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"I didn't do any focus groups for the One - I've met over 20,000 clinicians over the years so I have a mental repository of their thoughts. I didn't know how to delegate that knowledge and decided to do the whole design myself, from concept to the last line of software.
I suggested ideas to doctors and nurses and listened carefully, not just to what people said, but how they said it. Many of my ideas were well received and others rejected outright. Some of the well-received ideas never made it into the One, and some outright rejections did. Sometimes people have to see something to want it.
Design is a process of creativity and choices. My guess is that I made a few hundred thousand choices. I actually designed a stethoscope from 2010 to 2011 and didn't like it. So I started over. I decided that quality would rule and cost would have to follow. My father had taught me to always buy quality. So shouldn't I be designing quality so others could buy quality?"
- Clive Smith
The One uses materials and parts not usually found in stethoscopes:
High strength sapphire crystal, robust enough to be used in deep-sea chronometers
Precision-machined aluminum, hand-polished by people who work with satellite systems and other advanced applications requiring perfect finish
Specialized electronic components that are custom manufactured for Thinklabs
Gold-plated connectors and jacks to ensure low impedance connections
Design refinements that focus on minutae, which achieve the last details of performance.
What does this mean to you as a clinician? Pick up a Thinklabs One, feel the instrument in your hands and listen to your patients. Then you'll know.
Assembled in America
"During the design process, I worked with 3D printing, making prototype parts I'd designed for injection molding. Injection molds are a straight-jacket for creativity - once you design something, it's difficult to change. I thought, 'Why not break new ground and do 3D printing for actual production?' This would liberate me - I could keep improving the product! So I re-designed the inner parts for 3D production printing. This is rare - most 3D today is still used only for prototypes. The results far exceeded my expectations and I've been able to keep innovating.
Rethinking production led me to a decision to bring the entire assembly process in-house. I could manage the quality control more closely and make sure design intent translated into the quality of every unit produced. So we're assembling the One in America. In an age of outsourced production, this is a huge reversal.
You're probably wondering why not 'Made in America?' The reason is that some parts are made overseas. I needed to find the best factories. Some assemblies are made by robotics in Asia and other components are imported. But most of what you see - the beautiful craftsmanship - is indeed made in America."
- Clive Smith
NASA image of North America