Department - Author 1

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Mechanical Engineering



Primary Advisor

Peter Schuster


Clinical Supplies Management, Inc. (CSM) provides clinical trial services to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies by shipping pharmaceuticals to clinics and other patients. In winter 2014, CSM presented a temperature control packaging project to the Cal Poly Senior Project class. As a result, three Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering Students were tasked to design, manufacture, and qualify a shipping container that would maintain ten 10 mL vials between 2-8°C for 96 hours. The final product would have to cost less to ship than the Credo Cube, CSM’s current temperature control packaging product. After considerable research and analysis on possible temperature control technologies, it was determined that the most reliable and economical solution was similar technology to the Credo Cube.

The main features of the product are as follows:

  1. Vacuum Insulated Paneling (VIP) is used as a thermal resistor to reduce the heat transfer from the surroundings to the payload
  2. Phase change material (PCM) maintains the desired payload temperature

An optimization for the specified payload was performed by creating designs to reduce the tare weight, and dimensional weight using the above technologies.

During the manufacturing phase, the selected vendor for phase change material was unwilling to accommodate a lead time within the senior project’s scope. This was believed to be partially due to the low volume and direct competition of the potential product. CSM was in contact with the vendor, and it was decided that the legal steps needed to move forward with the selected PCM would be too far outside of the project’s scope. Consequently, it was decided between the project team and CSM that using water as a prototype PCM was acceptable. Instead of a final product, a proof of concept prototype and a calculator that would help CSM redesign the product if other VIP or PCM were to be pursued in the future acted as the final deliverables.

Although the prototype was not able to maintain temperature within range for 96 hours, the design can easily be scaled to do so with further testing and the use of the provided calculator.

The following report details the design, manufacture, and qualification of the shipping container prototype.