It’s hard to spend three days at a medical devices show like last month’s MD&M West and not start to think about someday being a patient who is counting on the exciting new technologies in development.
That’s why it was reassuring to find that, overall, the conversations with OEMs at this year’s show were much more about product quality and technical details than about price. Personally and professionally, I was eager to address these challenges. Here are the two most frequent questions we answered.
“What tolerances can you hold?”
Tolerance is a complex issue because it depends on the geometry, material selection, etc. of each piece. But tight tolerances are very possible. The most challenging part that I’ve personally worked with was a surgical tool for the eye care industry that had a core pin tolerance of +0.0005” / - 0.0000. Better processes and technologies make such exacting requirements easier every day.
“How small of a part can you make?”
As a molder dedicated to the medical and electronics industries, we’re no stranger to micro molding. Attendees interested in intricate shapes and geometries built into parts as small as a single plastic pellet had plenty to see at our display table.
There also was a lot of interest in and—to my surprise— a lot of awareness of advanced production processes such as scientific molding, which helps monitor and validate these seemingly impossibly small parts. Goals such as shot-to-shot traceability are on the minds of many, even those who don’t specialize.
Of course, everyone still wants a fair price on a plastic part. But it’s good to see people putting quality and reliability first in medical devices … especially when I consider that it could be me as the patient one day.
Dan Snyder, handles technical sales at Plastikos, an injection molder, specializing in engineering grade and specialty grade thermoplastics. Dan holds a plastic engineering degree from Penn State Behrend. When he’s not working, he’s usually tackling an Ironman competition or an expedition race.