Tangible produces 150,000 metal 3D Printer orthopedic implants annually
Tangible Solution 3D Printer in Ohio, USA, after 9 years of development, has achieved 150,000 orthopedic implants per year.
Co-founders Adam Clark and Chris Collins, started out in 2013, 3D Printer plastic parts in Collin’s garage, then went door-to-door to market their manufacturing capabilities to potential customers for nine years in the blink of an eye.
Clark said, “In the early days of our business, we met a lot of medical personnel, and by understanding their needs, we quickly discovered the market prospect of 3D printer. So after we obtained the start-up capital, we set up a company quickly, and then moved in the building.”
Today, Tangible is a significant player in the highly competitive and highly regulated orthopaedic implant industry, with a 25,000-square-foot facility that supplies the medical market with approximately 150,000 titanium alloy implants annually.
From 3 to 30 people
Initially, the company had just three employees, Clark, Collins and an assistant, and now has more than 30 employees. The two FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printers that Tangible started out with are long gone now. In their place are three Concept Laser M2 machines from GE Additive, with two more in development. There are also eight smaller Mlab Metal 3D Printers, with two more on order, as well as a Mitsubishi Wire EDM and several Hurcos, several of which are five-axis capable.
Tangible also has laser marking and other post-processing capabilities, including passivation and proprietary finishing processes. These devices operate almost all day. “Business really took off,” Clark said. “We are very lucky, not only because of our rapid growth, but also because we have put together a great team.”
The company is ISO 13485:2016 certified and FDA registered, and their website states that they are “the leading contract manufacturer of 3D Printer titanium orthopedic implants in the United States.” So, whether it’s manufacturing plates and screws for spinal fusion, or manufacturing tibial trays and acetabular cups, have professional 3D Printer implant experience.
Professional focus on orthopedic implants 3D Printer
Given the company’s experience and capabilities with metal 3D printers, some may ask why not move into other markets?
“There are very few people in the 3D Printer industry that can actually produce implants, so we’re in a specific segment, where the market isn’t big, but we have autonomous control.” Clark said. “Once we made up our minds to do it, we committed to pursuing that dream. Building a century-old business is our dream, and I will never give up.”
One of the reasons for the company’s success in the niche market is the “powder program.” Clark is frequently asked to specify “must use original material”. However, in some cases, they can routinely reuse the powder up to 40 times.
In fact, learning how to do this is not easy, and companies have invested heavily in simplifying the recycling process and ensuring that all powders, virgin or otherwise, meet quality standards.
The reason is, “When I told my clients that we would love to use the new powder for every job, but they would pay 10 times more, they quickly changed their minds.” says Clark.
In the future, Tangible may involve foot and ankle implants, followed by larger components such as hip joints. “Just as 3D printers are starting to gain a foothold, it will take a while for new industries to be willing to embrace new manufacturing methods.” Clark said. “I think we may have five years before these segments start to take off.”
Focusing on a single market has pros and cons, he noted. On the positive side, the company has now met the stringent regulatory requirements of the healthcare industry. It has established the necessary processes and obtained the necessary certifications. The downside, of course, is that it took six years and quite a lot of hard work to do this.