SME: Autocam Medical Featured in SME’s Humans of Manufacturing Heroes Edition

When it comes to shifting production to aid in the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges can exist even if the product isn’t a sharp deviation from products you normally manufacture. That’s what Kentwood, Mich.-based Autocam Medical, a global contract manufacturer of orthopedic implants, spinal implants, precision instruments and orthopedic cutting tools, discovered.

As the pandemic swept around the globe, hospitals found themselves with an extreme shortage of ventilators necessary to treat and save COVID-19 patients who developed more serious respiratory complications from the virus. While engineers around the world rushed to develop cheaper and easier to build emergency ventilators and companies of all types and sizes pitched in to expand existing ventilator production, Dr. Kyle VanKoevering of MakeMedical, LLC, approached Autocam Medical with a drawing of a “splitter” device that could enable one ventilator to assist two patients at the same time.

Dr. VanKoevering, a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, designed the splitter to double the capacity of the vitally needed ventilators. The “splitter” device, called VentMI (Ventilate Multiple Individuals), serves to provide mechanical ventilation to two patients from a single ventilator.

“We know that Individualized pressure control and the addition of other components is the key to effective ventilation,” said Dr. VanKoevering. “Combining custom pressure regulators and one-way valves, this system has been tested in simulated lung and animal environments and has Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from FDA.”

Although Dr. VanKoevering has broad experience in the application of 3D Printing for diagnostic and surgical applications, having played a key role in several groundbreaking and novel uses of additive manufacturing in medicine, and used the technology for initial design and engineering, final manufacturing of the device would benefit from more traditional manufacturing processes.

Enter Autocam Medical. Dr. VanKoevering approached the company, asking if they could use their medical manufacturing skills and experience to rapidly develop prototypes of several components for the piece. To which the company responded with a resounding, “Yes!”

Autocam’s experiencing making medical components and their existing certification to do so, made the company a perfect choice for the assignment.

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