Manipulators path to market



Executive Summary 

Develop a family of open source micromanipulators. 

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Highlights and key figures

See project VAS page.


Costs and funding (live figure)
enter graph

Market development
enter graph

Affiliates actively contributing to this project

Active affiliates

See Role topology

Close collaborators

Dilson Rassier (McGill University, Dep. of Physiology) - tester of prototypes and new products. 

Philippe Comtois (Montreal Heart Institute) - tester and co-developer of prototypes and new products.

Dr. P.H. Grutter from McGill University, Department of Physics - tester of prototypes and new products. 


The Project

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Background

This project began in the context of Phil's project for the Mosquito displacement/force sensor. The incentive was the high price of piezo-based micromanipulators. Our goal was to create a minimal viable product, an xyz piezo micromanipulator that is accessible to most research labs, performing basic functions like precise (nm resolution) motion, on a range of a few hundreds of microns. 

Jonathan created a few piezo driver prototypes,which were tested in Phil's lab.

One axis piezo tested at Phil's lab
 
Piezo stack (left) and single-axis unipolar piezo driver (right), during testing in Phil's lab, Dec 10, 2010. See video of the test here http://youtu.be/q72nsWLs7o4


Piezo stack attatched by Ivan to the blue micromanipulator in Phil's lab


Frederic C. built on Jonathan's work and created the first fully functional piezo driver prototype using an APEX amplifier (see announcement and report. The problem with this design was manufacturing reliability: the APEX amplifier is very sensitive to manipulation.

 piezo driver in the box
Piezo driver prototype made by Frederic, building on work by Jonathan.

 Tibi's setup for characterization
Tibi's setup, getting ready to test the piezo driver made by Frederic (building on Jonathan's work)
 

Frederic testing the first working piezo driver at SENSORICA lab in Montreal.



We decided to try a different design. Antonio created the first working piezo driver prototype, capable to drive two axis, using parts identified by Jonathan

Antonio's piezo driver
 a 2-axis piezo driver box,connected to a piezo cylinder for testing
piezo plan B made by Antonio
 inside look of the 2-axis piezo driver
New piezo prototype made by Antonio, using the PDu100
 
The new modular piezo driver made by Antonio was installed in Dilson's lab at McGill University (Department of Physiology) for testing.
 
 the entire experimental system for myofibril studies


 our new piezo driver installed on the system



The electronic design of the first prototype was improved by Antonio and Jonathan.

 Driver box design by Antonio - MPM - S1

 Electronics board designed by Antonio and Jonathan

 2-axis Driver prototype - MPM - S1

2-axis Driver prototype electronics



The mechanical design of the actuator was improved by Daniel.

Assembled on xyz manual stage -  open 3D design

 3D printed parts

Antonio designed and prototyped the 3-axis Mantis, controlled with the 3-axis driver.

 First prototype
 Second prototype


Antonio and Jonathan prototyped a 3-axis piezo driver.

 
 


Tibi and Antonio designed and prototyped a medium range low-cost piezo actuator

 
 


A new generation of long range piezo actuators was designed by Antonio.

 
 



Presentation of the product and example applications

There are two main lines of products that address two different markets: the high-end and the low-end manipulators. The high-end line is marketed as scientific instruments to research labs. The low-end line is low cost and is dedicated to OSHW communities. 

The product contains two main components:
  1. Electronic driver - produces a high voltage output that drives piezo actuators
  2. System of piezo actuators - piezo ceramic parts that are assembled together in a specific way.
 example of piezo driver
New piezo prototype made by Antonio, using the PDu100
 example of a piezo actuator, a piezo stack with 50 microns range
Piezo stack, new from China

Multiple piezo actuators can be assembled together into a system capable of xyz motion. In the picture below, a piezo stack, capable on 1 axis motion is assembled with a piezo tube, capable of 2 axis motion, using 3D printed adapters. This model was designed to hold a Mosquito transducer

3D design made by Daniel

XYZ Piezo micromanipulator holding a displacement/force transducer, part of the Mosquito Scientific Instrument System http://www.sensorica.co/home/products#TOC-The-Scientific-Instrument-System

Immediate application

Mosquito on manual xyz
The piezo xyz micromanipulator is actually designed for the scientific instrument market, more precisely Physiology and Biology. It will help researchers move tools like needles and sensors in space with nm precision. Our Mosquito project at Phil's lab is one example of application, where the piezo micromanipulator is designed to hold the Mosquito transducer for fine position adjustment.

Example of use - the piezo is holding a micro needle used in experiments on muscle physiology at McGill University. The experiment is setup ontop of an inverted microscope. The muscle cells are placed into a physiological bath, in physiological medium, in the field of view of the microscope. The piezo helps the researcher to position the microneedle with very high precision within the bath, inorder to manipulate tiny muscle cells.




The services provided by SENSORICA through its members

  • 3D modeling services to customize the assembly of the piezo actuators for multiple axis of motion, and to fit with the rest of the experimental setup
  • Fabrication of parts used in the system using CNC and 3D printing
  • Customization of the piezo driver for multiple axis control. We also envision to integrate another functionality, like valve control for perfusion systems.
  • Integration services, helping researchers to integrate the piezo system into their experimental system
  • Software customization. 
  • Installation
  • Training

Customer needs and Product Specifications

See Fernando's analysis for the high-end Manipulators

Need the same analysis for the open source version.

SWOT analysis 

(strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats)
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Timetable of activities and SMART objectives

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Advantages of the product

  • Open source
  • Low cost
  • Modular - extensible for multiple axis of motion
  • User friendly
  • ...


Positioning

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Market Study

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Industry Analysis

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Key success factors

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Factors affecting demand

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Trends and market developments

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Feedback on MPM - S1

Francois, Mathieu and Antonio presented the MPM - S1 in different labs in Montreal. Their conclusion is that it needs esthetic improvements and enhanced performance, with 3 channels DAQ and a microcontroller. 

Market analysis

See Francois' document

First market segment

Who are the clients?

Targeted customers in this segments are researchers, professors and medical researchers. They work in universities, research institutes and university hospitals.

Buying behavior

Some of us have been buyers, working in academic research labs. We know the purchasing behavior of researchers. They often want the best quality and better services at any cost, buying peace of mind. They are therefore very committed to the reputation of a brand and tend to remain loyal. The high switching costs also encourage them to be loyal. They are also heavily influenced by leaders of opinion (that is to say, the most renowned researchers in their field) and can even switch brands to buy the same equipment as they use.

They are primarily motivated by productivity gains offered by our Mantis, which will accelerate their research in order to publish more, and thus to increase their chances of being funded. They are also concerned by the versatility offered by the Mantis, which allows them to push their experiments further than with other available devices (measuring a broader spectrum of contraction force, from a single cell to a small piece or tissue). 

How many are they?

In Canada, the number of university research labs in biology (biology and biomedical research) is estimated at 10,250, from a total of 25,000 research labs. Of these 10,250 laboratories, 5% are physiology labs, which gives about 500 labs across the country. These 500 laboratories are our Canadian market segment, plus a portion of 10,250 biology labs that perform physiological experiments. Only 1% of 10,250 labs represents 100 additional potential customers, bringing the total to about 600 Canadian labs.
Globally, the number of physiology laboratories is estimated at 15,000.

What is the value of the potential market?

The Canadian public research budget in physiology and biophysics was estimated at $380 million in 2010. We can safely estimate that 10% of this budget is spent on purchases of lab equipment, which is is $38M. This represents the size of the Canadian market in physiology research. In all, and given the part of Canadian research in the world (3% in 2010), the world market segment for research instruments in physiology is estimated at $ 1.3 billion.

Sales potential for this market

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Details on first customers/testers

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Other potential clients

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Growth

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Analysis of the competition

Characteristics of the direct competition

  Competitor 1 Competitor 2 Competitor 3 Competitor 4
quality of products  


 
quality of services  


 
product line  



clients   


 
distribution 



price  



marketing tactics  


 
main strength 



main weakness   




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Second market segment

Who are the clients?

Hobbyists, OSHW developers, fablabs and makerspaces. 

Buying behavior

They can take risk, prefer lower costs, like modularity and interoperability, can repair if it brakes. Perfect market for testing alpha and beta. 

How many are they?

In Montreal
In Quebec
In Canada
In North America
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What is the value of the potential market?

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Sales potential for this market

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Details on first customers/testers

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Other potential clients

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Growth

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Analysis of the competition

Characteristics of the direct competition

 Competitor 1Competitor 2Competitor 3Competitor 4
quality of products  


 
quality of services  


 
product line  



clients   


 
distribution 



price  



marketing tactics  


 
main strength 



main weakness   




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Conclusion - Impact on SENSORICA

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Outreach/marketing plan

For first market segment

Based on feedback provided by Francois, who did some demos of the MPM - S1, we need to improve the outreach 
  1. Tactus' website needs a convenient url to replace http://final.tactusscientific.com/
  2. Tactus' website needs to be crosslinked to Sensorica's website and vice-versa
  3. Need better brochures. 
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Social media

Distribution points

  • Tactus (main distributor)
  • eBay (all members can sell it on eBay)

For second market segment

Use social media to reach open source communities that need low-cost manipulators. 

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Social media

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Distribution points

  • Adafruits, Sparkfun, Backyard Brain, etc. 
  • eBay (all members can sell it on eBay)

Budget for sales and marketing

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Operations

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Manufacturing

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