The story of medicine is the story of innovation. We’ve come a long way, from biles and humors to germ theory to modern inoculants, antibacterials, and diagnostic and corrective devices. Our knowledge constantly increases. New discoveries, new plastics for syringes, new composites for prosthetics—sometimes these are best built with new tools.
At the same time, strict medical regulations demand that all manufacturing tools and processes transparently adhere to impeccable standards. Any new medical devices, or the tools used to manufacture them, must verifiably meet or exceed these expectations. Torque values for each fastener must be specified, met, and documented. As such, developing a new device or a new manufacturing tool requires expert engineering and legal knowledge, along with specialized equipment and facilities.
While medical manufacturing firms are continuously researching and creating, most only bring to the market a few products which require new tools to be developed each year. Sometimes, new tools may only be required every few years. Certainly, these tools are essential to the continual creation of cutting-edge lifesaving devices and other medical technology, yet their periodicity is insufficient to justify investing in tool creation facilities and more legal experts. So, if your medical manufacturing firm is encountering this situation, you might consider contracting with torque engineering consultants.
Why Medical Manufacturers Seek Torque Engineering Consultants
It isn’t easy to find a soft-grip strap-headed torque wrench calibrated to deliver inch-ounces of radial force without damaging the end cap on a flexible synthetic syringe or catheter. Often, medical manufacturers require extremely specific tools, many of which have yet to be created. If the tools you need—rated to all applicable legal standards—aren’t available on the market, then you’ll need to create them.
Specialty tool design and manufacturing requires specialty equipment, a versatile supply chain, and creative engineers fed from a well of institutional knowledge. Unless you’re already doing it, the upfront costs will likely prohibit you from starting. Consulting a dedicated engineering firm, with experience and equipment, will be a more effective solution if you want to produce occasional or periodic orders of specialty tools.
Many factors must be considered when designing or adapting a tool for a new purpose. Size, shape, material(s), and mechanism must contribute a balance of effective operation, repeatability and verifiability, durability, and production cost. Professional toolmakers with significant experience will know how to meet the unique needs of a new device while minimizing sacrifices in terms of accuracy, durability, and cost.
How to Find the Right Torque Engineering Consultant
Whether you’re looking for a chicken dinner, a cardiologist, or an engineering consultant, you want to find the right one. Identifying a few qualities will help you narrow down your options. For a chicken dinner, you’re looking for good and tasty. For an engineering consultant, consider the following factors:
- Company History: How long have they been designing tools?
- Employee Biographies: How long have their designers been with the company? What are their qualifications, and where have they developed their expertise?
- Company Certifications: Do they meet current Food and Drug Administration standards for manufacturing best practices?
- Customer Service: Are they responsive and timely in their communications? Do they go above and beyond to ensure they know exactly what your product needs?
- Production Facilities: Are they adequately equipped to produce your tool? Will they subcontract actual production to a third party?
- Service Department: Will they be able to service, calibrate, or repair your tools once they are in use? What will turnaround times be like, and what are the costs?
- Projected Cost: How does their quote compare to others in the field? How do they explain any discrepancies?
Asking these questions of the tool engineering firms you are considering will give you a basis for company comparison. Companies with long histories, dedicated employees, adequate certification, attentive customer service, capable production, and robust service departments are most likely to serve your needs. While pricing should be reasonable, the lowest price is not always the best, if it comes with diminished service, so be sure to consider the whole picture.
Hopefully, you plan on being in the medical manufacturing business for a while. If so, at some point down the line, you’re likely to find yourself in a similar situation, needing a specialty tool for a new product design. As such, when you’re choosing engineering consultants in the first place, consider the longevity of your relationship. Does this company seem like one you’d like to work with on an ongoing basis? Do they seem reliable? Or will have you go look for a new firm the next time you need a new tool?
A quality engineering consultant will help you through each step of the tool production process. They’ll learn about your needs, propose solutions, design your tool, and produce to order. Compared to crafting a new tool on your own, the process should be simple, seamless, and speedy.
Developing a quality tool is an important step towards delivering a successful medical product at a reasonable cost. Finding the right tool engineering consultant can mean the difference between a feasible new device and a truly profitable one. We live in an age of medical marvels, curing ailments and injuries with technology our ancestors would have named magic. Your cutting-edge medical devices, if you can find someone to help you build them, will continue this progress, furthering the cumulative advancement of humanity.