Successfully manufactured in DPI’s Acceleration Station™, the lattice structure proved impossible to produce with conventional 3D printing and traditional manufacturing methods
MINNEAPOLIS—Steve Scully, MD, PhD and founder of Thaddeus Medical Systems, Inc., was nearing the end of a fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., when he identified an opportunity to improve patient care with an active, smart cold-chain packaging solution. Branded the IQ-ler™, it allows for reliable transport of temperature-sensitive medical supplies and specimens, such as expensive biological therapies, vaccines, blood and tissue samples. The IQ-ler contains design-patented gyroid lattice structures. During prototyping, Thaddeus found that the complex lattice was impossible to manufacture with conventional 3D-printing or manufacturing methods. Diversified Plastics, Inc. (DPI) was the only supplier to successfully produce the lattice parts with its Acceleration Station™, powered by Carbon® printers and the Carbon Digital Light Synthesis™ (Carbon DLS™) process.
The damage and loss rate when shipping temperature-sensitive medical supplies and specimens as of 2015 was nearly 20 percent. This waste globally adds up to approximately $35 billion annually. In addition, medical-related, cold-shipment failure can result in increased lead-times, a tarnished reputation, and in the worst cases, loss of human life. In some instances, these fragile, critical shipments are packaged in cardboard with gel packs, blocks or dry ice. Other more sophisticated packaging options lack the necessary high level of durability and do not address the chain-of-custody or real-time tracking and regulatory documentation.
The IQ-ler has an ultradurable construction to withstand the rigors of shipping for many years. The gyroid lattice structures are part of its resilient construction. They minimize vibration and shock, while maximizing airflow in the payload, battery and sensitive electronic compartments. Future IQ-ler models may also incorporate additional lattice structure within the payload area.
“The gyroid lattice can potentially only be produced using 3D printing or additive manufacturing technology,” says Scully. “To find the right solution to manufacture these components, we tried parts made from several 3D printers, some very well-known brands. The prototypes from these 3D printers didn’t meet specifications and didn’t have a smooth surface finish. The material for the gyroid lattice needed to be compliant, flexible and resilient to provide exceptional vibration damping with smooth-surface finish characteristics. The only prototype parts that matched our specifications were manufactured using the Carbon DLS process, the core of DPI’s Acceleration Station.
“When Steve first came in, he had a different solution,” says Aliza Alverson, sales engineer at DPI. “Later, the Thaddeus engineering team came to us with its gyroid lattice structure. The files were intricate and large. So, they worked with our in-house engineering team to make the design manufacturable using DPI’s Acceleration Station. We printed samples with different lattice sizes and material options, including EPU 40 and SIL 30, both of which are used for prototypes as well as production parts. The prototypes made from SIL 30 met the desired performance requirements. One of the most exciting parts of our job as a contract manufacturer is to see the evolution of a part and the success of the product it goes into.”
The Acceleration Station’s engineering and production teams work closely with customers to save time and money by optimizing parts for digital manufacturing. Design for additive manufacturing can minimize the total number of components required or make previously unmanufacturable parts, such as lattices and complex geometries, possible. Central to DPI’s Acceleration Station, the Carbon DLS process offers customers production-quality end-use parts without the added time and cost of tooling. Carbon DLS is up to 100 times faster than traditional additive methods and can produce low- to mass-production quantities. Parts are produced from a wide selection of materials that can be customized for mechanical properties, surface finish and stability. Product customization and variable product marking are also possible. Acceleration Station protocols adhere precisely to customer specifications, performance and safety standards.
Thaddeus is working with Christian Brothers University for product testing, such as vibration and drop tests compared to competitors’ products. Initially available in two sizes, the market potential for the IQ-ler is substantial. And the company is actively beta testing the IQ-ler with various institutions. For more details about the IQ-ler and to learn about DPI’s Acceleration Station, visit divplast.com/iq-ler, call +1 763.424.2525 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thaddeus Medical Systems, Inc. (TMSI) protects temperature-sensitive medical materials (pharmaceuticals, medicines, controlled substances, vaccines, organs, specimens, etc.) via a smart, IoT-enabled, reusable, actively temperature-controlled packaging and SaaS tracking/monitoring system. TMSI offers the only all-in-one solution that provides security, real-time alerts, and chain-of-custody traceability for temperature sensitive products. TMSI is a Rochester, MN-based, Delaware C-corp. TMSI also provides documentation to assist in the compliance with regulatory requirements. www.thaddeusmed.com
Employee-owned Diversified Plastics, Inc. (DPI) is a custom plastic-injection molder and digital manufacturer of high-precision, close-tolerance parts and components for medical device, filtration, aerospace and a variety of other industrial markets. Founded in 1977, the company is a full-service contract manufacturer providing design for manufacturing assistance, additive manufacturing, mold construction and intricate molding, as well as cleanroom assembly. In 2018, DPI purchased Pacific Plastics Injection Molding in Vista, Calif. DPI is ISO 9001:2015 and 13485:2003 certified, FDA registered, ITAR certified and UL registered. www.divplast.com