Med Device Conference to Showcase Advancements

EYE ON INNOVATION

Innovation drives successful companies, and med device and med tech firms are no exceptions. At Proto Labs, we’re proud to be a supplier for a number of these innovative companies and help them swiftly move medical and scientific advancements to the marketplace.

Proto Labs staffers Jenna Nyman, left, and Peter Douglass, right, met with industry professionals at last month’s Autodesk University conference in Las Vegas. We’ll be at BIOMEDevice next week in San Jose.

This med tech innovation will be on display next week (Dec. 7 and 8) at BIOMEDevice at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California. We’ll be there, too, in booth #707. We invite you to swing by our booth and say hello.

The conference will bring together nearly 3,000 industry professionals and more than 300 med tech suppliers. Keynotes, workshops, and other sessions will explore a stunning variety of topics: cybernetic technology, biocompatibility testing, bio-absorbable polymers, Industrial Internet of Things, mobile health, FDA regulations, wireless medical devices, intellectual property regarding med device development, and more.

Proto Labs is providing custom-machined aluminum-joint housings for this powered exoskeleton.

We look forward to participating in this event, given that product developers at med tech companies turn to our prototyping and quick-turn production services to reduce design risk, accelerate development, and launch new products in less time.

A couple of recent examples of our med-related work include projects with Wicab, Inc., a Wisconsin company that’s developing and launching wearable technology for the blind; and the University of Houston, which is developing a powered exoskeleton (see prototype, pictured) that may help paraplegics walk again.

See you in San Jose!

3D-Printed Parts Help Shape Future of Health Care

Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is an industrial 3D printing process that creates intricate, high-quality, fully dense metal parts. Materials that are regularly seen in medical and health care devices — like stainless steel 17-4PH and 316L as well as titanium Ti 6-4 — are available through DMLS.

Small medical components built with DMLS.

This additive manufacturing process has a unique advantage over many other 3D printing processes since it produces functional, end-use metal parts. And it has advantages over traditional machining processes since surgical device development often involves very small, highly detailed components that may be impossible to manufacture by traditional means.

This includes, but not limited to, combining multiple extremely small and detailed parts into one part, which reduces the excess bulk required for assembly. A single complex part will often produce better results than an assembly of simpler components that need to work together.

Imagine the end of an arm gripper for a robotic device that stiches up a patient. These components may be smaller than 0.250 inches but are still required to possess the strength and precision required to tie knots for sutures.

Material selection and manufacturability aside, the health care industry continually strives to improve the patient experience. Keeping each procedure as minimally invasive as possible is a key element with this approach. Using DMLS technology lets surgeons minimize incisions, which, in turn, accelerates patient recovery. This not only improves the patient experience, it reduces the cost to hospitals and insurance companies.

And one of the most important attributes of DMLS? Metal parts can be prototyped within days so you can develop devices much faster and get to submissions, trials and production much quicker.

DMLS is enabling the next generation of medical devices. Don’t miss out.

LEARN MORE ABOUT DESIGNING FOR DMLS.

Prototyping Engineered for an Aging Population

The growth of our country’s aging population is perhaps the most powerful force shaping today’s economy and the outlook for medical device companies in particular. For instance, the bulk of baby boomers now are 70 or older, while the U.S. Census Bureau projects the 65-and-over U.S. population to double to nearly 84 million by 2050.

The ways that rapid manufacturing companies such as Proto Labs can help med tech companies serve this aging population is the focus of a column by Rob Bodor, Proto Labs’ VP and GM of the Americas, in Med Device Online. Bodor’s column is the first in a four-part series, “Building Better Prototypes,” for the med tech website.

Bodor’s current column covers factors that drive rapid manufacturing’s viability in the med tech space, and explores the various processes and materials that med-device companies should consider.

You can read the entire column here.

EYE ON INNOVATION: Vertebrae Implants More Proof of 3D Printing’s Place in Med Tech

3D printing and other rapid manufacturing methods continue to transform the med tech industry, as illustrated recently by an Australian neurosurgeon who, in late 2015, removed cancerous vertebrae in a patient and implanted, in their place, printed vertebrae.

The 3D-printed part that would replace the patient’s cancer-ridden vertebrae. Photo: Dailymail.co.uk and ABC News.

Dr. Ralph Mobbs, a neurosurgeon at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, called the procedure a “world first.” The surgery was performed on a patient with chordoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in the bone of the skull and spine. As Wired UK reports, the 60-year-old patient was affected in the two vertebrae responsible for turning the head — meaning that, if the 15-hour surgery had failed, he would have been left paralyzed.

Because of the position and function of these vertebrae, however, they’re extremely hard to replace — they must be an exact fit. Mobbs decided to 3D print the replacements instead, and worked with Anatomics, an Australian medical device manufacturer, to design and build the implants, which were made from titanium. The company also printed exact anatomical models of the patient’s head for Mobbs to practice on before the surgery. Continue reading