Fast, Flexible CAM Makes Medical Parts Prototype More Responsive

Orchid Design (Shelton, CT) is a contract engineering, prototyping and product development firm serving the medical device market. When they became part of the multi-divisional Orchid Orthopedics Solutions LLC a little over 3 years ago, one of the first orders of business was to install manufacturing systems that mirror the equipment used in five out of nine of the Corporation’s other divisions.

When Orchid Design, a contract engineering, prototyping and product development firm serving the medical device market, became part of the multi-divisional Orchid Orthopedics Solutions LLC a little over 3 years ago, one of the first orders of business was to install manufacturing systems (Swiss turning 5 axis mill and 4-axis wire EDM) that mirror the equipment used in five out of nine of the Corporation’s other divisions.As a result, when Orchid Design transfers a job from prototyping or short run manufacturing to one of the corporation’s production shops, a completely validated and compatible manufacturing goes along with it. Production manufacturing can begin immediately with little or no process tweaking needed.

For Orchid Design, that’s the end of an intense race that typically begins with someone, be it a doctor, a manager from a small start-up company or a designer from a major medical device manufacturer, bringing them an idea. This event triggers a whole series of steps than may include concept development, product engineering, prototyping, design modifications based on cadaver lab tests, and small run contract manufacturing.

Ron Calahan, Prototype Shop Manager for Orchid Design, said, “We don’t do the standard 12 -14 week lead time. Most of our parts are delivered in 2-3 weeks. However, it is not unusual for a customer to give us a design in the morning and expect us to have parts for him at the end of the day. Our CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) system allows us to do that.

Orchid Design uses Mastercam X to rapidly transform medical designs generated in SOLIDWORKS or Pro Engineer into precise CNC tool paths for its CNC manufacturing equipment. However, that is only half of the story. Once the tool paths have been created, the company also uses CAD capabilities of Mastercam to design work-holding fixtures that allow the equipment to remove the maximum amount of material with the fewest possible set-ups.

“It works out great,” said Callahan. “We run the toolpath around the model with the fixture in place to make sure we don’t hit the fixture and that fixture will clear all of our axes.” That is just one of dozens of little tricks Callahan has learned to get parts up and running efficiently on the company’s CNC equipment the first time with backtracking.

Recently, a part that took a full 8-hour day to manufacture on the 5-axis mill was programmed in less than half that time. Orchid Design’s customer moved quickly through field trials, engineering revisions and into the marketplace. In the meantime, Orchid Design has employed its portfolio CAM compression programming techniques over and over again to speed a steady flow of projects along similar paths.

Leave a Comment

*