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New syringe to improve safety of vaccinations in developing world

DESIGN INNOVATION IN PLASTICS 2013 - Student Plastics Design Award

A student's cartridge-based syringe system designed to help the victims of disasters in developing countries has won a prestigious innovation award and praise from top plastics industry experts.

July 5, 2013

Chris Natt, a student at the Royal College of Art, secured £1,000 plus a placement with one of the world's renowned suppliers of high-performance materials such as polycarbonates and polyurethanes, Bayer MaterialScience, at their headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, for his 'Project Sting', after winning the Design Innovation in Plastics (DIP) 2013 award - the longest running student plastics design award in Europe.  The second placed student, James Scott (Northumbria University) wins £500 plus a placement with new competition sponsor Innovate Product Design, for his ‘Rain Pod’, which provides shelter during monsoons and also harvests clean drinking water. The third prize of £250 and a placement with leading product innovation consultancy PDD, was awarded to Thomas Hamilton (Loughborough University) for his ‘Zebro’ leg splint based on a secure binding system controlled for the first time by a ratchet dial.

Two further prizes were awarded to students from Northumbria University: a ‘Biodegradable Disaster Casket’ that dignifies the process of retrieving and burying disaster victims wins Josh Allsopp the Highly Commended prize of £100 and a placement with industrial design agency Brightworks; and ‘Safe Place’, a container for protecting personal valuables and data, has won Michael Heppenstall the Merit Award of £100 and a placement with HellermannTyton, suppliers of high performance cable management solutions.

Chris designed a hypodermic syringe that replaces the traditional three-part syringe commonly used for vaccinations with a system incorporating innovative features: a re-usable master element accommodating a vaccine cartridge, and a flexible diaphragm to dispense vaccine. In addition, the syringe reduces the spread of infection by preventing accidental needle puncture of the skin, and it also includes anti re-use features. One of the judges, Dr Robin Kent, managing director of Tangram Technology, and an internationally recognised plastics processing and materials specialist, said: "Chris Natt is a worthy winner.  His innovative use of plastics enables a new design for clean and effective drug delivery."

Chris has already applied for a patent for the novel concept, and can now apply for support from the DIP mentoring scheme, newly introduced in 2013 to offer post-award support to all the finalists with the goal of helping them take their design ideas closer to commercial realisation.

His design beat off strong opposition from 80 other design students from 14 universities - whittled down from an original entry list of nearly 300, and the judges commented that the final presentations were the best they had seen for a long time.

The competition brief had been to design a product - mainly in plastics - that would help to alleviate the suffering of disaster victims.  It had to be readily transportable in high volume to stricken areas and easy to use in potentially chaotic and challenging environments. Consideration had also to be given to the re-use and disposal of the product.

DIP chairman, Martin Sixsmith, formerly from Bayer MaterialScience, the headline industry sponsor, said:  "We need to be innovative and look at new ways to tackle any disaster, and this competition has been the perfect platform for design students across the UK and Ireland to be creative and design a product that could help make a big difference.”

Commenting on the newly introduced DIP mentoring scheme, student, Josh Allsopp, whose Biodegradable Disaster Casket was highly commended, said: "I have just started my new placement at a plastics forming and fabricating specialist... very exciting.  If it hadn't been for this competition I would never have got the placement, so the award has already had a massive and positive impact, and that was before we even had the award ceremony!"

Organised by the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) and the Worshipful Company of Horners, Design Innovation in Plastics is sponsored and supported by market leaders in the fields of design and innovation



Project Sting
Designed by Chris Natt, Royal College of Art
A hypodermic vaccination syringe for infection control in the developing world

Project Sting is a cartridge based injection system which answered the brief perfectly. It replaces the traditional three-part syringe and incorporates innovative features that distinguish it from any previous syringe design. A re-usable master element accommodates a vaccine cartridge and uses a flexible diaphragm to dispense the vaccine. In addition, the syringe reduces the spread of infection by preventing accidental needle puncture of the skin, and also includes anti re-use features. Chris Natt is an MA/MSc student at the Royal College of Art and has applied for a patent for his new injection delivery system.

Chris wins £1000 plus a placement with Bayer MaterialScience, Leverkusen, Germany


Rain Pod
Designed by James Scott, Northumbria University
A tent providing shelter during monsoons that can also harvest clean drinking water

Disease from contaminated water kills more people around the world than violence. At present, no tent collects rainwater for safe drinking while providing emergency shelter following a disaster. This tent, however, can filter rainwater and also filter tepid water through a combination of bio-sand filtration and ceramic filtration, two systems that use filter materials that are in abundance around the world. A float within the pod works independently to prevent overflow by changing the angle of the roof as rainwater is collected. The Rain Pod avoids the need for sending large quantities of water to relief camps.

James wins £500 plus a placement with Innovate Product Design, Wiltshire


Designed by Thomas Hamilton, Loughborough University
An emergency leg splint for use in mountain rescue type situations

Zebro is a leg splint designed with an innovative cable system that forms a secure and even fitting around a leg injury. It uses ratchet dials for the first time to adjust and tighten the cables, and weighing less than 1kg, it is the lightest re-usable splint on the market. The shell is moulded from sheet polypropylene and fully radio-transparent so that it can pass through a CT or MRI scanner without having to be removed, thus reducing the risk of further injury. The splint fits all sizes, packs flat and is easy to assemble without tools. 

Thomas wins £250 plus a placement with PDD, London


Biodegradable Disaster Casket
Designed by Josh Allsopp, Northumbria University
A biodegradable casket that aids in the process of retrieving, transporting, storing, identifying and burying deceased disaster victims

The retrieval and processing of the deceased following a disaster is often inhumane and degrading creating a highly traumatic and stressful environment. The Disaster Casket is a more dignified alternative to the body bag, designed to make the process easier and more efficient while greatly reducing trauma. The casket is made from polypropylene with a biodegradable additive and can be either thermoformed or injection moulded. The design features multiple carrying positions as well as being able to nest for transport and stack when occupied; a pocket for documents and an integral body sheet is also included in each casket. 

Josh wins £100 plus a placement with Brightworks, Somerset

Safe Place
Designed by Michael Heppenstall, Northumbria University
A waterproof container for the protection, both digital and physical, of documents, valuables and information for people living in flood risk areas

Safe Place is a waterproof container for storing personal documents, data and valuables for use in areas where there is a threat of flood or other disasters. It was inspired by the designer’s personal experience when his home was damaged by the Morpeth Flood of 2008, and consists of an outer casing with an inner container strengthened by moulded ribs. It contains a silica gel gas diffuser for absorbing moisture and conserving documents, and a marker light is fitted at one end that can last for up to ten years. Future containers could be made in different sizes and colours.

Michael wins £100 plus a placement with HellermannTyton


Founded in 1985, the Design Innovation in Plastics Award is a student competition jointly sponsored and run by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and The Worshipful Company of Horners, with the continued support of Bayer MaterialScience as the principal industry sponsor. The Award also acknowledges support from a number of key industry sponsors*.

Details of the 2014 Award will soon be available on the Award website: www.designinnovationplastics.org and also via Twitter,  DIP (@designinplastic), which will post regular updates nearer the time.


For further information and images please contact:
Sylvia Katz, Award Coordinator tel: 020 7503 5949
email: sylviakatz@designinnovationplastics.org.uk    www.designinnovationplastics.org

Note to editors

  • Established in 1985, Design Innovation in Plastics is the longest running student plastics design award in Europe. For more information visit www.designinnovationplastics.org
  • The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) was created from the merger of The Institute of Materials (IOM) and The Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (IMM), and now incorporates the Institute of Packaging. The IOM3 is the professional body for the advancement of materials, minerals and mining to governments, industry, academia, the public and the professions. For more information visit www.iom3.org
  • The Worshipful Company of Horners is one of the oldest livery companies in the City of London and was formed to regulate the horn-working trade. In 1943 it adopted its modern equivalent, the plastics industry. For more information visit www.horners.org.uk
  • Bayer MaterialScience is one of the world’s largest producers of polymers and high-performance plastics. Its coatings, adhesives, insulating materials and sealants, polycarbonates and polyurethanes can be found in applications ranging from automotive, construction, electrical, electronics and household, to sports and leisure. For more information, visit www.bayer.co.uk

*Special thanks are due to the following sponsors:

  • PlasticsEurope: the leading European plastics trade association
  • Innovate Product Design: specialises in helping individuals to protect, develop and commercialise their new product ideas and inventions
  • PDD: provides integrated design and innovation skills, working with organisations worldwide to develop novel products, services and business processes that drive revenues and create competitive advantage
  • Hi-Technology Group:  provides total product solutions to the medical, mobility, marine, defence and health and safety sectors via its design, tooling and moulding companies
  • Brightworks: an award-winning UK product design and development consultancy dedicated to helping other companies develop the best products for their customers, their markets and their brands
  • HellermannTyton:  one of the leading suppliers of products for fastening, fixing, identifying and protecting cables and their connecting components
  • Our media partners: New Design, Materials World and Mould Technology

The judging panel

  • Richard Brown (Chairman), Managing Director, G&A Moulding Technology
  • Mandy Haberman, Director, Haberman Products
  • Rob Holdway, Director, Giraffe Innovation
  • Dr Robin Kent, Managing Director, Tangram Technology
  • Morag Hutcheon, Creative Director, Quadro Design Associates
  • Ian Kelshaw, former Technical Sales Engineer, Bayer MaterialScience
  • James Steiner, Senior Design Researcher, PDD

The winners’ presentation boards will remain on display until the end of July 2013 at the IOM3, 1 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DB. Tel: 020 7451 7300.