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Biomedical Engineering Design Projects

Pill Removal Device

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Project Overview

Patients with hand weaknesses or deformities have a hard time opening pills which come in blister packages. The goal of this project is to design a device which will make the process of opening a single pill from an over the counter blister pack easier.

For those who do not know what blister packaging is, some examples are shown in the picture below.


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Project Status

Our team picture:

At this point we have completed our prototype as well as the testing of our device.

Through our research early on in the design process we found that the currently patented devices do not address all problems which this device strives to solve. Thus, our goal has been to design a device which is safe and effective in opening all types of blister packs (both punch out and peel away packaging).

Solid works models of the design which we constructed this semester are shown below. The blade cuts the pill out from the packaging. Thus, easily releasing the pill for the user. Two SolidWorks drawings of the design are shown below:
SW Pic 1
This image shows the low friction track, blade assembly, and brackets which will attach to the handle to be pulled by the user. The blade in this image is shown in red.

SW Pic 2
This image includes the handle which is pulled by the user, as well as the protective cover that folds down to hold the blister pack in place as the blade slices through it. The protective cover (when open) will include a safety mechanism which prevents the blade assembly from being pulled forward. This is designed to prevent user injury from the blade advancing forward at inappropriate times.

The final prototype is shown below. One design component to note is the custom t-brackets which the handle is attached to. The t-brackets were fabricated to fit perfectly onto the drawer slides which provide low-friction movement of the blade. The box is reinforced at each corner with custom corner brackets to add structural integrity to the entire design. The black rubber pad which is seen on the underside of the cover applies additional force on the pill packaging to hold the packaging in place while the device is in use. Finally, a rubber latch is attached to the lid to hold the lid down while in use.
Final Design

The safety mechanism is one of the key components of the design and it is shown below. When the lid is open, the safety mechanism is in place and it prevents the forward movement of the blade assembly as shown in the picture below. When the lid is closed, the safety mechanism is pushed down allowing the blade to move forward and cut the pill from the packaging.
Safety Mechanism

The last major design feature to note is the angled setup of the blade. The custom t-brackets were assembled in such a way that the attachment of the blade on either side of the device was offset relative to each other. This resulted in the blade being mounted at an angle (instead of perpendicular to the direction of movement). The angled blade creates a shearing force as it cuts the pill from the packaging. The shearing force is more effective in removing the pill than a blunt perpendicular force would be. The angled blade assembly is shown below.
Angled Blade

For a more detailed description of the design process as well as the individual components/features of the final prototype please see the final report located at the bottom of this page.

Testing of the device showed extremely positive results. Minimal pill damage occurred when the device was used with four different types of pills/packages. One pill type showed no damage in each of the five trials that was performed with it. The graph shown below shows that when pill damage occurred with the device, the damage accounted for less than 1% of the pill. It should be noted that damage did not occur during all trials. A more detailed description of the testing procedure and results is located in the final report at the bottom of this page.

Progress Report Archive.

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Project Timeline

Week Reporting Period Beginning Activities
1 January 25
2 February 1 Formed Team, Met With Client, Brainstorming Session
3 February 8 Patent Research, Met with pharmacy resident, Purchased some OTC pills for initial testing, Switched focus to include peel away pill packaging
4 February 15 Refined design ideas focusing on the use of a blade, designed and constructed a device to test how effective a blade is when used to open pill packaging (and determined that a frozen tissue microtome blade was effective)
5 February 22 Continued refining design, purchased ball bearing drawer slides, began SolidWorks modeling, discussed midsemester deliverables
6 February 29 Compiled preliminary versions of midsemester deliverables, contacted client about midsemester presentation, received drawer slides, completed SolidWorks modeling of all three design alternatives
7 March 7 Finalized Presentation, Gave Presentation, Received edits on our paper/revised our paper.
8 March 14 Purchase Parts
9 March 21 Purchase Parts
10 March 28 Fabricated custom T-Brackets, cut sides for box from acrylic sheet, mounted sliders on acrylic box sides, cut sheet metal for top of box
11 April 4 Purchase additional hardware, attach T-Brackets to sliders, assemble adjustable blade mechanism, design and assemble safety mechanism, pre-assemble handle, glue sides of box together
12 April 11 Finalized and mounted safety mechanism, cut hole for pill in metal top, finished milling acrylic top and mounted on box with hinges, preliminary test which was successful in removing pill from packaging
13 April 18 Coated blade to prevent sharp edge exposure, preliminary testing, designed piece to improve blade path, determined that our box was not structurally sound, designed and fabricated brackets to improve structural integrity of box
14 April 25 Finalized prototype construction, prototype testing, finished poster, began writing final report
15 May 2 Delivered Final Presentation at Tong BME Design Poster Session

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Presentations and Reports

pdf icon Product Design Specifications (Feb 12 2008, 74 kb)
ppt icon Midsemester Presentation (Mar 6 2008, 1135 kb)
pdf icon Midsemester Report (Mar 12 2008, 357 kb)
pdf icon Design Matrix (Mar 12 2008, 58 kb)
pdf icon Final Poster (May 6 2008, 262 kb)
pdf icon Final Report (May 6 2008, 472 kb)

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Contact Information

Project Team

Project Advisor and Client

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Created: Feb 4 2008
Content updated: May 6 2008

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