Redistributed manufacturing for home-use medical devices

Newcastle University

2nd November 2015 – 29th April 2016

This study seeks to explore the possibility and the impact of manufacturing a home-use medical device using redistributed manufacturing (RDM) technology. Our team has developed a single-use urine flow meter and voiding diary (The PeePod) at RMPD and this is now licensed to one of the world’s leader companies in the field of urology diagnostics. The design and manufacturing model of this device follows a conventional route where devices are manufactured in large numbers, and different stages of the manufacturing process take place in different countries. The costs for worldwide shipping are significant, particularly the delivery of small volumes to a large number of community healthcare providers (e.g. GPs). Manufacture represents only about half of the final cost of the device. The investment in tooling for mass-market devices is also substantial, and beyond the means of many start-ups and SMEs that represent more than 80% of the UK medical device industry.

By redistributing the manufacturing of parts of a device like the home-use urine flow meter, there is the potential to decrease its final cost, reduce the time required for the device to be available to the patient, improve the patient experience, and offer a possibility of customisation. The research will look at how a redistributed system could be achieved by using low-cost 3D printing technologies, intended for home use by producer-consumers (‘prosumers’), and the project will evaluate the potential for use of these technologies in the home and locally (e.g. healthcare centres and pharmacies).

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