Research & Development

Research & Development

Medical device design and development


Published first in our sister title Med-Tech Innovation, Oli Gould, design team manager, Owen Mumford, examines the ‘snakes and ladders’ of medical device design and development. 

Snakes & Ladders

There lies the famous expression “you don’t know what you don’t know”, and never has a truer sentence been spoken. US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, was correct in stating there will always be things we know about and can prepare for, but equally there will also be times when we face the “unknown unknowns” – the things we don’t know about. It is these things, mixed with the “known unknowns”, which make the strategy applied to design development such a challenging topic.

In medical device manufacturing, the design process can present itself as a chaotic system unless it is managed well. Customer requirements can encapsulate a range of material and design requirements and whilst the design team may be well equipped to handle this, there can be vast differences between the idea on paper and its end result in physical form and there can be many unexpected challenges along the way.

The ‘Snakes and Ladders’ philosophy

For design engineers, medical device design and development can offer many similarities to the classic game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’.

The ‘Ladders’ on the board represent all the big wins that could be uncovered during the development stages. This could be the unique selling points, the “if we do this we can increase performance by X%!” statements and the “if we combine the function of these parts into one, we can save X% in cost!”

In comparison, the ‘Snakes’ on the board represent all the big failures that could befall the concept design. They are the major delays, the “how did we miss this?”, the “who would have thought that this would happen?”

A stage of development activity which seeks to assess or prove the design concept can be likened to a move in the board game. In a poorly planned development strategy, the team may pass over a Ladder, or a Snake, without even knowing it was there. The team may approach the Finish only to find the top of a Ladder that they hadn’t landed on before, or the head of a Snake which takes them back to the start of their project.

Image pulled from original article.

This article first appeared on Medical Plastics News and was written by Oli Gould. You can read the full article here.

About Medical Plastics News

Medical Plastics News is the voice of the medical plastics industry. The UK publication caters to manufacturers of plastics in medical and drug delivery devices, their components and diagnostics.

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