Medical device manufacturing is a rapidly growing industry with a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. As the industry has increased in size, many different manufacturing methods have arisen. Ultimately, the manufacturing method one chooses can have a large impact on the quality of the device, its appearance, cost, and overall success. To get a feel for some of the most popular types of manufacturing methods for medical devices, continue reading.
3D printing is a manufacturing method that has rapidly grown in popularity. Since its creation in 1983, 3D printing has been used to create anything from small figurines to full-blown houses. Increasingly, 3D printing has also been used to create medical devices.
Currently, 3D printing is mainly used to create rapid prototypes of medical devices due to the quick production time of the process. As advancements in 3D printing continue to arise and quality control standards develop further, we will likely see this method play a larger role in the world of medical device manufacturing.
Reaction Injection Molding
Using the process of reaction injection molding (RIM) to create medical devices has numerous benefits. Essentially, reaction injection molding is the process of mixing highly reactive liquid plastics together and injecting them into a mold where they expand and harden to form a solid part.
This process is ideal for creating larger, more complex medical devices in smaller quantities. Due to the process’s low tooling cost, ability to create highly sophisticated and complex designs, and capability of creating highly durable parts, RIM has become an extremely popular manufacturing option in the medical device world.
Another one of the different types of manufacturing methods for medical devices is thermoforming. This relatively simple manufacturing process involves heating a sheet of thermoplastic material until it softens and can be stretched over molded plates before being cooled and trimmed.
This process is admired for the cost savings that it can provide and its ability to produce sturdy housings, covers, and enclosures. Most often, thermoforming is used to create custom medical devices where appearance and high-quality performance are prioritized over large production volumes.