Emtel Śliwa is a European manufacturer of electronic medical equipment. The line of medical equipment they design, and manufacture includes patient monitors and defibrillators, which are used in Poland and many other European countries.
The design and development of products has long been hindered by the efficiencies of external contractors, who Emtel would outsource to. This all changed with the introduction of 3D printing, which Emtel now use extensively in-house.
3D printing enables EMTEL to build prototype models of patient monitor cases quickly and affordably, like this one on the left in this picture:
In the past, Emtel commissioned them to be made by an external company. The cost to do so was high and the lead time undesirable. This led them to look for alternatives, which is when they discovered 3D printing and 3DGence.
“Additive manufacturing technology allows you to shorten the time needed by constructors and engineers to create and test products,” says Mateusz Sidorowicz of 3DGence. “Currently, 3D printing has ceased to be seen only as a tool used only for prototyping, evolving towards the printing of final products. Compared to traditional methods, it can positively affect the time and cost of production. This is due to the improvement of the quality, reliability and range of available materials in the cheapest FDM / FFF printing technology.”
3D printing has given Emtel increased design freedom – and not just for prototyping. The parts printed by the 3DGence printer are good enough for practical application too.
3D printing to reduce costs
On this, Wojciech Przybycień, one of Emtel’s designers, says: “We print using a 3DGence printer a number of various mechanical details that could, without deterioration in strength and quality, replace some of the traditional aluminium and plastic parts used in our products so far. The use of 3D printing technology allows us to more flexibly adapt to current production needs, reduce costs, as well as some kind of freedom when designing new devices.”
On reducing costs, Emtel has been able to reduce costs significantly. The cost to manufacture custom parts is in the hundreds of pounds, not thousands. The time they save on each part is also immense, with the team able to cut out weeks of manufacturing time.
Of course, the design and creation of prototypes is verified before any model gets used for product tests. Production is preceded by risk analysis and tests to assure quality. This is necessary to comply with strict medical regulations and ensure a quality end product.
“Production companies are sometimes confronted with problems related to the end of production of components or subassemblies supplied by external subcontractors,” says Wojciech, “In such cases, the most common solution is to look for another sub-supplier, but it is worse in the case of a unit or low-volume production. In our case, 3D printing turned out to be a solution. Owning a 3D printer and a good knowledge of its capabilities basically immediately suggested a solution to the problem, i.e. own design and production of casings for the defibrillator.”
The team have been so impressed by 3D printing – and as a by-product of that, have found it so useful for prototyping and practical application – that they are planning to extend their use of additive manufacturing in the future. This will be to develop more medical devices in-house, at three to five times less than the cost of development with an external contractor.
3D Printer: 3DGence F340.
This information and all embedded photos were first published on the 3DGence website. If you liked this case study, you can find more like it at our medical page. We recommend reading this one next, which covers the story of a man receiving a 3D printed rib implant.