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lilac  

An Assistive Breastfeeding Device. 

Overview

Project

Class

Roles

Period

Skills

Impact

Budget

lilac - An Assistive Breastfeeding Device

Product Engineering Processes (MIT Course #: 2.009)

Technical Design Team Lead, Mechanical Design, User Experience Design, Human-Centered Design, Project Management

Sept - Dec 2018

Human-Centered Design, Product Design, 3D Printing (SLA), Arduino, Sensors/Electronics, Calibration Methods, User Testing, User Interviews, SolidWorks - CAD

$7000

Patent Pending Technology for the use of restoring intimacy between mothers and babies

Objective

Lilac is a breastfeeding aid that restores intimacy between mothers and their babies who could not otherwise breastfeed. Due to issues such as cleft palate or tongue tie, 1 in 6 babies struggle to breastfeed. This means hundreds of thousands of mothers who wish to provide breast milk for their child have no choice but to pump and bottle-feed, which is less intimate than direct nursing.

 

During the project, I led the technical design for the suction and feeding mechanism to withdraw milk from the mother and implemented the use of phototransistors to accurately simulate milk flow control when the baby is feeding. Utilizing human-centered design principles and user-testing, our team was able to rapid-prototype with CAD and 3D printing.

  • Led the technical design team which included creating and meeting deadlines, overseeing team members, leading design discussions, staying connected to the User Testing Team, and assigning appropriate tasks based on skills of individuals

  •  Prototyped/finalized the suction mechanism to withdraw milk from the mother with CAD/3D printing

  • Developed the interface between the breast pump and the mother's breast to create a vacuum for suction with silicone molding

  • Rapid-prototyped the interaction between the photo-transistors, milk, and breast pump--along with developing the corresponding electronics

Technical Role

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On the end of lilac, is a nipple that attaches to the device housing by screwing on like a bottle cap. This off-the-shelf nipple is designed to release milk for babies who cannot naturally suckle. It is positioned at an angle such that a mother and baby have maximum skin to skin contact as if she were breastfeeding without assistance.

 

Housing: Next, the mother inserts lilac into her maternity bra to secure the device to her breast. A soft silicone flange creates the vacuum seal, providing added comfort and size customization. The transparent housing helps the mother properly align her nipple. The transparency also allows for real-time feedback on milk flow and consumption. Finally, the mother attaches the tube and turns on the pump which begins to apply suction. Two one-way valves and the diaphragm ensure that milk does not flow back into the suction mechanism.

 

Pump: Once this has been set up, the mother can begin feeding the baby. We have modified an existing pump to include a custom feedback system to prevent milk waste. It does this by balancing the baby’s feeding rate with the mother’ pumping rate. If the baby is feeding slower than the mother is pumping, milk will build up in the reservoir. When milk reaches about an ounce of volume, the milk blocks the view of the photo-transistor. This instructs the pump to turn off. As the baby continues to feed, the milk level falls below the view of the photo-transistor, and the pump turns back on.

 

After the feeding session, the mother disassembles lilac, allowing her to easily clean the dishwasher-safe components.

Component

Overview

Approach

Our team of 22 students were divided into 3 different teams: User Testing, Business Model/Marketing, and Technical. I acted as the Technical Team's Lead and also as the bridge that worked with User Testing and brought user feedback back to the Technical Team. I also assisted and conducted some of the user testing sessions, and one of my main responsibilities towards the end was to fine-tune the product to be intuitive and ready for market.

Safety

Safety was of the upmost importance when pursing this product. When prototyping the business model/market team was responsible for looking into FDA approval, while the technical and user testing team was more oriented towards how to keep the prototyping and manufacturing process clean and up to FDA regulation standards. Every time a prototype for user testing was 3D printed, the 3D printer (a formlabs printer - SLA) was wiped down and sanitized with disinfectant. Before each user testing session, the prototypes were also heat steamed for 20 mins. Each prototype was only held and touched with gloves after the sanitation process and prompted put into a new zip lock back until ready for user testing. We would usually heat steam the prototypes about an hour before a user testing session.

Prototypes

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Silicone
Molding

Safety was of the upmost importance when pursing this product. When prototyping the business model/market team was responsible for looking into FDA approval, while the technical and user testing team was more oriented towards how to keep the prototyping and manufacturing process clean and up to FDA regulation standards. Every time a prototype for user testing was 3D printed, the 3D printer (a formlabs printer - SLA) was wiped down and sanitized with disinfectant. Before each user testing session, the prototypes were also heat steamed for 20 mins. Each prototype was only held and touched with gloves after the sanitation process and prompted put into a new zip lock back until ready for user testing. We would usually heat steam the prototypes about an hour before a user testing session.