After making a spectacular arrival onto the scene with their CLIP technology in 2015, Carbon is one of those super high-tech companies that has been relegated to the upper echelons of 3D printing and additive manufacturing. Their R&D efforts, technology, and products revolve around the harnessing of light for 3D printing—evidenced with innovations such as new software, materials, and involvement with manufacturers such as Adidas.
Now, Carbon is behind a new 3D printed medical device designed by another California-based company, LUNAR. The award-winning McKinsey Design firm created a manual intraosseous infusion device for developing areas of the world, using Carbon technology. With the benefits of their Digital Light Synthesis technology and 3D printing, the LUNAR team was able to shed conventional techniques and take advantage of new opportunities for innovation, greater speed, and quality.
While Carbon’s 3D printing was an excellent fit with the intraosseous infusion device, it is also suitable for many other products and medical devices required for use anywhere in the world. In this case, however, the two companies were able to work together in making a new one-time use device for the Indian medical market that costs substantially less.
The intraosseous infusion device is necessary for transferring fluids to patients who have experienced severe trauma. The fluids given are often life-saving, and the device offers an alternative to the traditional IV, when the patient’s veins have collapsed. Conventional intraosseous infusion devices cost around $300 to purchase, and then there is an additional $100 per use.
There was a recognized need to create such a device that was simpler to assemble and use, and easier to make. The materials used would have to be safe for contact with the skin, and able to stand up to sterilization. Along with that, a durable handle was necessary so that the medical professional using the device could get a good grip while inserting the needle into the patient.
Originally, the LUNAR team was only planning to use 3D printing to create a prototype. With Carbon technology, however, they realized that the process would be much more streamlined:
“We spend so much time designing for the prototyping process and then we have to do it again for the manufacturing process…With Carbon, it is possible to design, iterate, and manufacture on the same means of production,” said Lucas Menanix, LUNAR Engineer.
Menanix and the team realized one of the greatest benefits in both 3D design and 3D printing as they could refine the product over and over without continual and expensive tooling costs; not only that, they were able to create three different versions of the device within a month’s time! Previously, using conventional methods, the LUNAR team would have required four to six months to create several iterations.
They were also able to streamline the design itself, by eliminating some of the parts used in the original device. It can be 3D printed quickly with one material, and those responsible for assembling it can look forward to only several minutes of work. The challenge of adding a suitable handle was met too as the team added texture to its surface.
“By modifying the original design to optimize the handle for 3D Manufacturing, the handle was simplified, eliminating an interior feature and two set screws,” stated the Carbon team in their case study. “The next iteration of the design incorporated the cog mechanism directly into the handle, which removed the interior handle and set screws.
“This integrated mechanism would have been very difficult to produce using traditional manufacturing methods such as injection molding. The new design simplified assembly as well as reduced the number of components.”
For 3D printing, the LUNAR designers decided to use Rigid Polyurethane (RPU) 70 material as it was both biocompatible and strong. As they continued to work on the new device, they were also able to transfer 3D files back and forth with the LUNAR offices in India, meaning that the prototypes could be tested on cadavers by Stanford Biodesign.Carbon]