Keeping You Safe in the ‘Pool’ of Manufacturing

Posted On July 1, 2019 By Annie Cashman

I love to entertain. I love having as many people in my house as possible, usually family, friends, or a mix of both, and the louder the better. I’m not much of a “neat freak,” so it doesn’t matter to me if things occasionally get broken as long as everyone is safe and having a good time.

That said, that whole issue of safety came in to play recently when I tried taking my entertainment skills to another level. I volunteered to have the year-end kindergarten family pool party for my six-year old son’s class. And, by the way, he passed kindergarten with flying colors.

At first, all was fine. I knew most of the parents and siblings. However, I didn’t necessarily know all of their swimming abilities—a risk I took without really thinking it through. So, instead of enjoying the party, I spent the night white-knuckling it at the edge of the pool, making sure everyone was having a good time, of course, but also making sure everyone was safe.

So, what does all of this have to do with the world of medical manufacturing? It does connect. I’ll explain.

Injection molding manufacturing facility
Our in-house, on-demand manufacturing services combine an ecommerce front end with unmatched scale to deliver prototypes and production parts within days.

Let’s go from my pool party to the recent MD&M (Medical Design & Manufacturing) East trade show in New York, one of my favorite places to visit. I was talking to a potential customer who wanted to make the case that the distributed manufacturing model, a form of decentralized manufacturing in which, in some cases, manufacturing brokers are used, is the future of our medtech industry, versus Protolabs, which would be considered a contract manufacturer or service bureau, a manufacturer directly supplying parts to companies.

Well, there may indeed be some aspects of distributed manufacturing that make sense for companies, but, having worked on both sides of the equation—for medical device companies and a contract manufacturer—I’m an advocate of working directly with a manufacturer. In the case of Protolabs, our digital, smart manufacturing approach, which starts with an ecommerce front end and then moves through our more than one million square feet of manufacturing space, provides medical device and medtech companies with a dramatically reduced level of risk. Working with us directly, you know our expertise, you already know the ability of everyone in our “pool,” so you don’t have to white-knuckle it, wondering where and how your parts are being produced. You know that we have well-trained “lifeguards” in our pool, and behind them lies a digital thread that is tracking every step of the manufacturing process for your parts.

And, I do mean every step. Thanks to several recently added secondary operations and finishing options—in our injection-molding processes—you truly can come to us not just for prototyping, but on-demand production too, a start-to-finish, end-to-end set of services that provide you with complete parts. These finishing options and processes—such as pad printing, laser engraving, assembly, threaded inserts, and, my favorite, color matching—are embedded into our quality system that ensures all of our injection molding molds, parts, and finishing are controlled through Protolabs.

Ultimately, as mentioned, you don’t have to wonder where and how your parts are being produced because you are working directly with us. You won’t have to compromise the safety of your supply chain. Even if you end up with a manufacturing need that might land you in the deep end of the pool, we have the lifeguards at Protolabs who can go deep with in-depth solutions.

And what about all of those kids in my pool? Everything went swimmingly. A good time was had by all.  


Annie Cashman is the global segment manager for the medical industry at Protolabs. Cashman’s industry expertise provides insight for Protolabs and its range of medical customers developing products and devices. She understands the entire process of manufacturing a medical device from its infancy to end use, and is passionate about driving positive outcomes for customers. Cashman previously worked for Nordson Medical, and also has held sales positions at Covidien (now Medtronic) and St. Jude Medical.