Prototyping Winding Bodies for MRI Scanners with the x400 3D printer
The Popp Group frequently designs prototypes for medical equipment and is increasingly using a 3D printer for this purpose. This includes, for example the development of components of a patient table for use in MRI scanners. The specific project of the Forchheim-based Popp Group involved the development of a winding body for a rotating device which later had to be fitted directly on the patient table.
The designed part had to accommodate the fixing and assembly components as well as the cover. Whilst the end product was injection molded, the entire prototyping was carried out with an x400 3D printer from German RepRap. “Only when we are certain that no more modifications are required do we create the expensive injection mold,” explains Rene Schneider, the person in charge of the project. Up to that time, we do everything with 3D printing. “Any faults or changes required by the customer are easy to rectify and implement.” Whilst we previously had to wait several days for a new prototype, such as for CNC milled parts, the 3D printed prototype is often already available in a matter of hours. The printing of this winding body took around 10 to 12 hours. Thanks to the large build area of approx. 40 x 40 cm Popp is always able to print three parts at the same time.
Compared to conventional prototyping, there are no disadvantages. Prototypes are required to have the same properties as the end product, both mechanically and functionally as well as with regard to their material characteristics. “The PLA frequently used in 3D printing is ideal here for medical technology since it is non-imaging and is not therefore shown in an MRI scan,” Rene Schneider explains.
“3D printing has become firmly established in product development at the Popp Group. “Our x400 3D printer runs at full capacity,” Rene Schneider sums up.
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