May 30, 2017 | By Julia

Additive manufacturing heavyweight Stratasys is continuing to expand its roster—this time to surgical eye equipment. Earlier today, the 3D printing company announced that its multi-material colour 3D printer, the Stratasys Objet500 Connex3, is now being used by NIDEK Technologies, an Italian producer of surgical eye equipment. The state-of-the-art 3D printing system is expected to accelerate clinical trial evaluations of NIDEK’s ophthalmological devices, or vision diagnostic systems.

So far, positive results are already visible: NIDEK’s Research and Development division has reported a 75% reduction in prototyping costs, in addition to cutting lead times in half compared with previous methods.

As NIDEK’s Managing Director Cesare Tanassi reports, the new Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 means that his team can now use advanced 3D printing materials to produce direct replicas of crucial final parts. Fit, form, and function of prototype devices can consequently be evaluated quickly and comprehensively, vastly accelerating the time-to-market.

“Our prototyping process has become much more accurate and streamlined since incorporating Stratasys 3D printing into our workflow,” says Tanassi in a statement. “Previously we were constrained by the prototyping restrictions associated with traditional methods. This proved costly in terms of lead-times and capital, particularly with molds and CNC machining. We found that we had limited flexibility over our prototypes and, should iterations be required, this resulted in escalating costs.”

In the past, NIDEK relied on metal fabrication when developing its micro-perimeter, a painstaking process that took around two month to complete.

Needless to say, the Objet500 Connex has proven to be an invaluable contribution to the NIDEK team. “3D printing overcomes these bottlenecks by permitting us to quickly validate designs before entering our prototypes into clinical trial validation," Tanassi says. "As you can imagine, fully verifying our products is crucial to ensuring that premium quality is maintained.” Final parts can now be accurately emulated, including threads, seals, rubber, and transparent components.

Tanassi says that a functional result is achievable in 24 hours, due to replacing previously seen metal parts with robust 3D printed components.

For Stratasys’ part, they couldn’t be happier. Stratasys Italian Sales Manager Giuseppe Cilia notes that a growing number of manufacturers are turning to 3D printing to rapidly and inexpensively deliver fully operational prototypes that maintain the precision and endurance of the final product. In the medical device industry more than anywhere, “the ability to rapidly certify products is crucial to improving the quality of care, and in this case, [saving] someone’s vision,” says Cilia.

Check out the new Stratasys system at the NIDEK facility in the video below.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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