engineer measuring light pipe design

Crisis ColLAB & Coronavirus:
One Year, Many Contributions

It’s still hard to believe and accept that it’s been a year since the COVID 19 pandemic changed our lives forever. As painful as the last 12 months have been, it’s important to reflect on some of the great strides we’ve made by working together to end this virus and get the world back on track.

On March 30, 2020, we launched Crisis ColLAB, VCC’s effort to contribute to the cause in the best and most valuable ways possible — by donating our design services for medical and PPE companies supplying the frontlines, including:

engineer measuring light pipe design

Design software for creating and testing solutions

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3D printing know-how and machinery

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Proven performance in designing and prototyping PCB assemblies, light engines, and other electronic components

Since its inception, Crisis ColLAB has been a multi-team, multi-pronged initiative. Here’s a recap of our efforts in this fight:  

Procurement & donation of existing components

We collaborated with internal teams and our global distributor network to:

  • Donate 2,000 components used in defibrillators to a distributor for use in Italy
  • Prioritize medical and pandemic-related projects over all others for our design and engineering teams
  • Speed up production for 65,000+ components to be used in ventilators and respirators
  • Ensure all of our designs could be produced with in-stock components to avoid delays
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Donation of design services for mission-critical medical device

VCC’s primary focus for Crisis ColLAB was to put our design and light pipe expertise to work in combating the virus. One vaccine delivery device manufacturer enlisted our free design services to optimize an existing product — and fast.

It definitely seemed like the odds were stacked against us, with challenges including:

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Team Safety

Our designers and engineers needed to work remotely for social distancing and safety protocols, alternating shifts when work in our Design LAB was required.

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For mission-critical devices in the race for a cure, speed was crucial to get the device ready for clinical trials before it could be deployed to citizens.
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Adding to the challenge, our team had to provide substantial documentation for the origins of all components all the way down the supply chain.
Reducing Supply Chain Risks freight


Because the global supply chain was crippled, even shipping prototypes for review required air freight for expedited delivery.

The issues listed above were only part of our mission — we also had to work within the design constraints of an existing device. 

While the original scope was to optimize the design of the three status indicators, the scope evolved once the client realized VCC’s capabilities.

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Design Process

  • Optimized light pipe design for three separate indicators 
  • Produced several one-time use tools to show proof of concept 
  • Conducted multiple light simulations
  • Printed 3D prototypes printed in-house
  • Made subsequent aesthetic updates during production


  • Reduced light loss and increased efficacy by a total of 1,561% 
  • Enhanced accuracy and uniformity by adding a textured lens to each light pipe
  • On-time delivery, even through late-stage design revisions thanks to air freighting due to global shipping backlogs

Increased Light Pipe Efficiency

Overall light pipe efficiency

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VCC Design

  • 127% Efficiency 98% 98%

Previous Design

  • 30.83% Efficiency 20% 20%
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Our client enlisted our help in July of 2020, with prototypes delivered and revised throughout August and October. Full delivery of the first batch came in December, with the device on target for clinical trials.


collab prototype timeline of delivery


We donated the design services through multiple revisions and scope changes, while the client covered late-round prototypes, tooling, and production costs.

Since then, the innovative device has been used in multiple clinical trials with data on track for review in early 2021.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team for navigating all of the challenges and hurdles required to perfect this device and get it into production as quickly as possible, It was a true collaboration and I’m confident this device will lead to great strides in beating COVID 19.”

Thomas Macon
VP of Sales, VCC

Shared Knowledge with Manufacturers Worldwide

In addition to donating design services and products, we helped manufacturers in a range of industries determine what their next steps could and should be.

To help those companies whose production came to a screeching halt due to shutdowns in China and supply chain disruptions just about everywhere, our CEO, Andy Zanelli, participated in interviews and panel discussions along with other experts:

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The Future of Manufacturing in the United States

presented by Insomnicat Media, a marketing services company centered around helping businesses inspire and educate.

pandemic response manufacturing

State of Manufacturing: CEO Insights

presented by Oden Technologies, industrial automation and AI-powered analytics provider.

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Electronics Companies Stepping Up in Fight Against COVID-19

also presented by Insomnicat Media.

While we are still battling coronavirus, the end is in sight. We’re proud of the contributions we made to helping frontline workers, clinical researchers, vaccine producers, and manufacturers throughout this crisis.

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