Jim Shaikh’s first son, Danial, arrived six weeks early, weighing all of 3 pounds and in need of milk every two hours. In the middle of the night, Shaikh would wake up, retrieve breast milk from the fridge, and begin warming the bottle in a pan of hot water on the stove. “Sometimes I would fall back asleep, and everyone upstairs would be screaming at me,” Shaikh says. “Other times I would overheat the milk. I just wasn’t very good at it.”
Shaikh, an engineer who previously helped design cars for BMW, decided to invent his way out of any paternal inadequacies. He conceived of a bottle to heat milk instantly to a specified temperature and was able to test it without building prototype after prototype. Instead, Shaikh largely brought his product to life digitally, using software from Ansys, a Canonsburg (Pa.)-based company that has quietly cornered the market on manufacturing simulation. Ansys’s models showed Shaikh how different plastics would behave when heated up and how varying nipple designs would affect milk flow. “Everything is simulated these days,” says Shaikh.