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June 8, 2007
4 Min Read
Originally Published MPMN June 2007
Prototyping and Rapid Prototyping
Jennifer Ponti, director of sales and marketing, G&L Precision Die Cutting, San Jose, CA.
Rapid prototyping is a critical part of many design engineers’ design and validation protocols in the medical device industry today. It can be the difference between a profitable business venture and a product that is too late to market.
Prototypes allow testing of alternative materials with the same design, help engineers better understand and validate their product design, and determine the manufacturing process that will be used to produce the device. Partnering with a converter in the product development stage can save time and money, allowing the OEM to get products to market faster.
Following are some key points to know about outsourcing prototyping services.
Typical thought on turnaround is days or even hours, but there are also times when rapid means a few weeks instead of months, depending on the complexity of the manufacturing method and tooling requirements.
With a completed CAD drawing, turnaround for laser-cut prototypes can be as fast as 24 hours. Laser cutting is economical in that it does not require any tooling and allows for slight variations of the same part to be tested by the OEM.
A steel rule die is fairly inexpensive when compared with an injection mold or a blanking or rotary die. If a new design is being developed that will require a mold, initial manufacturing can often be done with a steel rule die and provide material for clinical trials or early entry into the marketplace with a 3-4 week typical lead time.
Tolerances of prototypes often parallel the finished product and far surpass the capabilities of hand-made samples.
In summary, rapid prototyping can eliminate the guesswork in design by allowing engineers to test concept variations with fairly low cost and improved accuracy over hand-designed or mock-up products.
Company Introduces First-To-Market Program
A provider of microfabrication services offers a program that will enable its clients to bring their new products to market quickly. The F2M program delivers high-quality prototypes in a fast manner. All that is required is a customer CAD file to realize lead times of 24 hours for custom laser machining, which allows for fast, multiple design iterations during product development. The company claims the potential to cut time to market up to 80%. The firm’s specialty is the precision machining of a variety of materials such as polymers, metals, and glass for the medical device industry. Typical applications include microhole drilling, channels, laser marking, part excision, and cutting for stents, catheters, ophthalmic devices, and glucose sensors. Typical feature sizes range between 1 and 300 µm.
Potomac Photonics, Lanham, MD
Prototype Products Are Available in 10 Days
Liquid silicone rubber (LSR) custom injection-molded parts and assemblies provide elasticity in a wide temperature range, making this process a good choice for OEM medical and patient diagnostic system designers. Clear and custom LSR parts and molded assemblies are available in small and large quantities with fast turnaround through a company’s ProtoFast service. ProtoFast provides prototype products in 10 days, building a single-cavity mold and producing up to 12 sample parts for delivery usually within 10 working days.
Overmold bonding of LSR material to metal and plastic medical components is also offered. Handles, grips, sleeves, caps, and similar components can be ergonomically designed in harmonizing colors and bonded to other metal and plastic parts.
Complete mold design and manufacturing services are available, as well as complete in-house cryogenic deflashing capabilities, component assembly, and packaging.
Rubber Industries Inc., Shakopee, MN
Full-Service Prototype Shop Handles a Variety of Products
Prototype processes and equipment are typically used for small quantities of parts or low-volume applications, which are typical of some unique medical devices where the demand does not warrant costly production. A company offers full services to assist designers and engineers in the creation of a wide range of medical devices, instruments, and implants.
Prototype Solutions Group Inc., Menomonie, WI
Prototyping Capabilities Offer Cost Savings
A company’s converting capabilities include both laser cutting and steel-rule dies for rapid prototyping. This enables clients to develop and test their products before scaling up to production. Laser-cut prototypes can typically be turned around in 1 to 3 days; steel-rule die prototypes take 1 to 2 weeks. Prototypes also enable customers to test alternative materials with the same design. While laser prototyping requires no dies, a steel-rule die is relatively inexpensive when compared with an injection mold or a blanking or rotary die; die preparation time is also less with a steel-rule die. The company can achieve tolerances better than or equal to 0.005 in., depending on the material and product design.
G&L Precision Die Cutting, Beverly Hills, CA
Copyright ©2007 Medical Product Manufacturing News
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