138 MPO • July/August 2015
Additive manufacturing and quicker turnaround times are the main trends
driving OEMs’ prototyping and production requests.
Mark Crawford • Contributing Writer
Contractmanufacturers are almost too good at their jobs—when
their customers raise the bar,
they deliver. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)
are getting to the point where
they expect their manufacturing partners to come up
with the technologies and
processes needed to transform their most challenging
designs into high-demand,
cutting-edge products, all at
reasonable price points.
As a result, it makes it harder to“keep up the good work” and
stay ahead of what their clients will be asking for next.
Prototyping and production are critical phases of product
development. OEMs want their devices to be smaller, stronger,
lighter and more functional. They want faster turnaround times
and faster market placement. They are eager to use additive
manufacturing to see prototypes more quickly, or even make
production-ready products. Even though they can be challenging to process, advanced materials with improved physical
characteristics are in high demand because they perform better.
Miniaturized devices and components require advanced technologies such as laser micromachining. To increase speed and
quality and to keep costs down, automation and robotics now
are in greater demand and doing more complex tasks.
Steve Hartzog, rapid prototyping/manufacturing engineering
Manufacturability, Quality and Turnaround
technician at Cadence Inc.,
a Staunton, Va.-based medi-
cal device contract manufac-
turer, indicates the two main
trends he has seen over the
last year is a desire for in-
creased speed and additive
first increasingly is hard to
achieve without the second.
“Speed to turn around
parts is at an ever-increasing
premium,” said Hartzog.“The
faster you can deliver a part,
typically the faster a compo-
nent or assembly can be assembled, tested, refined and prepared
for commercialization. What makes this all happen faster is addi-
tive manufacturing. For example, 3-D printing of metal compo-
nents is becoming a more attractive and readily available option
for many components.”
Perhaps the greatest benefit of additive manufacturing, and
the speed it brings to the production process, is lower operational
cost—“depending on the part or component, additive manufac-
turing can reduce costs by up to 50 percent compared to standard
production methods,” added Hartzog.
Many medical device manufacturers are eager for feasibility or
proof-of-concept prototypes to facilitate quick turnarounds prior to
investing in prototype development. Not only can they verify that
Engineer Bryan Bailey begins prototyping efforts for a customer at
Cadence in Staunton, Va. Photo courtesy of Cadence Inc.