Steri-Spray – prototype appears on Dragons’ Den
During routine water testing at a hospital, Ian Helmore, a water treatment specialist, detected a positive Legionella sample on one of the showers. Legionnaire’s Disease is contracted by inhaling tiny droplets of infected water from showers; spray taps, air conditioning systems and spas, and can be potentially fatal. The hospital had to take all 50 of their showers out of service for two weeks whilst remedial work and retesting was carried out. Ian felt this was unacceptable for the welfare of both patients and staff, and as a result he invented the Steri-Spray® range of showers.
During its development, Ian needed to prototype his design in order to assemble and test it, as well as presenting an aesthetic model of it to potential investors. He therefore turned to 3T RPD Ltd and used their Rapid Prototyping expertise to obtain prototypes using their Selective Laser Sintering technology.
Ian used 3T RPD Ltd’s plastic Additive Manufacturing (AM) services to produce prototype components for his latest invention, Steri-Spray®. Ian also appeared on Dragon’s Den; BBC TWO’s business venture capitalist programme.
Ian was able to demonstrate the concept and potential need for the product to be installed in hotels, leisure centres, schools and universities, as well as in hospitals, to the Dragons; a panel of 5 successful multi-millionaire business people. His pitch was for a £145,000 investment for a 10% stake in his potentially life-saving invention.
Not all of the Dragon’s were convinced though. Duncan Bannatyne, who owns a chain of health clubs and hotels, thought the basic idea was flawed and refused to invest. It wasn’t a good start for Ian, but the other Dragons could see potential in the proposal, and once Ian told them of the impressive profit margins he was forecasting and the true size of the market for his product, Deborah Meaden made an offer for the full amount but asked for a 40% stake. Theo Paphitis was willing to split the deal with Deborah, and Ian secured the full £145,000 investment for 40% of his business shared between the two Dragons.
This investment meant that Steri-Spray® could move toward production within a very short period of time. More importantly, Deborah and Theo’s invaluable business experience will assist Ian in making Steri-Spray® become a worldwide commercial brand name.
Over 20 individual components that make up the shower system were produced in Nylon, including inserts, tubes, back plates, covers, connectors and the shower rose itself. The specialist team at 3T then expertly finished and painted the parts, making them look like the final manufactured product.
Ian Helmore says “The laser sintering process at 3T was new to me and just what was required to prove that our expensive tooling for Steri-Spray was going to be correct prior to ordering it. I was given a first rate, personal service by Ashley and all involved at 3T, from the moment I sent the files, to when I received the final finished products. The finishing process was absolutely superb and done with such attention to detail that people think they are the actual manufactured products. What a great way to see how your final end product is going to look, at a competitive price. I am currently working on further Steri-Spray designs and other ‘inventions’, and the designs will, of course, be proven at 3T first.”