Innovative medical devices from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) get a lot of press. But many of those devices wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for innovative contract manufacturers and suppliers.
Working with materials as pliable as as polyester and as strong as stainless steel, these companies are always innovating to create new or improved components that their customers want — or don’t yet know they need.
Here are some of the latest innovations from medtech industry suppliers, selected by the editors at Medical Design & Outsourcing and designed to assist physicians in performing procedures and to help patients heal.
French-American anatomical modeling company Biomodex and 3-D printer manufacturer Stratasys have teamed up to produce “anatomical twins” that allow physicians to rehearse procedures on enhanced 3D models that mimic the structure and texture of an individual patient’s anatomy and surrounding tissue.
Designed to replace the traditional training and rehearsal methods of practicing on cadavers or silicone tubing, these replicas are built based on each patient’s unique medical scans using Biomodex’s algorithm and specialized modeling software, Stratasys J750 digital anatomy printers and advanced materials. Biomodex’s anatomical models incorporate the company’s software and imaging capabilities, because physicians perform most of the applicable procedures while looking at a screen.
Current applications include anatomical twins of neurovascular aneurysms and left atrial appendages for left atrial appendage closure systems for the heart. The neurovascular models measure about 5 in. by 3 in., and the cardiac models are about the size of a grapefruit. Biomodex is also working on anatomical twins for endovascular aneurysms as well as for orthopedic and surgical uses.
“These models allow physicians to rehearse the procedure on a precise replica of a patient’s anatomy before they perform it on the actual patient,” said Biomodex CEO Ziad Rouag. “It’s a bit like using a flight simulator. You don’t get to fly a 747 as a pilot just sitting in the cockpit and taking off with it.”
Biomechanical accuracy is the whole premise behind providing this solution to the market, according to Scott Drikakis, healthcare segment leader at Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Stratasys. The J750 printer launched in 2016, and the digital anatomy interface debuted in the fourth quarter of 2019, he added.
The challenges to 3-D printing lifelike anatomical models include having the right materials to replicate vascular, structural heart or orthopedic conditions, and the proper software, Drikakis said.
“They all have different biomechanical properties,” he explained. “The software takes the materials and digitally blends them to replicate the anatomy that they’re ultimately trying to 3D print. The biomechanical properties of the solution that Biomodex is offering allows them to do procedures on synthetic digital twins in real clinical environments before they are actually in with the patient.”
Five-year-old Biomodex has two Stratasys J750 printers in its Paris facility and one in the Quincy, Mass., operation it opened in 2019. Each printer can produce dozens of anatomical model cartridges per day, which the company sells to major medtech manufacturers including Boston Scientific and Stryker to validate their new product lines, conduct clinical studies and train physicians, Rouag said. Biomodex hasn’t moved beyond B-to-B sales yet, but is planning on reaching out to teaching hospital fellowship programs, he added.
As sales take off, Biomodex is looking at buying more Stratasys printers.
“We have a very good relationship with Stratasys,” Rouag said. “We want to continue collaborating with them. We want to see their new software and new systems.”