Back in 2012, there were a lot of inflated expectations regarding the role that metal 3D printing would soon play in medical device manufacturing. Matt Sand is a product of that hype cycle because it was around that time that he, as an entrepreneur, started getting excited about the possibilities of 3D printing. Today, Sand is a co-founder and president of 3DEO.
3DEO, Inc., a metal 3D printed part provider based in Los Angeles, has announced it is increasing its production capability over twofold for the first quarter of 2019. The expansion for 3DEO comes as a response to greater customer demand, with the company experiencing significant growth in 2018, its second full year of operation.
By extending the boundaries of the on-demand production concept, additive manufacturing is changing supply chains in many industries.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of 3D printing over conventional techniques is flexibility. Because unit quantity, complexity, and labor inputs account for a relatively small percentage of final part cost, 3D printing facilities—especially in production—play by a different set of rules. Thanks to its flexibility, additive manufacturing can be reactive to business cases in a way that traditional methods just can’t. The adaptive, on-demand production of parts has the potential to reshape the way many manufacturers do business.
A close look at the variables that determine final part cost reveals that additive manufacturing can be an efficient solution for many medtech applications—but only if approached correctly.
3D printing has left behind its days as an obscure, fledgling technology of dubious real-world value. In nearly all corners of the modern manufacturing environment, additive manufacturing (AM) is now recognized as a powerful manufacturing technology, particularly when it comes to complex designs and streamlining the supply chain. Still, the perception lingers that 3D printing is impractical for most companies, at least from a cost perspective.
3DEO’s President, Matt Sand, will be speaking at the upcoming MD&M West conference; a must-attend event for any medtech professional. The conference is in Anaheim, CA on February 5-7, and is the largest three-day medtech conference in North America.
As our industry continues to expand, and with optimistic forecasts coming from many additive manufacturing experts, competition for talent is also intensifying. Here we report several recent moves in the 3D printing industry.
Hybrid additive/subtractive systems for printing and finishing metal parts have been around for years now. With these systems, a part is completely printed and then is brought to necessary tolerances (i.e., edges, details, surface finish) through machining. It’s always been “first build it, then cut and polish it.”
California-based 3DEO manufacturers 3D-printed metal parts using its own proprietary printers. With a heavy focus on reducing the per-part cost of metal 3D printing, the company claims its patent-pending Intelligent Layering technology is able to fabricate parts that meet quality MPIF Standard 35 and reduce the final cost of printing a part by as much as 80 percent. The company primarily works with stainless steel powder but is currently developing technology to print with other metals as well including Inconel, nickel alloy, cobalt chrome, titanium, soft magnetic alloys, Tungsten heavy alloy, and bronze, copper, and brass.
Suppliers take note.
Parts consumers are not the only ones benefiting from 3D printing. Metal parts supplier 3DEO makes precision-engineered metal components on demand with its proprietary 3D metal printers featuring patented Intelligent Layering technology. The company specializes in manufacturing low/medium volumes, including complex part designs, and is selectively accepting new high-volume orders.
Even though additive manufacturing and 3D printing (AM/3DP) are still in the early adoption phase by most medical device manufacturers (MDMs), these technologies continue to evolve at a rapid pace. Today, most AM/3DP applications in the medical industry are for prototype development, anatomical models, and “one-off” custom components. 3D-printed surgical instrumentation and cutting guides for procedures such as knee, spinal, and dental implants are on the rise. On the manufacturing side, AM/3DP is used to make components for prototype mold tools, conformal cooling inserts for production tools, and jigs and fixtures for making or inspecting production parts.