The aerospace industry has a reputation for requiring high-precision and high-performance devices, so it’s no wonder that medical device designs, which require similar degrees of performance, are starting to borrow from aerospace in certain aspects. Specifically, there’s an adoption of what’s known as Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T) that’s shifting how medical device designers and engineers create their finished products. Let’s take a look.
What Is Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing?
To put it in a nutshell, GD&T is a system for defining and communicating engineering tolerances using symbolic language and engineering diagrams. It’s done with the goal of relaying to manufacturing partners, inspectors, etc. the allowable variations within the assembly of products and implements standardization for how those variations are measured.
So, how is any of that important? Without getting too far into the weeds, GD&T allows for an exact language that can precisely communicate the functional requirements for design features—their location, their orientation, their size, etc. This process is simpler than having to describe it all using the linear dimensions of old, and creates a standard of communication that can keep multiple stakeholders on the same page throughout a production process.
How GD&T Relates To The Design Of Medical Products
With the ability to communicate design features more effectively (and at the same time, more concisely) the efficiency of the design and production process benefits. Gone are the long back and forths between designers and manufacturers about what goes where, how to do this or that, what the expectations are for the appearance of finished parts. It’s all there in an easy-to-communicate package, which trickles down to a host of other benefits.
Cost savings, for instance, will be improved when implementing GD&T, as the specificity of communication allows for designers to convey exactly what they mean, and manufacturers to determine the best way to achieve that using their available tools. Beyond that, though, there will be a greater consistency from one device to the next, meaning a higher standard of quality across the board for whatever you decide to produce.
Combined with modern (and evolving) manufacture techniques, like CNC machining, 3D printing, etc., companies in the business of producing medical devices can quickly and effectively go from ideation to production—all while saving significant amounts of money and maintaining a high standard for their products
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Other Ways In Which Medical Device Design And Aerospace Converge
It’s not just GD&T where medical device design is taking some cues from aerospace technology. Medical device designers are also taking note of what aerospace engineers are able to do in miniaturizing their technologies, and are starting to follow suit.
Wearable health monitors, for example, are getting more compact and more capable with each new iteration. They’re able to process massive amounts of vital data on their wearers, all while remaining unobtrusive in daily life. This improves access to such devices, and with the miniaturization of other technologies as well, aided by GD&T and other manufacturing advances, healthcare standards could reach new heights in the coming decades.