The advantages of using 3D printing industrially are apparent around the globe. In the medical field, doctors are exploring ways to create necessary items like dentures, 3D printed implants, surgical models, and countless innovative devices that are not only enhancing the quality of life for many patients today, but in some cases, saving their lives too.
Defibrillators, used for shocking the heart back to life in the presence of arrhythmias, are medical devices definitely placed in the ‘saving lives’ category, and now Poland’s Emtel relies on 3DGence 3D printers for the fabrication of both prototypes and final parts for these machines that are vital to so many patients. Their most recent work has been demonstrated in a case study regarding low-volume production of 3D printed patient monitor prototypes and parts for defibrillators. The benefits abound in using such technology for manufacturing of small batches, allowing companies like Emtel to move forward in a fiercely competitive medical device market.
Prototypes are a necessary step in the manufacturing process, and ease in creation of such models is what led 3D printing technology to fame initially. For Emtel, this is critical in manufacturing cardiac monitor cases today; for example, in comparison to sending out prototype or part creation requirements to third parties, they can instead create them in-house and save substantially, while also reducing turnaround time from thirty days to a mere five.
“We print using a 3DGence printer a number of various mechanical details that could, without deterioration in strength and quality, replace some of the traditional aluminum and plastic parts used in our products so far,” says Wojciech Przybycień from Emtel. “The use of 3D printing technology allows us to more flexibly adapt to current production needs, reduce costs, as well as some kind of freedom when designing new devices.”
In using 3D printed parts for prototypes and devices, the Emtel team states that they perform extensive risk analysis and evaluation, along with comprehensive testing. In the end, they say their savings on the bottom line, thanks to 3D printing, can be up to three to five times less than it would be in using conventional processes.
“Production companies are sometimes confronted with problems related to the end of production of components or subassemblies supplied by external subcontractors. In such cases, the most common solution is to look for another sub-supplier, but it is worse in the case of unit or low-volume production,” says Wojciech Przybycień from Emtel. “In our case 3D printing turned out to be a solution. Owning a 3D printer and a good knowledge of its capabilities basically immediately suggested a solution to the problem, i.e. own design and production of casings for the defibrillator.”
In their recent case study using the 3DGence ONE 3D printer, Emtel was able to create a 3D printed patient monitor model prototype at 1:1 scale. In this case, costs were reduced by a staggering 90 percent, with one 3D Printed part priced at 50 EUR. Savings in time was up to 25 days less than usual, with models being made in around five days. Precision was excellent in this case, and ‘final details’ of the prototypes required no corrections. Significant improvements via 3D printing included:
- Faster production of prototypes
- More precise verification of ‘project assumptions’
- Better ergonomy, installation, and validation of dimensions
“Additive manufacturing technology allows you to shorten the time needed by constructors and engineers to create and test products. Currently, 3D printing has ceased to be seen only as a tool used only for prototyping, evolving towards the printing of final products. Compared to traditional methods, it can positively affect the time and cost of production. This is due to the improvement of the quality, reliability and range of available materials in the cheapest FDM / FFF printing technology,” concluded Mateusz Sidorowicz from 3DGence company, regarding the recent case study with Emtel.
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