Blending 3D printing and injection molding reduces tooling costs, speeds time to market


Design bureau Worrell (Minneapolis, MN) announced a partnership with 3D printing leader Stratasys (Eden Prairie, MN) in October 2014 to offer 3D printed injection molding (3DIM) services to medical device manufacturers. Their value proposition is compelling: It typically takes just one or two days to 3D print a mold and start producing parts. Nadav Sella, Director, Manufacturing Tools, at Stratasys and Worrell's Derek Mathers, Business Development Manager, discussed the concept with PlasticsToday, in advance of a session that they will be leading at the MD&M East conference and exhibition next month in New York City.

"The medical device industry is facing budget crunches and tight time constraints to determine if a product is going to take off in the marketplace," says Sella. A rigorous regulatory process compounds the complexity, he adds. Consequently, "finding ways to save on tooling costs is a big issue, and that's where the advantages of 3DIM become apparent."

Worrell's Mathers puts it in broader philosophical terms. "We are not going to evolve as a species just by making faster prototypes. The 3D printing industry has the opportunity to revolutionize manufacturing by expanding printable material options, reducing the cost of [appropriate] materials and, most importantly, by combining the best attributes of traditional manufacturing with new digital techniques," says Mathers. And that is how this partnership intends to move the needle on cost reduction and time to market for medtech manufacturers.

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