Mechanical Product Design
First and foremost we are a mechanical product development company. Everything about our company revolves around mechanical design of disposable products and optimizing the design process. Symbient engineers are very technically driven and we routinely apply finite element analysis to our designs prior to fabrication to ensure that the theoretical design is optimized.
Symbient focuses and specializes on just medical disposable products because we recognize that it is impossible to be experts in every type of design yet most product development companies claim that they can handle any project. All of Symbient's employees are experienced in just this one area across a wide variety of disposable products. No one else can bring to bear more experience, tools and resources focused only on disposables in the way that Symbient can.
Our Industrial Design capabilities are intended to supplement our core mechanical design capabilities. Through industrial design we focus on the user experience with the product as we consider branding, style, ergonomics and human factors. In the current competitive market a product needs to be more than just functional and reliable, it must also be unique and intuitive. Symbient recognizes the importance of the industrial design aspects of your product and can guide you through the process to create a complete design that will not only exceed your customer's expectations for function and reliability but will also be attractive and easy to use.
Precision Prototype Machining/Fabrication
In order to provide superior product development services it is absolutely necessary that prototype fabrication be performed on site. There are a few key reasons why on site prototype fabrication is necessary. First, we have complete control over the quality and lead time for prototype fabrication. Second, communication between engineer and machinist is optimized when they are both in the same building in order to minimize errors that lead to delays. Third, there is invaluable learning that takes place when we fabricate and assemble prototypes ourselves. At Symbient, we have invested in new, high precision CNC equipment that allows us to machine prototypes as quickly as possible with a high degree of precision.
Stereolithography (SLA) is a technology that we've been watching for several years. We've been waiting for the technology to mature to the point where it is today. SLA substantially reduces the product development cycle. Also, the speed of SLA allows us to investigate more design options which improves the quality of the final product. In the past if we needed prototypes we would machine them from a block of plastic. Depending on the amount of detail this could take several days for just a few prototypes. In addition the cost is substantial. SLA has now reached the point where the technology has become a substitute for a large portion of prototype machining. Various SLA materials have the mechanical properties of ABS, polypropylene, nylon and polycarbonate plastics with accuracy of within 0.005". The material primarily used at Symbient is transparent which allows for viewing internal functions plus is a USP Class VI material, meaning that it is also implantable. Several parts may be built at a time and a run only takes hours, not days. A run can be started in the morning and by the afternoon the engineer has parts available to test. The added benefit is that SLA parts are only a fraction of the cost of machined parts.
The 3D Systems Viper at Symbient is the most accurate SLA machine available. The Viper SLA machine is a large investment which is why it is usually only found at large companies and service bureaus. Symbient has made this investment because we want to make this technology available to our customers and substantially improve the quality of the products we develop and reduce the lead time of our projects, getting our customers' products to market sooner.
Rapid Prototype Injection Mold Fabrication and Molding
Symbient specializes in medical disposables. For these products, the next step in development after SLA and machined prototypes in prototype molding. Symbient also strives to complete as much of the project internally as possible in order to control project delivery dates and quality, minimize errors and to learn from the process of mold fabrication and molding. We also strive to replicate the production quality parts as early as possible in order to minimize the potential for any issues during the transfer to manufacturing. This is why we have invested in a production quality Arburg injection molding machine. This is the exact 38 ton model that many production molders use for their molding. Besides replicating the manufacturing environment as much as possible as early as possible we are also using the Arburg molding machine to control the molding process as much as possible.
The Arburg injection molding machine is a closed loop system with settings that are saved electronically. Therefore if we mold parts, then perform a mold modification we know that the next set of parts we mold are due only to the mold modification rather than a change in the molding process.
The learning opportunity that in house prototype molding provides is invaluable. We learn crucial information that is applied to the production mold design, saving our customer time and substantial expense when transferring projected to manufacturing.
LIM Silicone Molding
LIM silicone is a unique molding process and its use is growing rapidly in medical product development. We have developed a system utilizing our Arburg molding machine, a custom benchtop injection unit and a custom mold base to offer our customers prototype LIM silicone molding. Prototype LIM silicone molding is a rare service which our customers have found to be very useful for their projects that require the benefits of silicone materials.
Product Testing and Test Method Development
Testing is a skill that often is overlooked but is crucial for a successful project. Our engineers have many years of experience in testing. First, we need to identify which test methods are appropriate for the product and how we will challenge the product in ways that will replicate user conditions. It requires a high degree of experience, skill and patience to uncover the clues that indicate root cause during failure analysis. Missing these clues tends to have increasingly greater consequence as the project moves closer to production.
Test method development is also an important skill to look for in a product development company. Our engineers are very experienced in determining the best means to evaluate key product performance metrics and how to implement those methods that may then be scaled up for use in manufacturing.
Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
Symbient's engineers collectively have many years of experience over a wide variety of projects that provides valuable input to the Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). We are experienced in leading FMEA meetings as well as providing this valuable documentation required for the design history file.
Symbient's engineers have transitioned a wide variety of products to the market. Several of our engineers have also worked as manufacturing engineers which provides invaluable experience when preparing and transferring products to manufacturing. We have extensive experience transferring products to our customers' production departments as well as third party contract manufacturers.
Our philosophy is to involve manufacturing engineers early in the development cycle. We then review the design and its progress every step of the way with manufacturing to ensure that there are no surprises when it comes time to transfer the product to production. In our experience this ensures a seamless transition with production started as soon as possible after completion of development.
Product Reliability Assessment
Symbient's engineers are experienced in taking testing to the next level as a means of evaluating product reliability. Reliability blends statistics and testing. First, the reliability assessment conditions must be correctly designed to replicate user conditions and must walk a fine line between being too easy or too hard. If the test conditions are too easy then a false reliability will be indicated. If test conditions are too difficult then the customer may be led to achieve meet conditions that aren't realistic to user conditions at substantial cost and delay to getting to market. It takes years of experience over many products in order to attain the level of skill that Symbient's engineers possess to properly evaluate product reliability.