For the last year, ProMedica Innovations has been quietly and impressively creating samples of inventions using two 3D printers housed in their incubator. The printers allow for case managers like Daniel Cassavar to do rapid prototyping in-house—saving both time and money for a department aiming to set ProMedica and Toledo up as a hub for medical technological innovation.
“Sometimes our inventors have been working on their inventions for 10 or more years with multiple prototypes along the way,” explains Cassavar. “With our 3D printers, we can make changes to their designs fairly quickly and without incurring any outside costs. Ultimately, these printers help case managers streamline our process.”
The way a 3D printer functions is fascinating in its own right. “The printer builds the model from the bottom up,” explains Cassavar. “Before any actual printing can take place, though, a virtual design must be created. We’ve been trained to use special computer software to create virtual models. Once the virtual model is complete, we fill the machine with some resin and click ‘go’ and the computer does the rest.”
Job time varies by size and complexity of the project, but Cassavar says printing inventions can range anywhere from 2-30 hours. The printers are also able to create multiple part structures, which gives case managers the ability to scale each piece for a more realistic end result. Having this flexibility allows them to create prototypes with moveable pieces.
So what kind of inventions are we talking about here? Currently, ProMedica Innovations is in the process of printing a bionic hand.
“It’s over 15 pieces that were printed individually,” says Cassavar. “We are about 90% done and it has taken about 70 hours for the printer to complete thus far. Once the hand is complete it could actually be used as a prosthesis. Although this job is not for any project specifically it is allowing us to really understand the capabilities of the printer which we will continue to use more and more as our operations continue to grow.”
Check out additional inventions, often called disclosures, printed by ProMedica Innovations’ 3D printers.
Learn how ProMedica Innovations strives to improve patient care and well being by supporting employees and the community with resources that help accelerate their healthcare ideas and inventions.