noah Gateway

IoT hardware – secure data acquisition

The design process doesn’t always have to be expensive and time-consuming. The product design of the first gateway housing from the start-up noah shows that things can be done differently. With low-complexity requirements and a lot of design freedom for me as a designer, the process could be accelerated and the costs reduced. The requirement was to design a simple and functional housing for the pilot series. This was to be 3D printed using the low-cost FDM process.

The pre-series models are being used by noah at customers. The gateway connects a wide variety of IoT sensors and actuators to each other and to the internet. It consists of a single-board computer with its own software and several additional modules that can be configured according to the required wireless standards.

Product design process

The first task was to arrange the various USB modules with their antennas in such a way that a compact housing could be created. By using special, flat-angled USB extension cables, this was achieved by utilising the existing USB ports on the microcomputer. The adjacent USB sockets and the Ethernet connection recessed into the housing remain accessible. They can be covered by a form-fitting insert.

The housing has a square basic shape with conically rounded corners. In the product design, I have visually separated the housing base and cover with a shadow gap. They are inserted into each other and can be removed for expansion and maintenance of the modules thanks to the screw connection under the feet.

3D printing for the design and production of the pilot series

All housing elements are optimised for additive manufacturing using FDM 3D printing. The parts inside are clearly aligned with the printer’s base plate. Necessary support structures are avoided thanks to flat bevels instead of hard edges, optimised wall thicknesses and stiffeners. 3D printing not only offers advantages for rapid prototyping in the product design process – design analyses, installation tests and functional tests. 3D printed parts can also be tested productively in use. In the start-up phase of product-based services, these can provide important findings for the later start of final product development.

This primarily technical and business-driven process contains some aspects that benefit the sustainability of the product in the long term:

  • the modular design guarantees repairability and technical expandability
  • the housings of the pre-series model are made from the bio-based plastic PLA and are fully recyclable
  • Before the energy-intensive production of injection moulds made of aluminium or steel, the product housing can already prove its manageability and functionality to users
  • As a service provider, noah is interested in the long-term satisfaction of its customers and the longevity of the product

The special challenge

Shortly before the design was released, another requirement was added: the memory on the underside of the microcomputer needed to remain accessible when installed for manual software updates. I designed an inspection opening that can be closed by a slide-in plate at the bottom of the housing.

Industrial design on behalf of noah GmbH