Micro Factory – 3D Printing Mobile Production Unit Fulfills Hospital Needs
November 15, 2022 | Reading time: 2 min
We have been supporting Med In Town in the development of a duplicatable Micro Factory that allows 3d printed medical devices to be manufactured in close proximity to medical care centers. Thanks to the great success of this initiative, the company is now in a position to expand internationally and diversify its field of activity.
Micro Factory for medical devices
Med In Town is based in Saint-Étienne, France, specializing in 3D printing in medicine. the start-up was founded to meet a need for the supply of equipment to medical facilities on a just-in-time basis while at the same time complying with the applicable standards and certifications. The starting point is that hospitals and other healthcare facilities have a growing need for equipment that is pre-sterilized ready for immediate use in the operating theater. A transfer of responsibility takes place between the supplier and the facility, to ensure compliance with the supply standards of the equipment, which is often produced remotely, up until its entry into the theater and its use by the medical personnel.
To respond in particular to the issues of increasing needs during the Covid period, while maintaining standards, Med In Town looked closely at the criterion of proximity to the production site. After considering setting up directly in hospital centers, the company finally came up with a more mobile solution, namely a mobile additive manufacturing unit, fully contained within a shipping container that can be moved from one facility to the next according to requirements.
"When it comes to polymer additive manufacturing for medical devices, EOS represents a benchmark; our aim was to create real innovation, but we couldn’t afford to take a risk on the recipe, which is why we turned to EOS. Being an international project because of the associated concept of duplicating MicroFactory manufacturing islands, it was important for us to get onboard with a leading international player."
Jérôme Prêcheur, founder of Med In Town
The first completed MicroFactory started operation in early 2022 and manufactures surgical guides for osteotomy, tumor resection, and the insertion of orthopedic implants. The next step is to manufacture disposable splints to ensure needs-based care.
Just-in-time additive manufacturing where needed
By direct movement of the Micro Factory within hospital centers, Med In Town provides production that is quick, qualified and matched to needs. It also means that resources can be pooled by two or more different facilities. A first 3D printing MicroFactory was created at the end of 2021. Production capacities can be adapted dependent on requirements (swabs, surgical kit, etc.) always while adhering strictly to quality standards (ISO, European and FDA standards) and always in partnership with legal manufacturers.
Operation of the Micro Factory is based on technological building blocks, with the objective of being able to reproduce these production units at will. A modular aspect which allows the company to consider international development or even diversification of its technique or turning to applications in sectors other than the medical, still with support of the EOS technologies.
By proposing to other companies that they “construct” their own mobile additive manufacturing unit, Med In Town is opening up for different sectors of activity. Where industry is concerned, Med In Town is a direct representation of the micro-production technological revolution. The need for externalized factories and mass production is obviated, thus doing away with additional costs due to transport. With a mobile production unit, the sector can produce directly, as close as possible to where requirements arise, and especially in conditions that are a lot more sustainable and responsible for the environment; in this way additive manufacturing reduces production costs to those strictly necessary and operates de facto based on a model that minimizes the use of raw materials.
A mobile production unit contains two Formiga P 110, additive manufacturing machines, a model known for its versatility, precision and robustness, essential criteria in the Saint-Étienne start-up project. In this way, cloud-manufacturing is within arm’s reach from this small space, which makes it possible to move or duplicate dependent on the needs of the healthcare facilities.
The first MicroFactory manufactures disposable instruments made of PA 2200. Components made of this material are characterized by good chemical resistance and can be certified for food contact.
"The effort made by EOS in developing the technology and raw materials also allows us to envisage a bright future for other applications. In fact our first MicroFactory is dedicated to the PA2200 and single-use instruments, but thanks to the modular nature of the equipment offered by EOS, the concept can be refined into multiple versions which are equally capable of processing implantable devices and resorbable devices."
Jérôme Prêcheur, founder of Med In Town
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