When a young company is trying to both maximize profits and deliver for customers, it's next to impossible to tackle alone. Verena Solutions, a contract design and manufacturing services house, found itself up against significant cost and resource hurdles when mapping out a manufacturing strategy for one of its clients in the dental and medical space. Instead of falling back on a homegrown solution, Verena found the answer in mHUB, a Chicago innovation center. mHUB opened doors to 3D printing technology and new traceability software to pave the way for Verena to achieve a cost-efficient production run and satisfy the needs of its customer.
Specializing in the dental and medical space, Verena's first project was SimpleCAP, a redesigned vision for an advanced dental needle system, engineered for simplicity and ergonomic safety. The project also created a wealth of experience in design and manufacturing, inspiring the firm to expand its contract services. A dentist with distribution rights to a portable X-ray system presented Verena with its next challenge. The mobile unit created a cost-effective way for dental shops to outfit their practices with X-ray capabilities without having to buy individual units for each exam room. However, the current design featured a handle grip that required two hands for operation, making it too cumbersome for practical use in dental exams. “It torqued the wrist so it wasn't usable, and without a handle it was hard to hold," noted Michael Infanger, president of Verena.
After an in-depth analysis, the Verena team came up with a three-piece plastic system that was designed for injection molding processes. Yet there was a problem with the plan: the client was currently committed to limited production—around 50 to 100 units a month—so a traditional injection molding approach was cost prohibitive. While the individual parts would not be overly expensive once the tooling was in place, the equipment investment would be upwards of $30,000.
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