Protolabs helps Arrow Lake develop ozone system that cuts costs by 20%
|At A Glance|
To prototype a component for Arrow Lake’s The FLO3W®, a circular system where ozone is injected into cleaning water, with ozone levels constantly measured and adjusted for optimal purification. Ozone effectively kills bacteria, mould, fungal spores and other microorganisms found in soil, and the system is used by wholesalers to wash vegetables, berries, fruit and herbs in a cost-efficient and sustainable way. The focus for Protolabs was to produce a prototype that Arrow Lake could test in the overall design of The FLO3W® system and to manufacture the part cost-effectively on-demand going forward.
Arrow Lake was able to make a rapid decision about the feasibility of their part by using Protolabs’ automated solution to get an immediate initial analysis of manufacturability and cost-effectiveness – with Protolabs offering additional manufacturing support if needed. When finalised, a model of the part was downloaded from the Protolabs solution and integrated and tested in the final overall design.
An injection moulding tool was manufactured, and then the prototype was produced. After a final inspection, Arrow Lake placed an order for 400 parts, and these are now included in the solution, which is being delivered to customers all over the world. Arrow Lake are able to produce more on-demand, and they are also focusing on other industries where ozone cleaning is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution, such as land-based fish farms. At the same time, they intend to continue innovating with the help of Protolabs.
The Swedish company Arrow Lake AB develops systems that use ozone to purify water and air. The company's customers include wholesalers who wash and package vegetables, berries, fruit and herbs with the company's unique system, The FLO3W®.
Ozone is a gas that occurs naturally in our atmosphere and has several properties that make it perfect for cleaning and disinfecting air and water. Already in 1906, the first ozone-based purification plant for drinking water was built in Nice, and today there are many solutions and products for creating and adding ozone to air and water.
One area where the use of ozone is now increasing is for washing vegetables, fruit and berries. Ozone effectively kills bacteria, mould, fungal spores and other microorganisms found in the soil. Water with the addition of ozone is also an environmentally friendly method because the ozone breaks down into its natural components without any dangerous residues that need to be cleaned. Correctly applied ozone also contributes to a longer shelf life.
Arrow Lake was founded in 2016 by Ali Jehanfard, Claes Gustafsson, Olof Österlind and Martin Belohorka. Since its inception, Arrow Lake has focused on developing systems such as QUBE® and The FLO3W®. Both of these contribute to more energy-efficient solutions and help customers reduce their consumption of water. Energy efficiency and reduced waste pervade everyday life for everyone at Arrow Lake.
The FLO3W® is based on a circular process that begins by adding ozone, mixing it with water until it is completely dissolved, and then continuously measuring the ozone level in the water and adjusting the amount as needed. The result for customers is a more efficient system, products that require less refrigeration, have a longer shelf life and the use of chemicals is reduced. The solution is used to treat everything from pomegranates, peaches, apricots, cherries, basil and parsley to carrots, potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower all over the world.
Customers have reported that they were able to cut their overall costs by as much as 20% after installing The FLO3W® from Arrow Lake.
QUBE®, which is Arrow Lake's ozone generator series, is also used in already established application areas, such as sanitising drinking and wastewater and Arrow Lake has several international contracts in these areas.
One of the great advantages of The FLO3W® is that the ozone is injected directly into the water. With other solutions on the market, a large part of the ozone often disappears into the air, so-called off-gas. This means that it is difficult to know how much ozone has actually dissolved in the water and it may not be enough to work effectively. The FLO3W®, on the other hand, provides continuous measurable and stable levels of ozone that prevents the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms in the water.
Because The FLO3W® is so resource-efficient, the water does also not need to be changed as often, resulting in both lower costs and less environmental impact.
Protolabs the obvious partner
Arrow Lake has partnered with product development company OIM to create the ozone generators. As Protolabs has previously collaborated with OIM, they were an obvious choice to develop the prototype for one of the parts of the ozone generator.
"We have worked with Protolabs on many projects and we have very good experience with them. They have great competence and are fast and responsive which really suits us," said Claes Gustafsson at OIM.
As for so many others, the collaboration with Protolabs began with the customer uploading their CAD design to Protolabs’ automated solution. There, they received immediate feedback in terms of manufacturability with specific indications about what in the design needed to be adjusted and with recommendations if it was a necessary change or a minor recommendation.
"It's really a solution that's easy to use and that I've used several times before," said Claes. “Based on the recommendations, I made some minor changes and uploaded the model again to check. After a few such iterations the phone rang and it was Protolabs contacting me. They had noticed that it was mostly fine tuning and called to say that the design looked fine and that there would be no problem manufacturing the part. Sometimes it can be difficult to know how a change affects the manufacturing or the material so I appreciated that they were so proactive and reached out unprompted. It saved a lot of time and made the whole process easier.”
"What's also so good about Protolabs is that as part of the process they can produce a model, which I can then download and run together with the rest of the design in my computer," added Claes. “This allows me to see how the part works together with the rest of the solution.”
To customers all over the world
An injection moulding tool was manufactured and then the prototype. After, a final inspection order for 400 parts was placed and these are now included in the solution which is on its way out to customers all over the world.
"It all worked very well and now that there is a tool, it's just for us to order more if and when needed," said Arrow Lakes CTO Martin Belohorka.
Arrow Lake is now looking towards the future. Other industries where QUBE® and The FLO3W® can be used to advantage include cleaning the water in land-based fish farms.
“Our solution makes the water crystal clear while helping to save energy by increasing the efficiency of heat exchangers”, said Jürgen Bischhaus, Sales Manager at Arrow Lake.
While Arrow Lake is ramping up sales to existing industries such as the food sector, they’re also constantly thinking about innovation and where to find new uses for ozone. Ozone is a sustainable and future-proof way of helping the environment, by reducing food waste and reducing the use of both water and chemicals.