Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR Spectrometer

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  • 2015

  • Product Design
    Medical and Scientific

Designed By:

  • CobaltNiche
  • Agilent Technologies

Commissioned By:

Agilent Technologies

Designed In:

Australia

Mid-infrared molecular spectroscopy technology analyses: polymers, coatings, composites, geological samples, soil, bulk materials (powders & granules) and even historical artefacts. Agilent’s 4300 FTIR places this amazing technology in the user’s hand across a range of industries, providing immediate analysis results in the field. The most mobile, ergonomic and feature rich professional analysis instrument of its type in the world – the 4300 is a truly innovative instrument that broadens the feasible applications for molecular spectroscopy technology and ultimately increases the application of scientific analysis to improve the world in which we live.


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  • CobaltNiche and Agilent Technologies worked closely together to develop the highly integrated product assembly, balancing internal technology; heat dissipation; air flow and sealing performance with ergonomic and centre of gravity requirements; and the mechanical design detailing of over 20 injection-moulded casing parts. The multidisciplinary user-centric approach to the product's development integrates industrial design, mechanical engineering, optical engineering, electronics and software development with heat management and fluid dynamics engineering - resulting in an exceptionally versatile and usable product that maximises the value of Agilent's world leading scanning technology.

  • The 4300's breadth of applications and users - from highly trained scientific researchers to task oriented technicians - calls for a design language that has wide appeal. The 4300 uniquely straddles the boundary between highly sophisticated scientific lab instrument and robust outdoor measurement tool - informing the 4300's styling. The product won't stand vertically but rests on TPE bumpers on its side, reducing damage of the sensitive internal optics due to falls. Fasteners have been painstakingly hidden with a unique assembly approach and clip in finishing parts - pure and honest forms that reference Agilent's instrument design language while breaking new ground in an 'out-of-lab' product category.

  • Supplied with detailed user training, the 4300 is highly intuitive to use within the context of being a fully functional molecular spectroscopy analysis instrument. The device is activated by a single hard-button “on” switch then driven by the angle adjustable touch screen display, with analysis activated by the single trigger button. The 4300 is light weight with optimal ergonomics and a 'hot swap' battery functionality (avoiding device warm-up time) to allow extended periods of use as required in many repetitive test applications. The 4300 affords users 'in-field' sample analysis and the device can download data (via USB cable) for more detailed analysis on a laptop or lab based PC.

  • In developing an instrument intended for extended use a key insight was the importance of grip ergonomics and the product's centre of gravity in making the product user friendly. Optimisation of mass through detailed design and engineering could reduce the product's weight only so far. Although the lightest product of its kind anywhere in the world, the 2kg weight still posed fatigue challenges. CobaltNiche's user-centric process explored internal technology configurations and iterative mock-ups and prototypes to optimise the product's centre of gravity and ergonomics, minimising user fatigue and discomfort during periods of extended use.

    The 4300 offers users a safe and ergonomic device for extended periods of repetitive analysis - once the device is properly calibrated and set-up it can perform multiple analyses via trigger activation. The hot-swap battery functionality means the user can continue to test throughout a work day without having to wait for the device to warm-up - as would be the case if powering down was required to change batteries. Mains power (via rear connector) can be employed as required, overriding the need for batteries. The blue tabs on either side of the sample interface are pushed inwards with a single hand to allow the sample interface to be quickly removed and swapped to analyse different sample types.

    The 4300 is IP54 rated despite fan driven cooling across 2 internal heat sinks. Many parts offer sealing, airflow, and structure below the sleek outer. The product's hermetically sealed core (world leading optical technology) is contained within a hydro-formed aluminium case, clamped between the moulded casings. Within the hydro-form, excess heat is conducted to a heat sink via heat pipes. Air is drawn between the hydro-form and outer casings, over the hydro-form's heat sink, then the main PCB heat sink before exiting via the top panel. TPE over-mould reduces part count while including sealing and bumper functionality. The battery housing in particular seals in multiple directions with minimum parts.

    The 4300 was designed with empathy for all user groups and their environments. Its portability reduces the need to disturb sites by taking away physical samples - reducing the environmental and cultural impact of analysis. The 4300's complex design was refined to minimise material usage and part count and meet all performance requirements for sealing (IP54), mechanical strength and heat dissipation. To reduce material usage the casing parts are moulded with glass-filled polypropylene. Machined steel internals, optical components and the hydro-formed aluminium casing have been employed for function and material optimisation. The 4300 can be disassembled for service, repair & replacement.