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Designing Medical Devices with Finite Element Analysis

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You’re likely already familiar with finite element analysis (FEA) and its use in medical device development. From stress-strain to thermal heating to fatigue, FEA is an indispensable part of the product development process.

By simulating the use (and potential misuse) of a product, engineers calculate stresses and strains under different loading conditions. Typically, the engineers who handle finite element analysis are separate from the design team. They specialize in that one technique, and in the specialized software used for such analysis.

This separation of skills adds time, as the design team throws their ideas over the fence to the analysis team and waits for results. When results are returned, the design team is left to interpret them, make changes, and again it goes back to the finite element analysts. This is a time-consuming process that slows down development.

At REV.1 Engineering, our analysts are also designers, and have the ability to test during the design phase. Marrying design capabilities with FEA skills speeds up development significantly, as the design team is constantly analyzing while designing, lowering the number of iterations.

When a design engineer also understands finite element analysis, it adds a deep understanding around parts and materials that improve initial design trials. This also speeds up the development process, since fewer design cycles are needed to create a working model.

One common application of finite element analysis is testing for fatigue failure. A stent, for example, must withstand a pulsing artery at 60+ beats per minute for at least 10 years. Calculating the cyclical load on the device is a critical factor in the product’s success. When design and FEA are combined, rather than separated into two teams, a successful design can be achieved much more quickly and efficiently.

Another common occurrence is scheduling FEA after design freeze. In many cases, the results of the analysis come back to the design team and kicks the product back into the design phase… wasting time and money. At REV.1 Engineering, as soon as the need for finite element analysis presents itself, we work it into the schedule prior to design freeze, ensuring a truly complete and analyzed design.

REV.1 Engineering is ready to put your device development on hyper-speed. We can step in immediately as your full service, 2x Faster R&D team. Give us a call at 951.696.3933, connect with us on LinkedIn, or send us an email at