Using Medical Prototyping for Life-Saving Precision

Medical device manufacturing is not for the faint of heart. These devices are small, have very tight tolerances and engineering requirements, and are required to meet strict industry certification standards. Because the profit margins are strong, competition is intense. Manufacturers are under pressure to get their products to market as quickly as possible, while keeping costs low and ensuring that they operate as intended.

In short, it’s a high-stakes game where error really could mean the difference between life and death. Time-to-market and accuracy are critical, which is why many manufacturers in this field are turning to rapid prototyping to support their product design and development processes.

By creating early and functioning samples of health technology products, manufacturers can:

  • Evaluate new product designs and materials
  • Identify areas for product improvement
  • Quickly adjust designs to address issues
  • Explore ideas and concepts
  • Get early feedback

There are a few different technologies manufacturers to execute their medical prototyping initiatives. The first is additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. It involves printing prototypes directly from CAD data, enabling fast revisions based on tests and feedback. It’s an effective, low-cost way for companies to evaluate new product concepts, identify flaws, print complex part geometries, and make design changes with ease. It also offers accurate form and fit testing, allowing manufacturers to evaluate medical parts at an early stage, before making a significant investment.

The second technology used in medical device prototyping is CT scanning. This approach provides detailed 3D scans of components and assemblies without dissecting the actual part. It can support the prototyping process in a number of ways, by allowing companies to detect any flaws, confirm the accuracy of the assembly process, and complete reverse engineeringtasks. It can also qualify a prototype for production by testing for temperature, vibration, mechanics, and the function of internal parts.

In short, rapid prototyping is advancing medical devices in incredible ways. By helping manufacturers to quickly test, evaluate, and iterate designs, they can continue innovating their products and ensuring that patients have access to the life-saving devices they need.


  • James Rawstron

    James Rawstron is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America, located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Rawstron has 20 years of marketing communications experience in the software, high tech, industrial, advanced manufacturing machinery and medical device markets. He has written numerous articles for B2B publications, including blogs for a variety of industries. Prior to joining Hexagon, Rawstron served as a web marketing professional at IBM and a Marketing Manager at Vector Software. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and European History from Union College of Schenectady, New York.

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