Medical Device Company Uses Carbon 3D Printing Technology to Reduce Product Turnaround by 70%
Companies from around the world in many industries have called on Carbon, and its innovative Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology, to help with the development of many products, from shoes and race cars to mobile device protection solutions and an intraosseous infusion device that can be used to transfer fluids to patients in developing areas of the world who have experienced severe trauma.
DLS technology is a perfect fit for the medical device world, and Carbon recently explained the details of another medical 3D printing partnership in a new case study.
California-based BIOLASE, Inc. is a medical device company and Stratasys reseller that supplies dental imaging equipment, such as CAD/CAM scanners, and laser systems. The company decided to work with southern California contract manufacturer and 3D printing service bureau Dinsmore Inc., a previous Carbon partner, in order to replace a very important part of a medical device that has not yet been launched.
BIOLASE typically uses traditional urethane casting to make low-volume urethane polymer parts for medical devices, including the one it’s working on with Dinsmore. This manufacturing technique differs from injection molding in that it doesn’t require hard tooling and uses silicone molds. But, while urethane casting is less expensive than injection molding, it’s not exactly cheap to make and iterate the parts. Additionally, the turnaround time for urethane cast parts, like the ones in the image below, can last over a month.The cost must be factored into the decision-making process about what manufacturing method to go with, as BIOLASE will be using thousands of the parts every year. Improving both the economics and time to market for the product are the two main factors why the two companies decided to go with Carbon’s technology to 3D print the part.
“While urethane casting worked in the past, the process still didn’t meet our requirements for cost and manufacturing turnaround time,” said Julio Cely, Mechanical Engineer, BIOLASE. “The speed of 3D Manufacturing with Carbon, along with a new material, gave us a high-quality part, at reasonable cost, that could be produced at scale.”
Product development teams have to consider multiple factors when manufacturing high volumes of parts using a traditional urethane casting process, such as incurring tooling costs and set-up costs that are associated with the tools, along with multiple master patterns. The tools will normally have only a 3-month shelf life, and limited run life of 25 to 30 cast parts per tool. So BIOLASE wanted to investigate if there was another manufacturing option that could be used to make its new medical device product at a lower cost and timeframe.
BIOLASE called on Dinsmore for help, and Dinsmore, well-versed in 3D printing for the medical field, rose to the challenge. Armed with the knowledge of what Carbon’s materials and M series 3D printers are capable of, Dinsmore made the decision to replace the previously urethane cast part with a 3D printed one.
Dinsmore chose Carbon’s versatile RPU (Rigid Polyurethane) material to make the part. The material, which is comparable to ABS and has an ultimate tensile strength of 45 MPa, allowed the 3D printed part to meet both fit and form requirements, as well as go above and beyond the performance requirements when measured in the part’s strength and rigidity.
While parts manufactured through urethane casting would normally take five to eight weeks to manufacture and receive approval from the BIOLASE product development and quality teams, by using Carbon’s 3D printers and materials, Dinsmore was able to 3D print a higher quality part, and get the necessary approval, in just two weeks’ time.
“Our work with the BIOLASE team and Carbon’s DLS technology allowed us to showcase our team’s expertise in design for additive manufacturing for the medical industry,” said Jay Dinsmore, CEO and Founder of Dinsmore, Inc. “We’re excited to continue to work with customers across industries and find new application opportunities for Carbon’s new additive manufacturing technology and materials.”
BIOLASE plans to make thousands of these parts each year for its soon-to-be-launched medical device. Thanks to switching from urethane casting to Carbon’s 3D printing technology, BIOLASE will likely save over $10,000 a year in overall production costs, as it will no longer require tooling and set-up costs and master patterns. In addition, the company has reduced its turnaround by about 70%, which will help in getting the device to market much more quickly.
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