IRVINE, CALIF. — A new ultrasound device with pressure formed enclosure components received the medical award in the SPI Structural Plastics '97 competition.
Development work on the fast-track project began about two years ago and involved quickness at every turn to catch change in the health-care market.
``Customers have requested a lower-cost ultrasound device,'' David Towler, commodity manager for Hewlett Packard Co.'s medical products group, said in a telephone interview from his office in Andover, Mass.
Long-time HP supplier Arrem Plastics Inc. of Addison, Ill., produced 10 components on seven tools in a development race to bring the ImagePoint system to market. All parts have molded-in color and texture with most in ABS in glacier gray. For toughness, the base/footrest components are formed of acrylic and PVC in titanium gray.
In early January, Hewlett Packard introduced the multispecialty ultrasound system to hospitals and clinics in the worldwide market's low end, with pricing under $100,000.
Compatible computer-aided-design systems made the project possible.
``Once we pick Arrem, it's an open book'' on design changes, Towler said. ``We design what we think we need, and Arrem comes back with critiques, questioning tolerances or radius.''
Initial work was done on a Hewlett Packard ME30 three-dimensional CAD system, with Arrem using Pro-Engineer 3-D CAD.
Engineers would exchange three or more design concepts daily. Jointly, they overcame a challenge in creating the cart's top, originally conceived as two pieces, according to Ray Mehta, senior project engineer for Arrem. Undercutting nearly 20 percent of the surface of the cart top complicated the design.
Use of the 3-D CAD system led to the design of one seamless part, which measures 40 by 24 by 4 inches and transitions from a horizontal plane behind the monitor to a downward angle for the keyboard. Tooling of the cart top took nine weeks in the spring of 1996, down from as much as 12 weeks using conventional methods.
Side undercut sections on the tool need to withstand more than 6 tons of blowing pressure.
``Good drawings can save one or two weeks,'' David Schenekl, vice president of A&M Pattern Model & Mold Co. Inc. in Wheaton, Ill., said in a telephone interview.
In an interview at Structural Plastics '97, Jack Schrieffer, Arrem sales manager, showed off the design features while acknowledging the pressures to reach production. He cited the parabolic shape of the speaker, tabbed areas on the grill and a tongue-and-groove feature.
``It was tight trying to go from concept stage to final production,'' Schrieffer said.
Pressure-forming specialist Arrem employs 70, occupies an 86,000-square-foot facility and recorded 1996 sales of $7 million.