Design Engineering
Showcase

Rheon Labs

Team
Development Team
Supervisor
Dr Mazdak Ghajari
Role
Junior Design Developer
Sector
Industrial Manufacturing

Rheon Labs is a material ingredient company that utilises its proprietary strain-rate-sensitive material to develop best in class solutions for helmets, body armour, compression clothing and personal protection equipment (PPE). Working at Rheon Labs has proven to be extremely fast-paced and challenging throughout. Once the initial learning curve of computational design was overcome, I gained a huge amount of responsibility, with project management, pitching to clients and independent design activities all becoming commonplace. Rheon Labs provided the opportunity to work on a wide variety of impactful projects; creating value and commercial opportunities for the company alongside developing life-saving and game-changing design solutions.

 — Rheon Labs

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

During my 6 month placement with Rheon Labs I worked on over 23 projects for at least 13 external clients. I took projects from ideation through to full prototypes, worked on exciting tasks for big clients and pushed research boundaries for new products.

I took on independent design, manufacturing and testing activities, developing product and project propositions that increase value for the company. I increased feasibility for entering a new sports sector and started development on potentially commercially successful projects that will create revenue for the company.

During my work at Rheon Labs, I far exceeded what I expected to be able to achieve in 6 months, especially given the extreme circumstances of starting a new job in lockdown (My first workshop experience at the Labs was running the injection moulding machine to produce face shields for distribution to Imperial College Healthcare Trust locations around London). When I joined I set myself the goals of taking a product from design to physical prototype, presenting a concept to an external client, improving my computational design skills and getting involved in at least 3 projects. 23 projects later, I have progressed more than I could have imagined, gaining knowledge in materials, manufacturing, design, engineering and business management. Some of my key achievements (the ones I'm allowed to mention) are detailed below.

 — Rheon Labs
Roles of a Junior Design Developer at Rheon Labs.

Roles and Contributions

As a Junior Design Developer at Rheon Labs, roles and responsibilities varied greatly day to day. These included; ideation, sketching, CAD, computational design, concept visualisation, tool design, injection moulding, CNC machining, tool processing, product assembly, test rig design, data processing, quality control, concept testing, presenting to clients, market research, commercial viability studies and product photography. Some of the projects I played a significant role in are detailed below.

 — Rheon Labs
Prototype Rheon 3D printer.

As part of an internal R&D task, I co-designed and built a 3D printer capable of printing in Rheon's proprietary strain-rate sensitive material. This required research into the field of printing with viscoelastic materials, something I had not previously worked on. This printer was built from off-the-shelf components at 10% of the cost of the previous machine, meaning Rheon Labs' development costs and tooling lead times at early stages of the project were drastically reduced.

The printer consumes ‘regrind’, a blended mixture of material recovered from failed injection moulded and 3D printed parts. Rheon Labs can utilise previously wasted material in the prototyping phase, resulting in considerably lower material usage.

The intern team were given full responsibility over a project looking at Rheon Labs' application in the golf industry. This included product viability research (costing, market research, expected sales figures), computational design, tool manufacture and moulding the parts. We then designed and built a cutting edge test rig to monitor dynamic torque response on impact, a metric previously unmeasured in the golf industry. We analysed the data from these tests to produce a compelling data-driven story on why Rheon Labs should enter this market, pitching this back to the CEO and international Account Managers. Data and results from this project are now being used in prospective client meetings to push this project towards commercial development.

 — Rheon Labs
Helmet testing.

I was involved in the planning and execution of several testing studies, including those for existing clients FLY Racing and Xenith. This gave me an opportunity to develop my understanding of Rheon's data-driven design approach, as well as seeing iterative design loops in place in a professional context.

A geometry that I designed for another client company (protected under NDA) produced a 12% performance increase against their previous versions. This greatly increased the chances of a full commercial agreement being developed and signed with this particular client.

Summary

Working at Rheon Labs was a fast-paced internship filled with exciting projects, learning opportunities and responsibilities. Even as an intern I was given a high level of independence and responsibility, including leading projects. It is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in computational design, materials science or product design.

 — Rheon Labs

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