University collaborating with medical device company


Students work with a 3D printer at the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing in Grand Rapids. Courtesy GVSU

A local university and medical device company are working together to investigate how using 3D printing technology can address cost and time barriers to bringing medical devices to market.

A $500,000 grant from the Grand Rapids SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority will fund a 2.5-year collaborative program between Grand Rapids-based medical device developer MediSurge and the applied Medical Device Institute, which is housed within the Grand Valley State University Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing.

The organizations will determine the potential impact of using Redwood City, California-based Carbon’s 3D printing technology to create medical device components at production volumes, meant to accelerate final device manufacturing and development.

Faculty and more than a dozen graduate and undergraduate students from the Padnos College will be joining the aMDI research team to carry out the study. MediSurge has committed to providing funds and engineering throughout the study.

Brent Nowak, aMDI executive director, said the technology “will soon be the new standard,” and the study will help create course content for GVSU’s curriculum.

“We are on the cusp of revolutionizing the medical device manufacturing industry, and that will not only grow and retain talent here in West Michigan, but will attract new talent from outside of the region,” Nowak said.

If the study shows the possibility of using this technology, MediSurge would be the first medical device manufacturing company in the Midwest to offer this type of service.

The partners said toxicity of the materials historically has made 3D printing of polymer-based medical device components impossible, but Carbon’s technology uses nine nontoxic families of materials.

The partners said the current costs and amount of time to develop polymer-based medical devices are growing rapidly with increased regulations, steel tooling and design validation requirements.

The Carbon 3D printer technology has been installed in aMDI’s incubator space, a lab for health care and medical device startups located in GVSU’s Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.

Five other universities on the east and west U.S. coasts use Carbon 3D printing technology.

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