Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Fab Lab helps bring ophthalmic product to market

Fab Lab, Manchester, UK, hi-tech fabrication facility from The Manufacturing Institute, where anyone with an idea can make almost anything they want, has helped TrusTECH, the NHS organisation that is part of the NHS Innovation Hub network, to bring a new product for use in cataract surgery from prototype stage to market.

Mr Bruno Zuberbuhler, Consultant Cataract and Refractive Surgeon at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital had been focusing on cataract surgery for the past six years, and in particular, on the use of toric lenses. After a year in Manchester, he had an innovative idea for cataract surgery, but needed a prototype making.

TrusTech work with clinicians within the NHS, helping to take medical-orientated concepts through to commercial product. When contacted by a clinician, they validate the clinical need, look at the intellectual property landscape, undertake market research to see whether there are similar products on the market and assess whether a product has commercial value.

Up to now, monofocal lenses have been used, which when implanted in the eye provide either good distance vision or good near vision. The newer toric lenses on the market that can compensate for corneal astigmatism. But they have to be placed on the exact same axis as the astigmatism is and therefore have to be rotated. They developed a single-use instrument that helps align the lenses along the correct axes.

Utilising FabLab, TrusTech helped bring the initial concept toric marker idea to a first prototype. By looking at Bruno’s initial design and then at competing products, Trustech funded some prototype work and evaluation at Fab Lab, following it up with a patent and registered design application.

TrusTech were able to use FabLab’s digital design facility to quickly take the product from a 3D design to a 3D model printed on FabLab’s 3D printer. The Fab Lab is packed with computer controlled fabrication equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, milling machines, sewing and embroidery machines and all the variety of electronic components and materials needed to make prototype products.

Malosa Medical were identified by TrusTech as a suitable commercial partner, and were very interested in the project and took an agreement whereby they sell the Toric Marker on behalf of the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.

Prototypes were tried and tested in theatre, and TrusTech acted as knowledgeable intermediary between design and final manufacture for market.

The Manchester Fab Lab