In 2018, the Lausanne-based start-up Helvitek Labs asked itself a simple question: “why do we protect our heads but not our lungs?”. Even if the problem of air quality is seriously addressed in many countries, the fact remains that health problems due to pollution exist. In Switzerland as well. By thinking in particular of cyclists evolving in urban areas, or globetrotters who roam the largest cities in the world, the start-up has thus developed a new innovative Swiss made mask: the Nevo Urban Mask.
In 2020, in collaboration with Heltivek Labs and specialized partners, INOV3 provided its expertise for the industrialization of this new object.
Protection, comfort and sophistication
A few words about the mask to begin with. Nevo Mask is an assembly of components, including a modular filter that can respond to different situations. Currently, two filters exist: the first protects against particles circulating in cities, the second against bacteria, allergens and viruses – including Covid-19. But the Nevo Mask is also presented as a comfortable and elegant “lifestyle” object.
The idea is to make a transition with this mask like it was done for the bicycle helmet. By making it more comfortable, cooler, it can become an object of the wardrobe.
co-founder Helvitek Labs
To ensure optimal safety and comfort, the mask is therefore broken down into five elements. An antiviral shell (1) that prevents contamination by touch, a solid plastic structure with> 50% biological material (2), an IIR / FFP2 certified replaceable filter (3), an hydrophobic and anti-fog (4) and an adaptable strap that leaves the ears clear (5).
It is on the assembly of these various components and for their large-scale production that our engineers intervened. In the case of the Nevo Mask, the question of industrialization was raised very early on, thus avoiding consequent adaptation costs thereafter. When INOV3 started participating in the project, the 3D files had already been produced and the product was well advanced. For this project, our expertise was therefore not on the product design side but on its industrialization.
We came quite early, before we had finished the product. And the advantage of arriving early is that the engineers were able to guide us quickly.
co-founder Helvitek Labs
Industrialization is a succession of small adaptation loops and attempts to assemble the various components. Each element of an object has its own physical qualities; shape, size, rigidity and flexibility, which must be studied in order to make large-scale production more efficient and financially suitable. Testing, discussion and the exchange of ideas are therefore essential during this part of the process.
After several prototypes, when the product is satisfactory, 3D files are sent to the mold maker, then the parts are returned and tested. There are usually two to three loops with the mold makers for a project. The tests are carried out by using different software, but also by manipulating the objects and trying them on – this is the case with the face part of the Nevo mask, the best test being to put it on and judge its comfort. Some parts, such as the magnets for attaching the mask strap, have been removed for technology and casting. Other elements have been adapted, the shape, the density of the material of the hull and the structure for example. A crucial stage of industrialization, which therefore enabled Helvitek to better project itself into production costs and to ensure the feasibility of masks on a large scale.
Two loops during the industrialization phase, problems anticipated and resolved in advance, reproducible 3D files and precise specifications; the Nevo Mask project is a success as much for the rich collaboration as for its result. The various files and documents provided to Helvitek now allow them to transmit clear and detailed requirements to any partner for the molding of parts.
Nevo Mask, it was a short adventure in which INOV3 participated with great pleasure. Rich discussions, a health project that makes sense and that pleased us a lot. We again thank the entire INOV3 team for their exceptional work.
Main speakers : Gilbert Gavillet (INOV3), Théo Denisart (Helvitek Labs) and Jean-Luc Denisart.