Plastics hold key to affordable healthcare in emerging markets


Multimillion-dollar CT scan and MRI equipment play a key role in the world-class healthcare typically enjoyed by citizens residing in developed economies, but when it comes to deploying the same technologies in emerging markets, every little bit of cost that can be saved could make such equipment more accessible to more people. To this end, plastics definitely have a key role to play.

This was highlighted in a presentation by Jayashree Satagopan, general manager of Global Sourcing South Asian at GE Healthcare (Bangalore, India), at the recent Precision Engineering Business Forum held alongside the MTA 2011 show in Singapore.

Initially, efforts at GE Healthcare focused on simplifying metal fabrication processes to reduce costs, for example using sheet fabrication instead of casting for an MRI unit gantry. Another example of cost reduction is the use of turret punching instead of laser cutting for generator covers. But Satagopan noted that plastic materials and technologies such as injection molding and thermoforming are where a lot of cost-cutting opportunities await. "Even at annual production volumes of 3000-4000 units, we can still consider injection and RIM as viable processes," says Satagopan....
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