Mass Customization within the Healthcare Sector

Mass Customization is a buzzed topic and for a good reason. Why should one choose a Mass Produced option product, when a product can be tailored for the individuals needs? There are multiple ways of achieving mass customization, but in this blog post we'll take a look at mass customization solutions within healthcare.

Mass customization of physical products can be achieved in numerous ways and most often mass customization refers to modularized manufacturing, meaning to create a product offering by allowing a customer to build up a suitable solution by choosing various modules. This is not rocket science, really and a typical example of this is a modular sofa or a customized bicycle.

This kind of mass customization suits well for satisfying certain individual needs, but healthcare solutions are highly individual and therefore a modular approach is less relevant.

Is there an alternative approach? Yes, there certainly is and 3D-printing or additive manufacturing offers a new kind of opportunity.

One great example is e-Nabtle. e-Nable is a open source community formed by a group of individuals using 3D printers for for the creation 3D-printed hands, arms and upper limb assistive devices. The community is made of engineers, hobbyist, students, teachers scientists, coders and coders who put their effort to help disabled individuals.

The assistive devices are created by talented group effort, but this example is not mass customization. Mass Customization with additive manufacturing requires the use of automated 3D customization solutions that enables the design of a healthcare product with the customers unique dimensions. Conventional customization requires the attention of a CAD-engineer manipulates the 3D-data into a 3D-model of a product with the customer dimensions. The conventional customization takes a lot time and effort and therefore the price of these solutions are rather high.

We at Versoteq have had the opportunity to partner with Peacocks Medical Group that is one of the largest medical equipment manufacturers in the United Kingdom. Peacocks innovated a 3D-printed foot orthoses solution Podfo that is better and more affordable than most other options in the market. We at Versoteq have created the 3D customization solution for Peacocks that allows the orthoses to be mass customized.

Our 3D-customization solution creates the production model that will be 3D-printed. The process starts with the clinician who performs a simple 3D-scan of the customers feet. The 3d model of the patients feet are then transferred to the Versoteq software, that automatically creates a 3D-model of the orthoses that is then 3D-printed. This decreases dramatically the time of the customization and the resources that were previously used for customization can now be allocated for more important tasks.

This is just one case of mass customization with the assistance of automated customization and many other solutions can be found. Multiple companies use similar solutions for prosthetics, implants, custom equipment. New 3D printing innovations and research within healthcare emerges daily and this is only the beginning. It is great to be a part of a the innovators that create meaningful solutions for healthcare.

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By Max Hurmerinta