Openmind is honored to catch the attention of experts, who are not directly engaged with the project, and share their opinions and ideas.
Their experience and credibility shed new light on our goals and achievements.

Here follows the interview with:

Norbert Sparrow

Norbert Sparrow
Editor in chief, PlasticsToday

Openmind project has interviewed Norbert Sparrow, Editor in chief at PlasticsToday, business-to-business media for plastics industry professionals. Prior to joining PlasticsToday in 2015, Sparrow was editor in chief of several B-to-B magazines, websites and newsletters for more than 15 years, covering the medical technology industry and associated supply chain in Europe, China and Japan. The publications included European Medical Device Manufacturer, European Medical Device Technology, medtechinsider, IVD Technology and China Medical Device Manufacturer. He earned his master’s degree in journalism at the Centre universitaire d’enseignement du journalisme in Strasbourg, France. You can follow him @norbertcsparrow.

The results of the OPENMIND project will enable physicians to work with tailored tools. Combining highly flexible processes and intelligent data mining functionality. Do you think that new horizons will be opened up for personalized medical devices with Openmind project?

Mass customization is often cited as one of the game-changing possibilities of 3D printing in applications ranging from athletic shoes to medical devices. But what is fundamentally disruptive in this proposition is mass customization—the technological/manufacturing vehicle used to achieve that is almost secondary. The OPENMIND project, as I understand it, achieves this objective as it relates to disposable medical devices—specifically to catheter guidewires and related instruments in the first stage—through a continuous production process that is truly innovative and filled with potential. Pediatrics is one field that would benefit immensely. The development of pediatric medical devices is not a high priority for medical technology companies because the population that would benefit is relatively small, making the return on investment problematic. By enabling the production of small lots of personalized devices in an uninterrupted process, OPENMIND would provide pediatric patients with access to medical technology that fits their needs. 

Which are the next challenges that OPENMIND will meet in the future according to Industry 4.0 and innovative technologies?

It borders on foolishness to attempt to develop a new manufacturing process today that does not align with Industry 4.0 principles. Choosing not to use the tools that Industry 4.0 makes available—sensors, automation, data exchange, interoperability, and more—is akin to perfecting the horseless carriage at a time when Henry Ford began mass production of the Model T. Given the brain trust within the OPENMIND project and its forward-thinking ambition, I don’t doubt that it will overcome the technical challenges in applying Industry 4.0 to this process. My one concern is cost. If the resulting device is significantly costlier to manufacture than existing products, even if it provides demonstrably superior outcomes, it will have a difficult time navigating the reimbursement route and penetrating the marketplace.