US-based 3D printers and production systems manufacturer Stratasys has entered into partnership with design and product development firm Worrell to expand medical device development through the deployment of 3D printed injection moulding (3D IM).
Compared with traditional aluminium moulds, Stratasys claims it is producing injection moulded prototypes using final production materials in less time and at reduced cost.
The company said that medical device manufacturers have two main obstacles to get medical devices to market including tooling costs and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory processes.
In order to decrease iteration risks and tooling costs, Worrel will use Stratasys PolyJet-based 3D printers to create injection moulding tools and the same materials will be used in a finished medical device, creating higher-fidelity prototypes.
Stratasys manufacturing tools senior manager Nadav Sella said: "We have recognised a significant under-utilisation of the 3D printed injection moulding process in medical device development and we're working with Worrell to help fill this gap.
"In an industry where products have the potential to save lives, we want to use this collaboration to demonstrate how medical device manufacturers can bring their products to market significantly faster than ever before."
The two firms will attend international tradeshows and host a series of workshops, in a bid to promote the significant cost savings of 3D printed injection moulds for medical device manufacturers, as well as reductions in product development cycles.
Worrell CEO Kai Worrell said: "We were recently approached by medical device start-up, MedTG, to design and engineer a dual-flow needleless blood collection system that reduced the need for multiple injections, thereby increasing patient comfort and hospital efficiency.
"Utilising 3D printed injection moulds to prototype the device, we were able to reduce the costs associated with traditional tooling by approximately 70%, as well as cutting times by 95%.
"Using 3D printed injection moulds, we are able to create a prototype for a fraction of the cost and in a matter of days compared to the eight-week lead time associated with traditional tooling processes."
Image: Stratasys PolyJet-based 3D printed mould tools able to withstand the heat and pressures of injection moulding machines. Photo: courtesy of PR Newswire/Stratasys Ltd.