Case Study: Full Spectral CT Imaging Machine Cabinet for MARS Bioimaging

Client:
Mars Bioimaging Ltd (MBI)

Challenge:
To manufacture a movable lead-lined cabinet for a full spectral X-ray CT imaging machine. 

Outcome:
Working closely with Mars Bioimaging and their other project partners, FabTek constructed an initial prototype and two production runs of five cabinets each, for the Christchurch research teams and for USA and European research partners. Design work is underway on a revised unit for full commercial release.

 

The Story:
Mars Bioimaging Ltd (MBI) was formed in order to commercialise the ground-breaking MARS imaging system for its applications in medical diagnosis. The MARS imaging system is based on the new generation Medipix chip licensed out of CERN, Switzerland and technology developed by the University of Canterbury (UC) and partners. The first pure research stage of the project was to test some samples in a lab. The next stage was to develop a lab-based imager for small animals and pathology samples. The current target market is the many hundreds of biomedical research labs worldwide that need better imaging tools.

The MARS spectral CT, has established itself as the world’s leading spectral (multi-energy ‘true colour’) imaging technology.

After engaging Quarticom to design a rolling cabinet to contain and operate a seperately designed contructed rotary gantry assembly, MBI approached FabTek Industries and two other fabrication companies for quotes to manufacture the cabinet. The cabinet is a multipart assembly comprising a rigid mild steel frame, a stainless steel tank and lid with lead shielding and integrated outer cover panels. Both the housing and cover panels involve complex 3 dimensional shapes that would normally require metal pressing dies or injection moulded plastic dies; however these techniques were not viable for the initial prototype and early production runs because of their expense and inability to rapidly incorporate design changes.

The other two fabrication companies declined to quote due to the complexity of the design; on the other hand FabTek embraced the fabrication challenges, demonstrated some other examples of their work to establish their expertise in the relevant areas and submitted a quote accordingly.

Professor Phil Butler, UC’s project leader and CEO of MBI said “FabTek were very proactive in suggesting ways to enhance or simplify the design in order to improve the design functionality, enhance the cosmetic appearance and reduce the fabrication costs. The result is a modular CT scanner that is reliable and easy to service anywhere in the world.”

“Bevan is always accessible and committed to working through any problems or improvements. He also doesn’t hesitate to involve his tradespeople and allow us access to them in areas where they can make a contribution to the design. In this and all other respects, FabTek Industries is one of our project partners, not simply a supplier. As such he is one of several Chrischurch firms that is enabling us to develop a world-class high-tech product.”

“Bevan and his team have set a high benchmark. FabTek have never tried to control or take over the design process, but have worked with us to get a better design outcome.”

“Throughout the prototyping exercise, FabTek constantly updated their internal CAD models and production drawings, and copied these models and drawings to us, so that MBI maintains control of its intellectual property. This is essential as we go through the process of gaining CE accreditation.”