EMDT_European Medical Device Technology

European Medical Device Technology, Summer 2015

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24 | Summer 2015 European Medical Device Technology emdt.co.uk manufacturing times in series production. Machining of difficult shapes and production of individual components that needed to be assembled afterwards weren't necessary anymore. Additionally, shapes were now possible that couldn't be realized other- wise." Most components manufactured through AM still need to be post- processed, as Stephanie Kochbeck, busi- ness development manager medical at the AM solutions provider EOS, points out. For example, parts have to be cleaned from metal powder residues or finished by means of milling. However, AM helps companies to reduce the number of manufacturing steps and tooling costs. As AM machines can manufacture a variety of products with little additional costs for production changeovers and customiza- tion, the technology makes the produc- tion of even small batches feasible. Additive Manufacturing lowers, there- fore, the barriers to start manufacturing at a given location, according to Deloitte's study '3D Opportunity in Medical Tech- nology'. As a result, it will make sense for many companies to produce components in-house that they currently outsource to contract manufacturers. Deloitte gives the example of the manufacturer of surgi- cal guides Protaico that has been able to move its production of dental surgical guides in-house using AM. According to Hilary Thomas, this could mean that a part of the manufacturing jobs will return from developing countries to more advanced economies. "Factory labor costs could decrease while new jobs are created in a different part of the value chain. More engineers, designers will be needed, not to mention 3D-printer techni- cians. It is plausible that could mean more jobs concentrated in countries with more highly-skilled workforces, including many in Europe," she explained. Lower-tier suppliers might suffer However, while the technology provides many opportunities for OEMs, some lower-tier suppliers might suffer. "That's because one manufacturing process can now, potentially, disintermediate a whole range of subcomponents that were once manufactured and assembled. That might represent great value for the OEM and the customer, but is less exciting for the pro- ducers of those level parts," said Glenn Snyder, principal at Deloitte Consulting. Another area where AM can help to save money are warehouses. In order to be able to react quickly to customer wishes, many companies store a large number of finished products or subcomponents with long lead times on their shelves. Spare parts of long discontinued product lines need to be stacked because of service commitments binding huge amounts of working capital unnecessarily. As AM permits to manufacture spare parts on demand, reduces the number of required components and allows for more in-house production, it could help to shrink the companies' warehouses. Currently, manu- facturers of orthopedic implants and hospitals need to stock implants in many different sizes. In the future, AM might enable the on-demand manufacturing and just-in-time delivery of the customized devices based on patient scans. As the technology matures, some medi- cal devices one day might be produced directly on-site. The U.S. military experi- ments with AM to produce surgical kits in the field. Using the technology, the military was able to demonstrate effective production of things like forceps, spread- ers, and scalpel handles. Consequently, this could mean that, someday, the army only ships undifferentiated plastic pow- der instead of finished products, and can print on demand when needed in the field. "In summary, AM clearly offers the opportunity to alter supply chains, to reduce inventory, increase performance and customization, and accelerate product delivery from development through deliv- ery," Cotteleer concludes. "The next five years are going to be exciting to watch." www.minivalve.com A c c u m u l a t e d v a l v e k n o w l e d g e . M i n i v a l v e I n t e r n a t i o n a l d e v e l o p s a n d m a n u f a c t u re s s t a n d a rd , s e l f - a c t u a t i n g v a l v e s a n d e l a s t o m e r i c v a l v e c o m p o n e n t s f o r l i q u i d s a n d g a s s e s . P a r t i c u l a r l y o n e - w a y v a l v e s , p r e s s u r e r e l i e f v a l v e s , d i s p e n s i n g v a l v e s a n d a c c e s s v a l v e s . Duckbillvalves.com Umbrellavalves.com Bellevillevalves.com Combinationvalves.com Cross-slitvalves.com Minivalveballs.com Heamostasisvalves.com Trocarvalves.com

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