Medical device manufacturing is a critical industry that produces a wide range of products, including diagnostic equipment, prosthetics, surgical instruments, and implantable devices. These devices play a significant role in improving patient outcomes and the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.
Today, medical device automation is allowing more manufacturers to better navigate market variability and customer demand by facilitating a high level of complexity and customization.
Manufacturing medical tubing assemblies
One area of medical device assembly that has become increasingly important is medical tubing assemblies. Medical tubing assemblies are used in various medical devices, including catheters, respiratory therapy devices, and intravenous (IV) sets..
Medical tubing assemblies are designed to deliver fluids or gases to the patient’s body or to extract bodily fluids. They must be manufactured with the highest level of precision and quality to ensure patient safety. These assemblies are typically manufactured via injection moulding.
Injection moulding is widely used in the medical device manufacturing process, as it produces durable parts in high volume and with exceptional accuracy. Injection-moulded plastic parts are produced by heating plastic pellets to a liquid, then forcing them into a mould that represents the part shape. Upon cooling, they are ready for the next step in the manufacturing process.
Introducing automation, such as robotic automation systems or assembly automation, into the manufacturing process of medical tubing assemblies increases yields, quality, accuracy and regulatory compliance, allowing medical tubing manufacturers to expedite time to market and stand out in an increasingly competitive market. See robotic injection moulding machines tending in action.
The medical device manufacturing process
Medical device manufacturing involves several different processes, including design, prototyping, manufacturing, and testing. Each of these processes is critical to the final product’s quality and performance.
After design and prototyping, medical devices move to the manufacturing stage, where specialized equipment and materials are employed to create the product’s components and assemble them into the final device.
As new technologies and processes are developed for the manufacturing industry — such as ultrasonic welding, 3D printing, assembly cells, rotary transfer machines (RTM) or dial tables, etc — medical device automation challenges of the past are disappearing, and the types of medical devices that can be automatically or semi-automatically assembled are expanding.
How does medical device automation work?
Manufacturing automation is generally incorporated into a manufacturer’s current systems and workflows by an automated systems integrator, who will combine different automation hardware and software together into one large system.
In medical device automation, automated systems integrators work with the medical device manufacturer on any product design changes necessary to make the product suitable for automation.
Systems integrators will also work with the manufacturer to develop a sequence of operations based on their specific requirements and needs, which is then scrutinized for failure modes to ensure the manufacturing process is executed with the highest level of precision and quality. Depending on the automated system integrator’s in-house capabilities, it may be possible to design, build, and test the assembly system on-site prior to delivery to the manufacturer.
Choosing a systems integrator for medical device automation
For a successful transition to automated or semi-automated manufacturing processes, manufacturers need to choose an experienced medical device automation specialist as their systems integrator. The right one will help you identify or develop the ideal automated system for your specific products and applications, taking into account your current operations and business needs.
Innovative Automation provides medical device automation solutions that are flexible, agile and state-of-the-art, and developed over years of collaboration with leading medical device manufacturers.
Ready to improve efficiency, visibility, compliance and cycle times in your medical device assembly process? Contact Innovative Automation today.