Over the last decade there have been significant leaps in medical device design innovation, from glucose monitoring devices to pacemaker leads, revolutionizing the way devices work and, most importantly, improving the lives of the patients that use them. One of the key shifts in their development stems from a change in the design of specialized components, with the industry heading to a point where original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will be able to buy parts “off the shelf”, making their production easier and cheaper.
However, there is still a way to go until these components are readily available as commodity products. To continually evolve this process, OEMs can benefit greatly from partnering with specialized manufacturers, working collaboratively to design and build components customized for purpose.
Innovative design solutions
Swedish firm Sandvik is a bespoke partner that works with customers throughout the design and engineering process, helping to problem solve to create custom medical wire solutions. Medical Device Technology spoke with Gene Kleinschmit, product manager for Sandvik, about the company’s innovative approach to medical device component design.
“Sandvik is a full partner in design manufacturing processes,” says Kleinschmit. “The focus for us is on building long-term partnerships to assist manufacturers with designing and building successful and innovative medical devices.
“What sets Sandvik apart is our involvement during the early stage of product development. Instead of the customer finding something that may be close to what they want, meet some of their design needs, and available as a standard off-the-shelf product, they can come to us at an early stage with their design and we can custom build something that fits to their requirements.”
Within the custom design process there are typically six or seven engineers, including the process engineers, who design the processes and machines, as well as continually experimenting with different types of metal coatings to meet the customer’s specific aims. “We have had customers come to us with issues with the coating not adhering to the wire during their subsequent processing,” Kleinschmit explains. “Our processing team was able to come up with some different curing methods for the material that would survive their processing without coming off the wire.”
Commodity product pitfalls
Innovative designs require innovative components and working with commodity products could have damaging effects on manufacturers who are forced to choose between the pros and cons of different components.
Time is of the essence, too. As a product matures over time, it will become more and more of a commodity item, allowing the customer additional options. Products that were once truly niche, such as pacemaker lead for example, were initially very specialized. Due to the evolution of their design, lots of suppliers now have capabilities of making them.
Customers who attempt to design new medical devices using existing commodity products often have to compromise their designs as they are forced to alter their plan to utilize what’s available on the shelf.
For Sandvik customers, the ability to work with a partner at the beginning of the design process, means access to machines that manufacture the specific part they need for their completed device. The result? A smoother manufacturing process and faster time to market and a design with no compromises and functions the way the designer planned. Says Kleinschmit: “We’ve had a lot of instances where a customer tells us that they wish they had come to us sooner.”
A custom future
Optimized medical devices are key to improving the quality of life for patients, which is ultimately the end goal of any Sandvik partnership. Sandvik’s willingness to work upfront, early in the process, knowing that the product may not get onto the market for years down the road emphasizes their commitment to their customer base and desire for specialist products. According to Kleinschmit: “We want to build partnerships and work with customers through the entire process, helping with their designs and getting the product launched.”
Welcome to meet Gene Kleinschmit and the team from Sandvik at Compamed in November and discuss design or other issues of yours. Booth 13C45.
Download the whitepaper below to learn more about the medical materials Sandvik develops.