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When surgeons, agency partners and visitors tour Arthrex Inc., they can now experience our prototype machining processes and a new IMAX®-inspired cinema directly on-site at Arthrex’s state-of-the-art, 4,750-square-foot Rapid Prototyping Facility.

Manufacturing Engineering Supervisor Phil Grzybowski said, “The Prototype team has always supported product development by processing prototypes for our product managers, engineers and surgeons, so this latest departmental move to our new, first-class prototyping location on-site near our Medical Education facilities at Inc. has provided a better means to showcase our prototyping processes to surgeons, agency partners and other visitors.”

When guests enter the space with its operating room-quality lighting and its crisp, white epoxy floor, they’ll see the latest electrical discharge machining (EDM) technology and CNC mills, Swiss lathe and coordinate measuring machines (CMM) available for creating prototypes for all product development purposes. Any prototype, from drivers, handles, screws, blades and multi-part instrument components to single sample parts like bone plates and bone screws, can be made here. In addition, the Suture Prototype team is assembling and braiding sample sutures in the same space.

The move allowed for upgrades in 3D printing technology with the addition of a new micro XL 3D printer. Having the latest 3D printers has greatly reduced the time for printing plastic prototype parts. In some cases, what used to take 10 hours can now be done in an hour. To date, the Rapid Prototyping team has already completed 290 total prototype development project requests (33 machined and 257 on the 3D printers). That’s 1,119 total prototype parts developed in less than a month!

“Anything we can do to reduce the time to make a prototype and get it into the product engineers', product managers' and surgeons’ hands faster, that’s our goal,” said Phil.

Vice President of Engineering Ricardo Albertorio said, “The advantage of having on-site prototyping capabilities means faster time to market by shortening the design process timeline. Working on-site with the prototype group allows product development teams and engineers to receive exactly what they envisioned, reducing design iterations and cost, and ultimately achieving finalized design plans sooner than prototyping externally.”

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The idea for Arthrex’s Rapid Prototyping Facility had been a dream of President and Founder Reinhold Schmieding ever since manufacturing operations moved to AMI East from the AMI North building. Last spring, he challenged Manager of Construction & Space Planning Trent Lewis and team to build out the space just in time for last month’s Orthopedic Technology and Innovation Forum, our premier Medical Education event.

Trent said, “We started brainstorming what parts of prototyping would be exciting for our guests to experience. Part of what surgeons and health care professionals really like about Arthrex is the attention to detail. They like the hands-on personal experience of getting to see prototype parts being machined right in front of their eyes. Reinhold was really passionate about making this more of a personal experience. You can go up to the machinists and talk to them about what they’re prototyping.” 

Surgeons like John J.  Christoforetti, MD, (Pittsburgh, PA) are already sharing positive feedback about the facility. He said, “First-hand observation of the state-of-the-art prototyping facility is essential for surgeons to take a craftsman’s approach to their art. Transparency in cinematic and direct observation experiences leave no doubt that Arthrex products will be up to the task in even the most challenging cases.”

Pinnacle, Inc. Agency RepresentativeJoe Schoenherr (Clinton Township, MI) saw the space for the first time while attending Technology Specialist Training last week. He said, “I think the prototype room is a perfect reflection of the cutting-edge innovation that Arthrex is known for and proves that no stone is left unturned in the investment Arthrex makes to ensure the best products are released to help surgeons treat their patients better.” 

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In addition to the Rapid Prototyping Facility, a new 24-seat cinema has also been unveiled to agency and surgeon visitors. The cinema provides a virtual tour of our manufacturing facilities and future expansion plans, loops through various educational videos featuring patient stories and how products are made, and provides additional meeting space. By March, the cinema will be completely outfitted with custom, tiered theater seating, automated LED lighting and a standing row to accommodate 15 additional guests.

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“This prototyping area that Reinhold has allowed us to put together, combined with the new cinema next door, is like none other I’ve ever experienced in my 23 years in manufacturing engineering,” said Phil. “It’s a testament to our first-class quality. We’re excited to interact and be part of the surgeon, agency and visitor experience at Arthrex.”