Stem Cell Automate Rotating Device (S.C.A.R.D.)

            Emmecell (the sponsor of this project) is one of many research groups studying and producing stem cells via cell therapy.   Stem cells (and cell therapy) are becoming increasingly prevalent and important in 21st century medical solutions. Research groups are currently in the process of preparing to commercialize stem cells. However, many of these groups have run into the shared problem of transportation, specifically long distance transportation via airplane. During transportation, stem cells must be constantly agitated, else they will clump together and lose their beneficial medical properties. Furthermore, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) does not allow electronic devices to be running while a package is in storage on an airplane.  These constraints led to the creation of the Stem Cell Automated Rotating Device (SCARD), a spring driven, clock-like, rotating device that will house and agitate stem cells during shipping.
Functional Requirements
      • Function for 3 days
      • Rotation speed of 8 RPMs
      • Robust container for vials
      • Operate at 4 C
      • Contain a minimum of 6 vials
      • Comply with FAA laws


      • Agitate Cells for up to 7 days
      • Rotate cells in any orientation

            SCARD’s power source consists of constant torque springs. Each constant torque spring can provide 0.57 days of operations and the device can be modified to house as many springs are needed to achieve a desired time of operation.  The constant torque springs are wound around a drive spool from a storage spool. The drive spool is attached to the drive shaft which in turn is connected to the gearbox via a decoupling sleeve. This decoupling sleeve allows the springs to be wound without rotating the rest of the system. The constant torque springs are integrated into the design in a series configuration.  This allows one spring to do work on the system until its effective revolutions are done then the next spring will start to act on the system and so on.  

The release rate of the springs is set by a Swiss platform escapement balance wheel.  This balance wheel effectively acts like the pendulum inside a clock.  It oscillates at 5Hz, allowing the system to move a very small amount at each oscillation.  The vials/syringes that the stem cells are contained in are rotated by the output end of the gearbox via a timing belt.  This keeps the relatively fragile internals of SCARD protected while the user only needs to interface with the winding and vials themselves.  The device is to be then placed in a 4 °C Styrofoam box for shipping.

This device has the potential to revolutionize the cell therapy industry.  The ability to ship stem cells will allow production to enter into a mass production phase rather than a local laboratory setting.  This could then drive down prices for stem cells, thus making them more readily available for treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s, Diabetes, and Cancer. 

CAD - Final Design with Annotations