Case Studies


DAME applicator cascade

Design transition of a reusable tampon applicator from concept to rapid tooling


UK-based start-up, DAME, is on a mission to become the first zero-plastic brand of menstrual products with a negative carbon footprint. DAME has developed a revolutionary reusable tampon applicator designed to work with a range of organic tampons free from rayon, bleach, and pesticides.


DAME contracted ITL to develop their initial prototype design further to produce a more ergonomic design suitable for future mass production following a marketing study.

After DAME advertised the potential for their product in the US market, we produced a detailed report highlighting the FDA classification of menstrual tampons. We provided current examples of materials used within approved devices.

The project required involvement from engineers with an understanding of the requirements for plastic moldings and similar techniques. The initial design was remodeled into our CAD system, and several iterations of the design were created.

We produced numerous in-house 3D prints to aid the design process, significantly reducing the time between design iterations and allowing for high-speed, low-cost prototyping. Once a design solution had been reached, the production of multiple sets of vacuum cast prototypes was outsourced via our established supply chain.

Design improvements included:

  • Introduction of finger scallops for better grip of the applicator
  • Improvements to structural ribbing to improve plunger operation
  • Reduced taper angle to improve comfort
  • Revised string routing to reduce string and knot release issues
  • Bettering the petal design to improve the release of the tampon

The prototypes incorporated material simulants and finishing processes to create polished concept models that were as realistic and robust as possible without excessive investment in tooling. The models included various colors and material hardness, allowing the client to test a variety of finishes before heading towards production.


The final prototypes highlight the initial design changes, and they continue to provide valuable insight that will feed forward into the next phase, bringing the customer’s concept to manufacturing.

Alec Mills, Co-founder, DAME, commented, “DAME came to ITL with a very clear vision and a very basic prototype. While we knew what we wanted, it was clear we were going to need help to bring our idea to life. There were distinct requirements of the device and, after a reassuring first meeting, it was clear ITL understood the challenges. The friendly – and most importantly – plain-speaking team explained their decisions at every step so we felt included in the design process. They met our deadlines and fulfilled all our criteria, with a few extra phone calls at key junctions to keep the process transparent.

DAME reusable tampon applicator


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