Making Medical Device Testing Fixtures
Medical Device companies are drivers of economic activity in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area and Interrad Medical is a member of that community.
Interrad developed the SecurAcath®, a subcutaneous catheter securement device that utilizes a small anchor placed just beneath the skin in the subcutaneous tissue. The device is attached to the catheter at the insertion site – eliminating the need for adhesive devices or sutures. One of the important parts of Interrad’s design workflow is testing different versions of products before manufacture. Part of that process entails creating testing fixtures. These fixtures either hold or interact with the product in some way.
For example, an important feature of the SecurAcath is the amount of pressure needed to “snap” it together after it has been wrapped around a catheter. To test the uniformity of pressure, testing fixtures needed to be created to hold the SecurAcath in place on the test bed. Another fixture had to be designed to simulate a human’s finger closing the SecurAcath around the catheter.
Andy Forsberg, Interrad’s Director of Engineering, had been using 3D prototyping services to create his fixtures. He thought maybe he could use a 3D printer to do the same in-house.
Less Time, More ROI
“I started building one [a 3D printer] at home and determined that I would rather have one that was ready-made to get the quality of output that I wanted. During my search, I came across the Afinia 3D printer in MAKE Magazine’s “Ultimate Guide To 3D Printing”. It scored really high.”
“I got one for the office and found that I was able to spend my time designing instead of futzing with the equipment.”
Kim Jorgensen, R&D Engineer said, “When the Afinia 3D printer came in it was just like Christmas. We all huddled around the box, took it out and found that it was straight-forward to set up and use. We found that printing on glass gave us the best results.”
Brian Bosch, Engineering Intern remarked, “We work a lot on improving our test fixtures. When we were using only prototyping services we had to wait a few days in between design tests. Now, we can make small changes and test right away. Once we have the design that works best, we send the file out to have a machined version made for our large-scale testing equipment.”
Mike Augustine, R&D Engineer, observed, “Now we can make 3 to 4 iterations in a day, which has reduced our cycle time to 25% of what it was before we bought our Afinia 3D printer.”
Another important application is in the area of making models to better communicate new product ideas to Interrad executives. It’s easier for them to understand the return on investment potential of new ideas.