6 Medtech Trends to Watch in 2017

THE SHORT LIST

From a predicted slow but steady revenue-growth outlook, and a rising Asian market for the medtech industry, to multi-functional devices and wearables, medical device manufacturers will be watching several trends this year.

Slow but Steady
The $390 billion-plus medical device market will experience growth in 2017, but slower growth than previously expected, reports Kalorama Information, which publishes health care-related market research. Its industry forecast predicts a 2.8 percent average growth over the next five years. “While the user base for medical devices is growing, cost-cutting mechanisms have impacted price increases.”

United States Still the Focus, with Asia Rising
Kalorama also reports that, though most revenues from medical devices will still be earned in the United States this year, China and the rest of Southeast Asia will see far greater growth than the overall market in 2017.

Companies Still Seek Innovation
A challenging market has only encouraged the industry to keep funding research, says Kalorama, which estimates that medical device companies spend an average of 7 percent of revenue on R&D, which is higher than most industries.

The Scout medical device can measure temperature, heart rate, ECG, and other variables. Photo courtesy: Scanadu.

More Multi-Functional Devices
More medtech manufacturers are making multi-functional devices that can be used for a range of applications, according to Qmed.com. Devices that are specialized are falling out of favor at hospitals because of the premium put on floor space. An example Qmed cited is the Scout device (pictured), from Silicon Valley-based Scanadu. The device can measure pulse oximetry, temperature, heart rate, ECG, and other variables.

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3D Printing Education Gets Boost from Concept Laser, Arizona State U, Others

EYE ON INNOVATION

Leaders from the 3D printing industry have lamented in the past that universities’ engineering curriculums need to offer more courses and programs in industrial 3D printing technologies, also known as additive manufacturing, in order to better prepare the next generation of engineers.

Those educational programs received a giant boost in January when Arizona State University (ASU) announced the opening of a new Academic Additive Manufacturing Center at ASU’s Polytechnic School in Mesa.

Arizona State University recently opened its new Academic Additive Manufacturing Center, made possible by a partnership with Concept Laser, Honeywell Aerospace, and Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies. Representatives of this partnership paused for a photo during the center’s opening activities.

The 15,000 sq.-ft. center, which holds more than $2 million of plastic, polymer and 3D metal printing equipment, was made possible by a partnership ASU formed with Concept Laser, Honeywell Aerospace, and Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies.

John Murray, president and CEO of U.S. Concept Laser, who has been one of those industry leaders worried about the lack of 3D printing curriculum at universities, was a part of the partnership announcement. “Changing the future of metal additive manufacturing begins with educated teachers and curious students,” he said. “The educational leadership that the ASU Polytechnic School provides to the Southwest region and the industry will certainly be impactful. Concept Laser is proud to be a partner in this initiative.” Continue reading

4 Trends Light Up Photonics, Optics Show

EYE ON INNOVATION
More than 23,000 engineers, industrial designers, scientists, senior executives, and entrepreneurs from around the globe gathered this week at San Francisco’s Moscone Center for Photonics West, which is the world’s largest optics and photonics conference.

The event, sponsored and coordinated by SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, was actually three conferences in one: BIOS, Bio-Optics and Biophotonics; LASE, Laser Sources and Lasers for Manufacturing; and OPTO, Optoelectronic Materials and Devices.

More than 23,000 attended Photonics West this week in San Francisco.

The event included nearly 5,000 presentations, workshops, panel discussions, and seminars over six days and featured more than 1,300 exhibitors, including Proto Labs.

Among a staggering range of subjects explored at the conference, four hot topics that were especially creating a buzz included advice for startup companies, the exploding virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) market, emerging automotive optic applications—especially for autonomous vehicles, and the continued promise of 3D printing. Continue reading

A New Spin on Folding Bikes

CASE STUDY

A Toronto-based startup bike maker recently turned to Proto Labs for machining parts for titanium prototypes for an innovative fold-up bike concept that will launch to a worldwide market later this year.

Folding-bike models haven’t really changed much over the years. Most have small wheels, are heavy and awkward to use, and, ironically, don’t actually fold up that small.

Nearly four years ago, Helix Bikes set out to create a folding bike that is lightweight, durable, rides and feels like a full-size bike, has larger wheels, is safe and easy to use, and folds into a truly small, portable size—a bike that can be stored under your desk, taken on the subway, stowed in the trunk of your car, or packed in a suitcase.

Proto Labs provided machined titanium parts for prototypes for Helix Bikes’ folding-bike models, which will launch to a worldwide market later this year.

A wildly successful 2015 Kickstarter campaign pledged more than $2.2 million to help Helix with additional funding, which “gave us the ability to take the design to the next level—we really pulled out all of the stops,” said Peter Boutakis, founder of Helix Bikes.

Helix eventually turned to Proto Labs for machined titanium parts for Helix’s prototypes, swiftly moving from submitted CAD models to bike prototypes within weeks.

The Helix bike folds for easy storage.

Boutakis gives Proto Labs high marks.

“Both [Proto Labs’] quoting and analysis were amazing. It’s incredible that something as complex as a one-off custom machined part can be quoted so quickly and at such a reasonable price…we went from CAD model to riding prototype in about three weeks…Without a resource like Proto Labs, we would be months behind with fewer iterations and the result would have been a less polished product.”
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DESIGN TIP: 9 Ways to Reduce Injection-Molded Part Costs

Multi-cavity and family molds are used for a higher volume of parts, which can save costs. Shown here is an example of a family mold, used to produce the med-device part pictured.

Product designers and engineers love to trim costs on manufactured parts. This month’s design tip offers a number of injection molding considerations to improve part design and stretch your manufacturing dollar.

This month’s tip discusses:

  • Eliminating undercuts
  • Getting rid of unnecessary features
  • Using a core cavity approach
  • Altering cosmetic finish
  • Designing self-mating parts
  • Modifying and reusing molds
  • Leveraging DFM analysis
  • Using a multi-cavity or family mold
  • Considering part size

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