Weekly Assignments
Final Project

15. Applications and Implications

What will it do?

My final project for FabAcademy 2015 consists in designing and building a modular incubator. I will be using low cost materials, allowing third world hospitals to build and repair their own incubators.

The basic version of the incubator consists of a structure made of wood with a thermoregulation system. The brain of the system will be an ATmega168A. This microprocessor will control all the connected modules to motherboard of the incubator. Therefore it should not crash in the absence of any of them.

Additionally, the designed incubator will be provided with a tilting bed and a very basic user interface. If there is enough time before the final presentation some more characteristics may be implemented.

Who's done what beforehand?

Many low cost incubators can be found on the Internet. Some of them solve specific problems, others use different approaches, a few designs are based on recycled materials, etc.

Firefly Phototherapy - MIT: this is a lovely design, very neat an simple. The problem is that, despite it has one of its features, it is not really an incubator. Anyhow I decided to add this project to this section because I consider it inspirational.

Embrace - Stanford: this is a sleeping bag that costs about $25 and allows the child to be in contact with his mom. Direct contact has been proved to be beneficial to the child growth during the first days of life. This fact should be taken into consideration while designing the incubator

Clinicalresearch incubator: this incubator is incredibly well thought, it covers almost every critical aspect. It may be missed the ability to change the inclination of the bed.

An Alternative Infant Incubator - Qingwen Kawaji: is a really interesting approach for an incubator. It combines some of the approaches seen before and creates its own version, which costs about $140.

Car incubator: this is a very interesting solution. It uses old car parts to build an incubator. The main problem of this approach is that not all the third world countries have access to such amount of car parts to build it.

What materials and components will be required?

The incubator structure will be made of wood. This material should be strong and lightweight enough to move the incubator. On the other hand, the legs of the incubator, allows tilting and changing the height of the machine. This features might lead into an inestable design, therefore, those will be made of a stronger and heavier wood.

In order to see through the incubator walls, I will add plastic. This material will be carefully selected to be non-toxic for the baby.

Finally, the electronics will be made using components from the Fab Lab inventory

Where will they come from?

Ideally all the components will be able to be found in any Fab Lab of the world. Despite of that there are some components (such as the heater) that will have to be bought separately. Anyhow, I will try to use cheap and easy to found components.

How much will it cost?

At this stage is quite difficult to estimate the pricing of the final design. This due to:

  • I am iterating over an over to improve each design I made.
  • The final project must be quite robust. It must hold a baby inside without colapsing!
  • I am looking for a low cost design, so I cannot overestimate the cost of the final product.

Anyhow, I will try to do an estimation.


Item Qty. Unit price Price
Atmega168A 3 1,48 € 4,43 €
DTH11 2 2,93 € 5,86 €
A4953ELJTR-T 2 0,91 € 1,82 €
B3SN-3112P 1 0,74 € 0,74 €
CLV1A-FKB-CJ1M1F1BB7R4S3CT-ND 1 0,53 € 0,53 €
PS1240P02BT 1 0,27 € 0,27 €
67-1781-ND 1 7,06 € 7,06 €
BZT52C3V3-FDICT-ND 1 0,04 € 0,04 €
160-1167-1-ND 4 0,13 € 0,52 €
311-1161-1-ND 9 0,05 € 0,42 €
445-1423-1-ND 3 0,07 € 0,20 €
587-1352-1-ND 7 0,18 € 1,29 €
311-0.0ERCT-ND 3 0,00 € 0,01 €
311-1.00KFRCT-ND 3 0,01 € 0,02 €
311-10.0KFRCT-ND 4 0,01 € 0,03 €
311-499FRCT-ND 4 0,01 € 0,03 €
490-6999-1-ND 1 0,19 € 0,19 €
ZLDO1117G50DICT-ND 1 0,34 € 0,34 €
ED1514-ND 5 0,46 € 2,32 €
CP-012-ND 1 0,78 € 0,78 €
CP1-023PJCT-ND 1 0,82 € 0,82 €
FCI 20021121-00010C4LF 1 0,33 € 0,33 €
3M 961120-6404-AR 3 0,67 € 2,00 €
3M 960108 5 0,72 € 3,62 €
ACZ11BR1E-20KQD1-20C 1 1,53 € 1,53 €
XC1109CT-ND 3 0,43 € 1,28 €
Fan 4 3,30 € 13,20 €
B3SN-3112P 1 0,74 € 0,74 €
311-0.0ERCT-ND 2 0,01 € 0,01 €
311-499FRCT-ND 1 0,01 € 0,01 €
HC-05 1 4,41 € 4,41 €
TOTAL: 54,84 €

It might seem expensive, but the list includes all the electronic parts to build the incubator that will be built as end project. Not all of them will be included in the basic low cost incubator.


Item Qty. Unit price Price
PLA 1kg 1 19,90 € 19,90 €
Wood 8m2 80,00 € 80,00 €
Hinges 10 0,65 € 6,49 €
small screws 200 0,01 € 1,00 €
TOTAL 107,39 €

I will update the needed budget estimation once I get to the final design.

What parts and systems will be made?

The final project will consist of the structure of the cradle, the legs and the incubator to regulate the temperature and control the humidity. Also, It will be able to tilt the bed automatically and to read the status of the incubator using a bluetooth interface.

What processes will be used?

  • 3D printing: some support and joining pieces will be printed to fit all the structure together.
  • Computer-controlled machining: the structure should be robust. Noticing that the design will be based on press-fit joints, the precision is quite important.
  • Molding and casting: might be used to reproduce easily some parts with especially difficult shapes to be achieved using a CNC.
  • Mechanical design, machine design: to tilt the bed.
  • Electronics & programming: almost every electronics and programming techniques (if not all of them) learned during the FabAcademy 2015 will have its place in the project.

What tasks need to be completed?

The temperature control and the bed inclination using the built-in user interface has to be finished.

The legs and the incubator body must be built by June 10th.

What questions need to be answered?

Is this design usable inside a hospital? and, at the same time, is it friendly enough to act as a cradle for the child?

Is it possible to fit all the pieces inside the box of the incubator allowing an easy transport of the machine?

What happens when the power goes out?

What is the schedule?

By the end of next week I will have the incubator design ready to build, and by the end of may, all the circuits sill be milled and welded. If I meet this timings I will be able to program/debug all the functionality of the incubator.

How will it be evaluated?

The final result should include at least thermoregulation and bed inclination with a simple user interface. I would evaluate the prototype taking into consideration its repairability and functionality. The quality of the code and the circuits are also quite important, because this project pretends to be the beginning of something bigger.