Inovus Medical has installed a new production level SLS 3D printer from 3D Systems in its manufacturing facility in St Helens, Merseyside. The laser sintering 3D printer enables the company to produce plastic parts with a finish level that rivals that of injection molding, without the expensive upfront cost of tooling and mold production. In addition, the laser sintering process that does not require support structures, thus increasing printer bed utilization and production capacity.
“The addition of production level 3D printing to our manufacturing armamentarium is an exciting step forward as we continue to drive vertical integration within the company,” said Inovus CTO, Jordan Van Flute. “It’s particularly pleasing to know we are using additive manufacturing to actually manufacture commercially available products, something that we feel is a real paradigm shift for the 3D printing sector [… ]feelings that are clearly shared by our suppliers 3D Systems. It has been a steep learning curve bringing SLS printing and all the required post-processing activity in-house but we are now seeing the benefits that this approach has had in assisting us to drive our business forward.”
Two of Inovus’ existing products, the Bozzini Hysteroscopy simulator and the Sellick cricoid pressure trainer, rely heavily on 3D printing. The company also has three new products under development that will require printed parts. The addition of the high-end laser sintering system will enable Inovus to adequately scale up manufacturing capabilities as demand for products continues to grow.
The use of the SLS technology for manufacturing large scale commercially viable products is not something often seen with 3D printing, a technology that until today has been used mainly for rapid prototyping and small scale projects but has found it difficult to translate into large batch production. Inovus has taken a different approach, using SLS printing as a core part of their manufacturing processes. The approach naturally caught the attention of printer supplier 3D systems featured the company in one of their case studies show how to maximize efficiencies in the printing process.