Scios 2

Thermo Scientific
Design of a cover for an electron microscope from the portfolio of the leader in electron microscopes Thermo Scientific, specifically Thermo Fisher Scientific based in Brno.

Design process described below.
More information about the microscope model on the official website of the manufacturer:

making of

The covers on the microscope can be divided into three parts - the top (column cover), the middle (chamber door cover) and the bottom (console cover). The process addressed the design of all three parts.

For new models or new generations that have differently occupied chamber ports and different column construction, the same cover can be applied for both chamber and console, with slight variations. The overall enclosure thus becomes a modular kit that provides a distinctive look and builds brand image, reduces the cost of enclosure development and production, simplifies orders and speeds up development due to its versatility.
As a result, it has been successfully in production for over 10 years even with current models and generations with changing column covers

Original FEI microscope design

The analysis of the previous covers revealed several problems that should have been corrected.
  1. In the previous generation, a glued MDF board was used on the console cover, which was then milled into an arc in a technologically complex way. A technologically complex, expensive and uncertain solution that caused problems in manufacturing, maintenance and durability. It was also very heavy due to its size and thickness.
  2. The microscope's operation signalling was housed in a large plastic box and cased around.
  3. The faceplate of the console housing was also modeled after the table top with a large radius reinforced on the inside. In size it was large, heavy, more laborious to make and required the use of a hoof.
  4. The polycarbonate column cover was costly in terms of manufacturing, technology and time.
  5. The visual cumbersomeness of the overall design and parts.

new design

The proposed changes were implemented and eliminated the problems mentioned above. They simplified and made the overall production process cheaper and quicker. The change also became visual.

The arc, which visually made the microscope even more bulky and heavy, was replaced with flat surfaces, following the shape of the arc. The resulting two edges, which broke up the original fluent surface, thus visually helped to reduce the massive and heavy impression, and also added rigidity to the front cover, which no longer needed to be reinforced on the inside, but rather lightened. (The two vertical edges not only broke up the otherwise massive surface into visually more digestible smaller areas, but also helped the optical lightening with their vertical orientation. Similarly, the principle of dividing into three surfaces works, with only the middle one being the frontal one and the other two receding to the sides, eliminating the impression of overall width.)

The original cumbersome design of the console cover is further helped by such details as the dynamic shape of the cutout for the sheet metal indicator light indicating the status of the microscope. The fact that the front cover plate is forward of this makes the solution practical when the microscope is otherwise uncovered (in the case of servicing and development of new microscopes and generations). In this case, the dimensionally small cover plate with the indicator remains in place, still fulfilling its function.

From the left: Scios 1st generation, Scios 2nd generation, Scios 2nd generation rebranded for Thermo Scientific

The cover for the chamber was designed accordingly. The technologically determined sharp and dynamic lines of the milled chamber body define a natural shape and solid feeling, which I respected for the other parts of the covers to ensure that the shape connects with the rest of the microscope into a compact natural-looking whole. The dynamic lines of the edges and perforations of the covers further help to visually lighten the overall mass and give a lighter impression. The design was also based on creating a symmetry that makes the instrument look grown-up and detailed.

The most complex and challenging phase of the design was to create a cover for the column that would successfully avoid the already occupied ports from the chamber, but also allow the chamber ports to be occupied by third party manufacturers' products, fulfill its covering function, but not create a drum effect and thus amplify the subtle vibrations and not transfer to the body of the column, fulfill the aesthetic function as well, ideally symetric, maintain the corporate design, be timeless and synonymous with a hitech device. For such a technically and visually complex device, it was also advisable to conceal the internal complexity of the shape as much as possible, so that the device would have an overall more welcoming, less complicated, and therefore easier to use feel.
The last change was a change in colour scheme. The dark cover from the console helped to subdue its size and at the same time divide the overall instrument into visually more understandable smaller parts, especially the important service part above the console.