Design1st Helps SwabBot Engineer Industrial Cleaning Cobot

Design 1st and Swabbot Elevate Industrial Cleaning with Collaborative Robot Solution Engineered for Precision, Safety, and Efficiency

The pioneering cobot addresses industry challenges of confined spaces and operational safety through automation, sensor technology, and streamlined user-centric design.

May 14, 2024Design 1st, one of the most prolific full-service product design-engineering firms across North America, in partnership with Swabbot, announced today the launch of the collaborative robot (cobot) aimed at redefining industrial cleaning. Developed in collaboration with Swabbot CEO Rick Mineo, Design 1st was integral in the design, development, and go-to-market of the cobot that addresses industry challenges including cleaning validation processes in large confined spaces, enhancing safety, efficiency, and reliability.

Swabbot originated from a prototype brought to Design 1st. The goal was to refine and scale the concept into an autonomous cobot capable of meeting the rigorous demands of industrial cleaning applications. Key design requirements included reducing size, enhancing navigation capabilities, automating pressure control, simplifying controls, and utilizing advanced materials for optimal performance.

Swabbot’s early success has garnered acclaim and validation from industry experts following the debut of its pre-production prototype debut at the ISPE CASA Tech Show in Raleigh.

“In developing Swabbot, we’ve not only created a transformative solution for industrial cleaning but also epitomized the power of collaboration and innovation,” said Rick Mineo, CEO of Swabbot. “Design 1st’s expertise has been instrumental in bringing our vision to life, and Swabbot’s early success underscores its potential to revolutionize cleaning validation processes.”

Engineering Challenges Met with Innovation

The evolution of Swabbot into a proficient cobot presented significant engineering challenges, which Design 1st tackled with ingenuity and precision. Overcoming obstacles related to size, automation, and operational safety was paramount to ensure the cobot’s effectiveness in real-world applications.

To facilitate Swabbot’s maneuverability within confined spaces, a wooden tank mock-up was meticulously crafted to mimic authentic tank dimensions. This mock-up enabled Swabbot to navigate intricate geometries and reach distances of up to 30 feet while applying consistent force, ensuring thorough cleaning outcomes.

Design 1st implemented advanced sensors to enhance precision in cobot placement on diverse surfaces, facilitating seamless swabbing across varied orientations. A robust mechanical fail-safe system was then integrated to prevent operational errors and safeguard both the cobot and its surroundings during cleaning procedures, bolstering operational reliability and safety.

Finally, the user interface underwent a comprehensive redesign to streamline adoption and reduce operator training time by 40%, enhancing usability and empowering operators to efficiently control Swabbot, effectively augmenting productivity in cleaning validation processes.

Swabbot’s Unparalleled Results

Following extensive testing and development efforts by Design 1st, Swabbot emerged as a solution poised to elevate industry standards in cleaning validation. Key results include achieving more consistent and higher contaminant recovery rates compared to manual swabbing methods, ensuring thorough cleaning validation, crucial for regulatory compliance and product safety.

Swabbot also significantly reduces the need for operator training, thereby lowering labor costs and enhancing productivity. By automating cleaning procedures, Swabbot minimizes human exposure to confined tank spaces, creating a safer workplace environment.

“Swabbot represents the culmination of relentless innovation and collaboration,” said Kevin Bailey, President and CEO at Design 1st. “Our partnership with Swabbot exemplifies our commitment to transforming visionary concepts into tangible solutions that redefine industry norms.”

Additional Resources

About Design 1st
Design 1st is one of the most trusted full-service product design firms across North America, with a seasoned team consisting of diverse technical expertise, over 1,000 projects developed, and 130 client patents secured. From Startup to Enterprise, we enable companies to quickly scale capabilities throughout their new product development programs by leveraging our core competencies in industrial design, mechanical engineering, electronics engineering, embedded firmware, and manufacturing setup. Design 1st’s plug-in experienced team has helped clients transform their physical ideas into commercialized hardware products across a variety of industries and influenced millions of people globally. To learn more, visit

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