Developing a medical product is a backbreaking task. Not only does your medical product design should meet a lot of standards but you should also pass a number of clinical trials to go into the market.

If you want to succeed, the transition from a concept into a fully functional prototype should happen as fast as possible. In order to achieve that, a number of rapid prototyping and manufacturing solutions for the whole range of medical appliances have been developed.

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RAPID DEVELOPMENT OF INNOVATIVE MEDICAL DEVICES

The process of developing an enterprise-grade medical device is complex and costly, to say the least. The development process can even become a failure. However, some innovators, who take into account not only the conceptual but the practical parts of development as well, succeed in creating cost-effective medical breakthroughs. The only possible way to a achieve that is to create medical prototypes on every stage of the development.

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  • Proof-of-concept prototypes will help you understand whether your idea can be put into practice in the first place. Having manufactured this prototype at the earliest stage of development, you will be able to see the functionality, and the main problems to solve at the later development stages.
  • Mockup and visual presentation models can show investors, developers, and their colleagues what the product will look like.
  • Functional prototypes are the main units to verify the efficiency of the proposed device. They are manufactured and remanufactured again and again to perfect the performance of the designed product. Functional prototype development is one of the vital testing processes if you want to create a truly innovative design.
  • Engineering prototypes will help you verify the manufacturing process once the final design was established. Bottleneck places in production are identified at this stage and as a result, the lead time for the device gets much shorter, hence lower costs.
  • Rapid tooling and low-volume production runs can help you while you scale up to a complete mass production. You can bring your device into the market first, while your competitors wait for highly complicated injection molds to be manufactured.

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MEDICAL AND HEALTH PRODUCTS PROTOTYPING

Experiences That Successfully Lead You from Prototype To Production

The main point of medical innovation is to create an efficient medical device that will be useful and sought for in the market. However, even if the idea and the design are top-notch, the medical device prototyping may pose a very hard task if you don’t have experience in that area. That is why employing a medical rapid prototyping shop that can deliver high-quality jobs in a small amount of time may be an idea to think of. If you leave all the manufacturing troubles for the professionals, you can concentrate on the feedback you will be getting from tests and how to improve the design instead of worrying about the production schedule. Some prototyping centers offer redesign and remanufacturing options so that you can make improvements and get new prototypes even faster.

In order to create functional and engineering prototypes, professional equipment may be required. The most widespread equipment used to create medical device prototypes is CNC machine tools, grinding and polishing tools, 3D-printers, urethane casting stations, rapid injection molds. The whole set of prototyping equipment is quite costly and purchasing it may be too expensive. It is another reason to consider professional prototyping centers. Let’s look at what kinds of operations are most common in medical device manufacturing processes.

CNC Precision Machining For Medical Devices And Parts

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High precision can only be achieved through CNC machining and finishing processes. That is why visual models, functional prototypes are predominantly manufactured by CNC machining processes. High-tolerance manufacturing can be either 3-axis or 5-axis depending on the complexity of the part surfaces to keep the cutting tool perpendicular to the machined surface. As a result, you can get a perfect mirror-like (after minimal polishing) surface with an exceptional precision.

The main advantages of medical CNC machining are

  • The widest range of machined materials, such as production-grade plastic and various materials
  • Excellent precision, surface finish and repeatability
  • Once the machine tool has been prepared, you can set it to manufacture parts non-stop

The scalability of medical device machining is outstanding since you only have to change the cutting tool to manufacture more parts.

3D Printing Drives Innovation In The Medical Industry

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Additive manufacturing(AM) or as it is often called, 3D-printing is a new rapid medical prototyping process that is developing at a tremendous pace. New materials are being created and adopted, new technologies appear and old ones are being improved to create better, more detailed and precise prototypes. 3D- printing is a process of curing or sintering material ( metal, polymer or sand)  layer-by-layer in accordance with the product 3D-model. Additive manufacturing requires no tooling and the resulting part has a good surface finish and precision.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Stereolithography (SLA) processes provide the best results currently. Note, that using additive manufacturing for your product may require some redesign since the process is very specific, however, the resulting design may be even better because of the capabilities AM offers.

Urethane Casting for Small-Scale Innovation In Medical Products

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Urethane casting is a way to manufacture high-quality plastic parts without the need to make an expensive steel mold. It can have a lot of uses in the Medical Industry. First, you can use this technique to launch your product into the market faster. While costly injection molds are still being manufactured, you can already start making money with silicone molds.

In some cases, conventional injection molding isn’t even necessary. Your whole production program may fit into urethane casting capacity. With urethane casting, you won’t have to pay for hard tooling.

Vacuum urethane casting will get you a good combination of part quality and lead-time once you have the master model. It offers good flexibility when you are on the border between prototyping and mass production.

Rapid Injection Molding And Low-Volume Production For Medical Applications

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Rapid Injection Molding (RIM) is an ideal choice for Low-volume medical device rapid manufacturing. If you need a low volume of molded parts, you should consider this method as it offers a lot of advantages: manufacturability analysis, test runs, the demonstration for investors and a better readiness for mass production. The last one is the most important.

RIM technology uses easily manufacturable and customizable injection molds. They can withstand up to 100,000 runs and they are flexible enough to be used for prototyping. Rapid injection molding covers the gap between prototyping and mass production.

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