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What Has Happended To Today’s Medical Prototyping

Close-up of custom made orthoses

Tom Claes on Unsplash

Medical devices are increasingly important throughout the healthcare industry, especially nowadays the whole world is linked by the internet, and new products keep springing out. The medical devices development is undergoing a great challenge. Now not only the manufacturers, but also the designers and thinkers have to push themselves to improve or upgrade their technologies and concepts, therefore, the future generation of medical devices will have more new features and functions that close to human’s livings.

Brian Lawrence, chief technology officer at Hill-Rom Welch Allyn, used to say that the feature of the very first next-generation we need to look at is to create an ecosystem that enables the real-time capture, access to and predictive analysis of the rich data coming off our devices. That’s  why with the increasing requirement of the medical devices products, medical device prototyping, designers have to come to more new ideas and speed up their design verification method. One way of it is to build up prototypes to test functions and attract investment.

The fact that medical devices companies faced is that they have to design devices with easy control for patients and simple to access while using. It needs to make patients quiet and comfortable so that they can have a good mood while curing.

A Case of Change about Medical Device Designing

One of my clients who are special in medical devices designing used to adopt a logo with the green cool mark, and recently when they come to me for asking 10 sets of medical devices prototypes, their company logo on the new product just changed! It’s a new tidy logo with green color, green means hope I know, and tidiness makes you feel quiet and calm down while healing…It’s a simple device and easy to be carried. Patients can take it back home and access easily, in this way, they won’t need to go to the hospital frequently. We do offer them our best prototypes with a good finish and clearly & neatly logo marks.

The features of today’s device include micron of image resolution, an improvement in ECG signal fidelity, a more sensitive measure of respiration. But consumer devices are might good enough for many medical applications. Many designers will find themselves frustrated as users choose lower traditional quality sensors for many applications.

Today, people can buy an easy and simple medical device for one’s cell phone. These may not be good enough if thinking in a traditional way, but they are more likely to get more value than today’s designer’s thinking. When faced with cheap substitute serving an expensive traditional device, designers and consumers will have to consider what they should believe in order to get a better solution, or if they need to redesign or re-choosing better devices? That is a question.

 3D scan of a patient to create custom made orthoses

Modern Medical Device

With the development of high precision, biological compatibility and long usage of the modern medical devices, the material investigation and new material application plays a more and more important role, including aerospace materials, bionics new materials, and other new material. Now they have become the basic material of new modern medical devices. Therefore, when we producing the medical device prototype, we have to look into such new materials. Though this will affect the basic cost of medical devices, it will bring more opportunity to the performance and functions of the new devices.

On the other hand, the consuming markets also link closely to the medical devices. Recently, the consuming healthy market gets a better development in increasing aging and upcoming amounts of patients, and because of this, the medical devices can grow steadily. That’s why now the designing work to bringing more new & simple medical devices is so important in order to make people’s lives better and easier.

Even though now the market tends to search biological materials, for prototypes mostly we still use the most common materials that are easy to approach to, especially for prototypes only suitable for testing and verification, which will not reach end-users.

Therefore, most of the medical devices prototype that we machine here is the full assembly without electronic parts, for example, the top covers, bottom covers, buttons or panels. The material for covers that we normally use are plastics, such as ABS, abs+pc, or silicone molding material like similar ABS, or similar PC. These are already enough for the shells. And after finish painting, the finish will be very good-looking. After that, we silk screen the artwork on the covers to make it as a real product. It can be used in applications like expo, samples showcase, testing parts and so on.

Medical Devices By CNC And 3D Prototyping

I have been made many medical devices prototypes for our client with different colors and functions in different applications. For example, we have made diagnose scanner to check dental problem, which connects to the HDMI device to reflect the problem that one has for the teeth or gingiva; and we also make products for clients to search the possibility of free-of-drug product to freezing their paint or anxious toward cannabis, and brain scanner prototypes; all these products are the next generations and will help people’s life to grow better and better.

Besides the precision machining by CNC to maintain the tolerance of assembly, now many medical device manufacturers want the US Food and Drug Administration to provide more clarification on the guidance toward 3D printing. Though the tolerance of 3D printing is not as good as CNC machining, the technology still can be selected because the cost for prototypes by it can be lower in some way if the volume is large and not critical for the dimension in the early stage.

The good news is that the FDA has approved 85 3D printing devices in 2015 and manufacturers are working on more guideline specifications, operating procedures, regulatory issues and lots of other criteria. This will help the whole world market start to investigate the development of 3D printing devices to benefit the entire medical devices industry, and in the coming years or decades, the cost for making prototypes will be cheaper and cheaper.