Flexible design and fast-paced manufacturing may sound like a pipe dream for high-quality customised medical wire, but utilising a small team that is experienced and passionate about engineering make this a reality for Custom Wire Technologies.

Medical device manufacturers know exactly what they need, whether they know exactly how to get there. Custom Wire Technologies (CWT) works closely with customers to design and develop medical wire components, offering a number of coiling, grinding and wire forming services. But what does this process actually entail? Medical Device Network spoke with Jim Boldig, director of sales and engineering at CWT about the journey from design to final product.

What kind of customers do you provide custom products for?

JB: We have a variety of clients. We work with large medical OEMs as a contract manufacturer, and we also have a vast array of customers who are startup companies looking to break into the industry. If the product fits within our capability, we’re willing to put our best foot forward and help.

We also work with universities and research centres. Specifically, veterinary clinics and universities that have limited budgets that are trying do a procedure that some of the large medical OEMs are doing, but in a new way.

What are the main issues or challenges that your customers tend to be facing when it comes to precision?

JB: One of the biggest things that the industry is seeing is the reduction in size of devices being developed. I think everyone is running into this challenge with size as the industry is trending towards making devices minimally invasive to help reduce recovery times. As these devices get smaller, they get more complex and difficult to assemble. We recently invested in a new microscope that goes up to 1000x to help our engineering team assemble devices and components.

What is involved in the life cycle of an order from the first call to the product being shipped out the door?

JB: It depends on the complexity of the project. We have a guide wire project that we’ve been working on for three years; it first started in November of 2018 and we have not yet shipped a production order yet, so it’s all been research and development. On the flip side, we also have our expediting program called QwikCoil, where customers can receive a product in a week or less.

Regardless of how long the project actually takes, it typically starts with myself looking at the specification that the customer has sent and developing the proposal. Once receipt of a purchase order is received, it comes back to my team and we look at the specifications to determine the best manufacturing technique for the part. I offer suggestions to our setup personnel on how to set up the machine and what to watch for when they’re manufacturing it. Once it’s in production, there’s a quality inspection process, and final product goes to our packaging and shipping department.

We have redundant manufacturing processes in place which allow us to make similar parts, but there is a drawing and specification for every part that we produce. There is no catalogue or inventory of parts that we have waiting for customers to buy. Everything is custom.

To what extent does Custom Wire Technologies get involved in customer projects by offering advice on processing or material choice?

JB: There are customers who come to us with a with an idea, and they’re asking for advice on how to design their product to be more economical. Our ISO certification limits us in that we do not consult on design of a product, but we will consult and advise based on manufacturing ability from our previous experience or sourcing.

If a customer is looking to make something out of a stainless steel wire, but in our experience we have found that this type of part is better suited for nitinol, we would make a suggestion to change to this material, or change the shape or dimension, which would allow us to make it better, more efficiently, and possibly more economically.

What assembly services does Custom Wire Technologies offer?

JB: We have a full suite of assembly services. We have the capability to perform laser welding and plasma welding, we can mechanically bond components using a crimping technique, and we have a history of using medical grade adhesives. If we don’t have the capability to do certain operations for assembly, we’re always looking for ways to expand our capability. A lot of these operations are done by hand with our production and engineering team; we’re not using robots to do the assembly. It’s all individuals with manual dexterity.

We also have a brand new 2,000 sq ft ISO class-seven clean room that meets the cleanliness standard required by most customers in the industry.

How does Custom Wire Technologies stand out from the competition?

JB: We are small company, and we have the ability to shift on the fly. We can pivot very quickly to help solve a customer’s problem or if they need to get out of a pinch. I don’t think that ability exists with larger corporations that we compete with because they have a strict production schedule and may not be as flexible we are.

There’s no project too small, but every project is important to the customer, and we like to treat each project as if it were our own. Ultimately, their success is hinged on that project succeeding.

Custom Wire has strategic alliances with our raw material suppliers. These relationships are important since this is the foundation of our business. Also, our veteran sales team has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to high performance alloys, including new alloy development.

To find out more, download the whitepaper below.