Department of Mechanical Engineering

Optimising function and cost of orthopaedic implants

Department of Mechanical Engineering in collaboration with DePuy International.

There were three major benefits in involving Bath. They had high-level costing expertise of a kind we didn’t have in-house. They have a view that draws upon working with many other industries, which can bring new insights into ours. And finally, they could focus on optimisation and offer us ways of managing large volumes of information, which is difficult for us to achieve given our very wide spread of commitments across the company.

— Dr Karen Morton, DePuy Orthopaedics Worldwide

Challenge

Orthopaedic implant design and manufacturer DePuy approached the University for support in addressing challenges faced by the company in extending its market. In order to extend their market with eastern countries, DePuy’s products required optimisation to reduce manufacturing costs, and therefore product costs in the market, while maintaining the quality of the implant.

Solution

Experts in life-cost estimating at the University worked with DePuy to optimise their design process. By introducing interventions during the early stages of the design process and providing an evaluation of the various designs developed before they were taken forward to prototype, the research team was able to select those designs that offered a price advantage and quality at an early stage.

The team also evaluated the needs of the Chinese market by studying interviews with surgeons in order to understand the company’s competitor’s price points and the surgeons’ requirements from orthotic implants.

 

 

Benefits and outcomes

Through identifying an opportunity to make cost savings early in the design process, our research team have helped DePuy to meet its goal of optimising products, reducing implant prices while maintaining quality.

As a result of this project the company now works closely with the University’s undergraduate students on project modules. An MSc student is currently evaluating other applications in DePuy’s product range for the optimisation technique developed through this project.