Design + and Inferneco: an innovative partnership

Design + Technology Gateway at IT Carlow and Inferneco partnered on the design and development of an intelligent UV sanitising system for bottle beverages.

Inferneco and Design+ innovation to sterilise the necks of beverage bottles immediately prior to consumption

Inferneco/Pureneck is an innovative Irish company who have a specific interest in the hospitality industry. Within the hospitality sector, a large number (approx. 30%) of beverages are consumed from the neck of glass bottles. Bottles are usually visually clean but not sanitised. For the complete sanitisation of the bottleneck, the cap needs to be fully removed. Inferneco have identified a potential solution to this problem using UV light and approached the Design + Gateway at IT Carlow to explore how this solution could be brought to market.  

The first phase of the project was to examine and explore other possible solutions to sanitising and in turn define a clear direction for the design of a new concept. The new concept had to be able to sanitise a bottle within two seconds and also needed to include a safe sealing system so as not allow the user to be exposed to any UV light. Design+ followed their bespoke innovation process and the following ideation and evaluation sessions came up with the most suitable prototype, the purpose of which was to test and validate the concept. The housings for the prototypes were all 3D printed inhouse using Institute of Technology Carlow's class-leading 3D printers. This allowed them to iterate quickly and produce high-quality models that were able to withstand the testing phase which was performed in the environment of a busy pub/nightclub. The unit’s electronics were also designed and built by the Technology Gateway team within the Institute. 

The test results were positive for sanitizing the bottle in two seconds and feedback from the user was excellent. Following further on-site testing, the design was revised, and more iterations/updates were created to advance the system.  A new 3D printing resin with improved thermal and mechanical performance was also used and proved to be very beneficial at this phase. 

Overall, the project was a success and collaboration with other Technology Gateways in CIT and WIT was key to this achievement. During the testing phase, the prototype was sent to the CAPPA Gateway in Cork Institute of Technology who proved that the system could sanitise the bottle in two seconds and that there was no UV exposure to the user, these were the two main objectives of the project. The Design+ team also worked alongside the TSSG Gateway in Waterford Institute of Technology. The team there were instrumental in helping Design+ to create a Windows-based User Interface (UI) application that increased the devices functionality. The company now has 8 x prototypes that they are using to approach multiple international breweries so that they can get funding to bring this to the next phase. Large scale manufacturing costs can now be calculated and the true potential can be explored. 

Design+ at IT Carlow provides businesses with opportunities to increase productivity and create value in products and services in both traditional and emerging sectors. Through R&D Design+ supports companies in creating intuitive products and sustainable solutions.  Design + can assist companies to develop new products and services that strengthen competitiveness, lead to long-term commercial viability and growth and maximise return on investment.  Design+ uses a collective approach bringing interdisciplinary knowledge and skills from Design, Engineering, Biosciences and Information Communication Technologies to achieve the best outcome for industry. 

Design+ is part of the Technology Gateway network and is funded by Enterprise Ireland in partnership with 11 Institutes of Technologies nationwide. It provides close-to-market technology solutions that allow companies to develop new products, processes and services by leveraging the research expertise available within each Institute of Technology.