Trelleborg's Rapid Development Center accelerates the time to market for new products and provides Healthcare & Medical customers with a team of dedicated experts to support their journey from prototyping to production.
Trelleborg has been working with Healthcare & Medical customers for more than 25 years, initially providing silicone molding for their medical devices. Today, Trelleborg can offer additional capabilities including silicone extrusion, thermo-plastic injection molding, silicone sheeting, micromolding, slitting, bonding and laser marking on devices such as diagnostic instruments, stents and pacemakers.
During 2021, Trelleborg went a step further in supporting its Healthcare & Medical customers by opening a Rapid Development Center (RDC) to help bring these products to market faster. Having a development center with a controlled manufacturing environment, full material traceability and the ability to hold tight tolerances, is crucial when considering the sensitive nature of health and medical products.
Additionally, healthcare and medical customers are increasingly consolidating their suppliers, looking more and more for a one-stop shop. "The RDC is Trelleborg's response to that," says Andrew Gaillard, Senior Global Commercial Director at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, who brings his experience from working at a top medical device manufacturer to the table. "Trelleborg has expanded its material offering as well as the number of solutions we provide, such as multicomponent molding, micromolding or component assemblies."
The RDC supports customers in three critical areas: lower costs, speed to market and access to experts.
Through the RDC, Trelleborg is able to help customers lower their manufacturing costs by getting involved in a project early on and incorporating design for manufacturability.
"Customers frequently request that we help take costs out of the manufacturing process," says Chris Tellers, Director, Rapid Development Center H&M, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions. "The challenge is that 80 to 90 percent of a component's manufacturing cost is designed into the product during the design phase of product development. Simple changes can have huge impacts on part cost, while having no impact on product performance."
For example, simply adding a radius can greatly reduce tooling lead times and costs, how a part fills and how easily it is removed from the tool. "This in turn allows us to have faster cycle times and lower costs," Tellers explains.
The RDC also helps customers accelerate time-to-market. "Sometimes our customer simply needs to 'fail fast' with multiple design ideas they need to try out as quickly as possible to meet a tight timeline. Our Rapid Development team and processes are specifically set up to do just that," says Tellers. "We can adapt to our customers' needs and requirements based on their project goals."
While the design work is underway, the Trelleborg team can simultaneously plan the manufacturing of the product. "This allows us to move extremely quickly," says
Tellers. "When we get started on the tooling, all the tough questions have already been answered and the team can jump right into manufacturing the tool. There is no need for
another group or company to get involved, having to start over and answer all those same questions."
And although speed to market is critical for all industries in order to increase their revenues, Gaillard says it is even more vital for this particular industry. "In Healthcare & Medical, launching a product early on means patients have potentially life-saving devices and therapies earlier," he says. "Another reason rapid development is critical in healthcare is the need to test functionality in a clinical setting. After testing and obtaining feedback, our customers then make tweaks and quickly get a product back into the clinical test environment."
Finally customers have access to Trelleborg's experts - and in many cases, access to external material experts as well, who help customers choose the right material for their
product and requirements. This too can have a positive impact on costs and speed to market.
Judging by the demand - six projects in the RDC's first two months of existence - customers are eager to be partners with Trelleborg.
Recently, a global medical customer approached the RDC for support on a seal prototype. "They reached out to us for our sealing expertise, design help and our ability to quickly turn around prototype samples in multiple configurations and materials. This included Liquid Silicone Rubbermolded and machined parts," Tellers explains.
The center reviewed a number of material options and made design iterations in just 10 business days. "We were able to help them come up with an effective design to properly fix their sealing issue for a fully functional, long-lasting seal prototype," says Tellers.
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This is an article has been reproduced from Trelleborg's T-Time magazine. To download the latest edition, go to: www.trelleborg.com/t-time