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Check it Out: Manufacturing Imagined Anew

By Anthony J. Lockwood

Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:

AcisA wise and wonderful writer — oh, twas moi! — once opined that “a burly friend, a pair of pliers, and a shot of bourbon still work to pull out a bum tooth.” The point of the commentary was that the tried and true still works, but why clutch to old ways of doing things when new methodologies can make your processes better, less wrenching, and more successful? But the tough part to letting go of what you know is changing your mindset. Embracing the new takes imagination and gumption. Imagination and gumption is what today’s Check It Out is really all about, which is why it’s an important one for you to check out no matter if its specifics don’t fit your world.

The unadorned description of what lies at the other end of the link over there is a video and a PDF on rapid manufacturing and rapid prototyping in the medical device industry. That’s the media delivering the message. And it’s an eye-opening message for any company that designs and manufactures product. For that matter, it’s for anybody or any company facing the future while having both feet firmly planted in the past.

What we have here is an outfit called Acist (Advanced Contrast Imaging System Technology). It develops and makes contrast injection systems used by cardiologists and radiologists in more than 40 countries. Acist uses FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technology from Stratasys on Dimension 3D Printers for both prototypes and functional parts.

FDM is wrapped into and around the process at Acist. Leveraging the technology, Acist makes functional parts that would be impossible to craft with traditional manufacturing techniques. It has reduced the number of parts in some components yet expanded their complexity. Acist has slashed inventory, minimized supply chain hassles, and vastly expanded its responsiveness to customer feedback. Time and money has been saved and regained throughout the organization. Not bad for a day’s work.

But that’s not the only thing here, or at least so I infer. See, I get the impression that Acist feels it has only begun to realize what FDM can do and that the limits of what it can do are only those of their imagination.

“Mindset” is the word used by a manufacturing engineering manager at Acist to describe the benefits of making FDM technology a key process in product development, manufacture, and after sale service at the company. And that tells me there is constant questioning, experimentation, and knowledge growth going on here. All enabled by a technology that doesn’t make you do things the way they’ve always been done. Rather, it allows you to do things as you imagine they might be done.

Hit the link and give this Check It Out time to digest. Well worth it.

Thanks, Pal. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.
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