Medical manufacturers find balance in design

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: May 22, 2014 11:41 am ET
Updated: May 22, 2014 11:46 am ET

Image By: Janet Century Mike Maczuzak of SmartShape Design Corp. said medical device manufacturers must find a way to accommodate a variety of people.

Related to this story

Topics Medical

CLEVELAND — Ergonomic design of medical furniture like tables for surgery or CT scans involves the study of the human body, industrial designer Mike Maczuzak said at the Plastics in Medical Devices conference.

And one-size certainly does not fit all.

“Especially when designing medical devices, it’s really important that we keep trying to find ways to accommodate more people,” he said.

During the Cleveland conference, Maczuzak teamed in a design session with Dan Snyder, technical sales engineer at Plastikos Inc., an injection molder and mold-maker in Erie, Pa. Snyder told attendees how they should approach plastics parts manufacturers for prototype molds and for full-production tools.

Maczuzak is president of SmartShape Design Corp. in Cleveland.

He gave an example everyone in business understands: airplane seats in coach. He explained how airlines make their seat-design decision — a numbers game, to fit as many people on a flight, and make seats with basic comfort to the largest number of people. There’s a tradeoff, as any taller person knows after spending a flight with knees crushed against the seat in front.

Medical product designers also often use this compromising approach. They split the difference, he said, and make chairs, tables and other furniture that is tolerable but not comfortable. But people in hospitals have to be there — it’s not voluntary — and they deserve better, he said.

Maczuzak displayed slides of a TransMotion motorized chair on wheels, with built-in power that converts it into a wheelchair that can fit people with different-sized bodies, and then become a stretcher. A person could start in the hospital waiting room, go through testing and treatment, all in the same chair.

Another example is hand-held surgical devices. On one device, SmartShape made about 30 basic models, then narrowed it down and turned out full prototypes complete with levers and springs. Designers got feedback from surgeons. The goal: a device not too big for small hands and not too small for big hands.

Snyder said he asked Plastikos’ medical customers what issues they faced with suppliers. A common remark: original equipment manufacturers and mold makers must collaborate as early as possible.

“What it’s going down to is, when you’re taking that CAD model to something you’re going to make tens of millions of parts out of, you need effective communication,” he said.

Key issues are how to gate the mold, options for mold cooling, lead time and, most importantly, establish exactly how the customer will validate that tool. Once a mold goes into production, pulling it out to make changes is much more difficult, Snyder said. Often medical molds have complex slides and two-shot capability.

OEMs need to create a checklist covering the entire process, he said. And Snyder suggested visiting a mold supplier early, to meet the people who will design and build the mold.

Early communication also helps to avoid rushing the tool through. Snyder pointed out that many mold components, not just the cavity, have to be custom made — one reason molds seem to be so expensive. And it’s important for the mold-maker to build a mold for easy maintenance, allowing, for example, the replacement of a frozen insert in the future.

“Trying to retrofit a mold down the road to be easier to maintain, is always hard,” he said. “Following those design strategies will also save you money as well.”


Comments

Medical manufacturers find balance in design

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: May 22, 2014 11:41 am ET
Updated: May 22, 2014 11:46 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

US pharma packaging worth $22 billion by 2018

September 8, 2014 1:14 pm ET

Demand for pharmaceutical packaging products in the United States is expected to increase by 4.9 percent annually and the value of the market reach...    More

Image

Tecomet buys implant manufacturing specialist

September 4, 2014 12:16 pm ET

WILMINGTON, MASS. — Tecomet Inc., a Wilmington company that makes orthopedic implants, has purchased 3D Medical Manufacturing Inc., Riviera...    More

Image

JV aimed at pharmaceutical and medical device packaging

September 4, 2014 12:10 pm ET

Mocon Inc. and Life Packaging Technology LLC have formed a joint venture aimed at improving time-to-market for pharmaceutical and medical device...    More

Image

Acquisition gives Sunningdale an injection molding footprint in India

September 3, 2014 10:29 pm ET

SINGAPORE — Injection molder and toolmaker Sunningdale Tech Ltd. on Sept. 3 announced plans to buy First Engineering Ltd., a manufacturer of...    More

Market Reports

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events