LABOMED brings high-end microscopes and diagonstic medical devices designed with the help of 3D printing
Helping scientists shed new light on the microscopic world around us is at the centre of what LABOMED does. Based in India, LABOMED’s research and development team creates a wide range of high-end professionals Stereo Microscope, Slit Lamp, Surgical Microscope and Colposcopes for biomedical, ophthalmology and gynaecology. Since its establishment in 2006, LABOMED’s high-quality products have made it among top 10 brand in medical diagnostic devices globally.
Focussed on creating flawless products, founder Neeraj Jain and the LABOMED team looked to 3D printing to help improve design quality, quicken the product development cycle and keep up with growing demand.
LABOMED initially relied on China-based service bureaus for 3D printed prototypes to verify concepts and functionality. However, outsourcing was time-consuming and difficult due to communication with vendors. Also, working with strict validation schedules did not allow enough flexibility during the design review process.
“It was a Catch-22 for the team because it seemed that we had to forgo innovation to make time for quality. There was no room for any rough designs or ideation when we outsourced our prototyping because we had to meet tight production and launch schedules,” said Jain.
Outsourcing 3D printed prototypes was not only time-consuming, but it amounted to substantial costs with less than desirable results. Ordering one prototype could take as long as one month and cost Rs 25,000 ($ 383). Plus, prototypes created by vendors using powder-based 3D printing were breakable and in-accurate. In-house 3D printing allowed for validation earlier in the design, helping avoid the costly need for changes at the end of the design process.
To save time and money, LABOMED acquired their own 3D printer from Stratasys. With 3D printing in-house, the R&D team conceptualises ideas and creates mock-ups as soon as their CAD files are ready. Engineers no longer need to wait one month to hold printed models in their hands. Prototypes are ready within two to three hours, and cost around Rs 12,000 ($180), giving designers the freedom to test and iterate innovative designs.
Bringing success into focus
One of the most-printed components is the body covers for the LABOMED Surgical Zoom Microscope, which enhance the focusing mechanism of the binoculars on the instrument. To finalise the design of the cover, designers and engineers print prototypes to test the assemblies, living hinges and fit prior to mass manufacturing. The printed body cover prototypes are tested for cracks or leaks before painting, and patterns are added for look-and-feel
“It would have taken us months to come up with the final binocular body cover design through a service bureau, but using the uPrint 3D Printer has streamlined the prototyping process, a huge benefit for us,” said Jain.
With the drastic reduction in time and cost spent on prototyping, LABOMED’s designers and engineers now focus on researching and generating new designs without worrying about meeting tight deadlines.
“The uPrint has resolved our design problems and has been one of the key elements that transformed our operations process,” said Jain. “We can now observe finer details in printed parts, identify design errors earlier on and ensure best-in-class products for our customers, all achieved in half the time and cost. Even our sales and marketing staff is ready to take on challenges and showcase new products and concepts with the highly precise 3D models.”