototyping stage!
“We are working with Prototype Projects again on our next project which is a testament as to the high quality of parts and great customer service we receive.”
Ready to start your next prototype project?
Prototype Projects is a UK-based prototyping bureau delivering high-quality prototype parts in fast turnaround times.
We offer a next day dispatch service for SLA, SLS, FDM, Polyjet and Figure 4 3D printed parts. Use our My 3D AM service for online SLS and SLA 3D printing instant quoting and ordering for additive manufacturing. We also offer CNC machining and milling, Vacuum Casting and laser cutting services.
Contact us on 01763 249760 to discuss your next prototype project.