At this point my quest to create a fully autonomous insulin pump from scratch was coming to a conclusion (at least for what I wanted to do in the short 8 weeks that I had to work, I will continue to improve designs and make the pump better in the future). I was making iteration after iteration of prototypes with small tweaks to each one to see which one I could get to work the way that I wanted. This week I called the “grind week” because there wasn’t much learning compared to previous weeks, but it was time to buckle down and get a working piece of technology.
The Final Design
The design you see above is the case that I created in tinkerCad to work with the rack and pinion gear system that I have mentioned in previous blog posts. Most of the additions to this design address the rigidity of it. I know that the filament I was using (PLA) isn’t the most appropriate for making strong object, so a lot of the strength in the pump had to come from the design of the case itself. I also add a collar to the reservoir holder (the part in the center of the photo that looks like a hollowed out cylinder) because it allowed me to get very consistent flow from the pump, and makes reloading the pump with insulin much easier. I also add a few cutouts for ventilation to keep the hardware from over heating, and that is the extent of the design that I went with. Each iteration I calculated to cost less than ten cents. At this point both the software and hardware were integrated together and I had a working, consistent insulin pump that worked in a true feedback loop. I was happy with the way that the pump was working and was able to get it to pull data continuously for hours and use it to pump insulin (the only reason I stopped was because I had to go to bed and didn’t want the pump to run over night without me watching it). I am confident that this feedback loop could work continuously for the life of the set and CGM.
With my project being at a satisfactory spot for the presentation that was fast approaching, it was time to shift gears from building things, to being able to communicate some of the things that I was able to accomplish over the past 8 weeks. I believe that my biggest accomplishment in this project was the fact that I was able to create a truly closed-loop system that was more than $9,200 cheaper than the hybrid systems that companies have put out recently. I believe that there is a long way to go in the race to create a mechanical pancreas, but there’s no time to stop. I will keep up to date on any further improvements that I make!
I would like to thank Dr. Remy along with the entire educational technology team for the opportunity to build something that I have dreamed about for years. Thank you to everyone else who has supported me in the quest to build this. It was truly an amazing experience and one that I will never forget. The fight against diabetes isn’t over, but the future is promising and I look forward to any improvements that I may be able to make in the future.
You can watch my presentation here