Medical Design Blog

  1. Sitting Down With Synectic’s 2017 Summer Intern

    When people think of summer they think of hot days by the pool sipping cold drinks or a fun day with friends and family at the beach, but here at Synectic, summer signifies a new intern. Synectic’s highly sought after paid internship program is an excellent opportunity for young engineers to get valuable hands-on experience that will help them throughout their careers. After careful review of the many applicants, we chose Heather Stratica to intern with us this summer. Originally from New York, Heather is a Biomedical Engineering major, with a concentration in Biomedical Instrumentation, at Worchester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. I had a chance to speak with Heather about why she chose to intern at Synectic and what her internship experience was like.

     

    Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I know all the projects here have kept you very busy the last few weeks. Starting off, let’s talk a little about your background. What made you pursue a career in engineering?

    HS: From a young age I noticed that I was naturally good at math and science and I really enjoyed those topics in school. Because of this, as I grew older, I began to take part in STEM and particularly women focused STEM programs to get a better understanding of what my options where in those fields. It didn’t take long before I realized I wanted to become an engineer and not just to design new things, but to have the general mindset of an engineer and have the ‘problem solver’ mentality. This mentality is something that has been useful in every aspect in my life and I’m glad to have chosen a path that has impacted me so positively.

    Heather, you’re originally from New York and go to school in Massachusetts, out of all the places you could have interned with, why did you choose Synectic?

    HS: My concentration is in biomedical instrumentation and Synectic’s main focus for years has been medical devices. This is exactly what I want to work with after college so I reached out and learned about the internship program. I thought it would be a great way to learn about what medical device engineers do at a company like Synectic.

    We are so happy you were able to spend your summer working at Synectic. As you are preparing to go back to your final year in school, how has your time here advanced your knowledge? 

    HS: Most of my engineering education has come from a classroom setting, with some projects thrown in as we assess mechanical and biomedical designs. My time at Synectic allowed me to utilize what I learned in school, in a ‘real world’ setting. Since it’s a rather small company, I learned a lot about how a medical device company actually functions and not just from the engineer’s perspective. I also participated in pilot production of a major product allowing me to participate in the entire process from concept to production. To me, all of this is valuable knowledge that can’t be taught in a classroom, and I am glad Synectic gave me the opportunity to gain this experience.

    Heather, given your experience while working with us, would you consider coming back to work at Synectic full time?

    HS: Yes, I would love to come back to Synectic! It’s a great atmosphere to work in and the projects are plentiful and intriguing. You are required to think outside-the-box and challenge yourself daily. One of the best parts about working at Synectic is that you get to see the entire concept to production process. It’s great to see all your hard work pay off when the product goes to market.

    We would love to have you back at Synectic as well. One last question that I’m sure everyone reading this wants to know. Tell me something about yourself and what you like to do outside work and school?

    HS: I am a first generation American scholar, as both of my parents emigrated from Romania and worked very hard to get where they are today, instilling in me a very strong work ethic. I’m from Wappingers Falls, NY and came from a very small high school where I had about 30 people in my graduating class. I swam competitively for about 8 years and just retired that this spring, however, I teach swim lessons to share my passion with others.

     

  2. Announcing This Year’s MD&M East Raffle Winner!

    Synectic’s President Adam Lehman announces this year’s MD&M East Raffle Winner

    We want to thank everyone who participated in MD&M East this year and for everyone who visited Synectic’s booth this year. We had our best turnout this year and the show would not have been as successful without your support. We hope to see you all again at our booth next year.


    Learn more about Synectic

    View our case studies

    Find out more about our manufacturing capabilities

    Read our blog to stay on top of all that’s happening at Synectic

     

  3. How to Choose: The Truth About Resins

    By Scott Rishell, Design Engineer, Mack Molding and Kathleen Murray, Communications Manager, Synectic Engineering

    One of the largest advantages of choosing Synectic Engineering for your next project is its relationship with its parent company Mack Molding. As a leading custom plastics molder and contract manufacturer serving a range of markets – medical, industrial, transportation, energy/environment, computer/business and consumer – Mack’s customers are varied and so are their needs. Mack’s 95+ years of molding allows them to choose materials based on customer specifications, moldability of design, and cost. Choosing the right material early in the design process, streamlines the time and cost to market by picking the correct path every time. This a value add in the design cycle, for both our clients and our design process.

    To meet the diverse requirements presented by so many programs, Mack has vertically integrated services, including design, prototyping, supply chain management, machining, sheet metal fabrication, molding, painting, assembly, testing and even fulfillment. Working together, we are able to offer our client’s a full portfolio of services from concept to production. Synectic and Mack combined have over 130 years of knowledge and experience allowing us to stay competitive in an always changing market.

    One area where we often find the most distinctiveness is in resin selection. Mack has a wide portfolio of molded parts, and each is unique based on the customers’ requirements. Beyond aesthetics, like color, a material’s properties, processability and cost all play a key role in determining a resin’s suitability for an application. With thousands of grades to choose from, and new ones being developed to fill market niches, customers often turn to us to help them navigate the resin selection process.

    Here are some of our key considerations we weigh when making a selection:

    Mechanical Requirements
    A part’s strength requirements need to be considered as resin classes have various tensile strength, tensile modulus and elongation at break. Thermoplastic resins offer a variety of strength properties that can often be modified with fillers like glass or carbon fiber.

    Chemical Compatibility
    Many customers are concerned about how chemicals, including cleaning solvents and process reagents, interact with their resin selection. In these cases we consult published testing data from resin manufacturers that show a material’s performance in each chemical.  In some cases the data may not exist and testing with specific chemicals will be requested.

    Environmental Compatibility
    Parts that will be exposed to extreme hot or cold conditions need to be made with resins that are rated accordingly, making the long term service temperature and heat deflection temperature critical performance metrics. Other conditions to consider include exposure to UV light and high humidity.

    Commodity vs. Performance
    Whenever possible Mack strives to pair customer applications with commodity resin grades due to the inherent cost and availability advantages that come with higher volume raw material production.  Some projects call for specific properties – strength, heat resistance, etc. – which is where performance resins excel.

    Amorphous vs. Semi-crystalline
    Selecting amorphous resins can often be advantageous as they can provide wider processing windows and improved dimensional control due to their random molecular structure. They can be transparent and are compatible with many adhesives. Semi-crystalline materials offer improved mechanical and thermal properties but can be more difficult to process.

    Material Shrinkage
    The amount a resin shrinks during the molding process can have a huge impact on the ease of building a tool or developing a successful molding process. For this reason we try to select resins that have lower shrink rates whenever possible.

    Once all of these factors are accounted for, the list of suitable resins is typically cut down to a manageable number to consider. It is here that the Synectic and Mack team leverages its proficiency with particular materials, coupled with expertise in design and development, to make the final determination of a grade.

    Are you considering using plastic injection molding for your next project? Contact Synectic today and we will work with you to develop a product with the most optimal material selected for product performance and moldability. Let us show you how we can bring your ideas to life!


    Check out our other article in this series How to Choose: The Truth About Fixed-Fee vs. Time-and-Materials

    Learn more about our manufacturing capabilities

  4. Can You Escape? Synectic Survives Escape New Haven

    If you have not heard about the latest craze popping up everywhere, an escape room involves putting a group of people in a room with a scenario and a set amount of time in order to solve a series of puzzles to “escape” from the room. Escape New Haven offered the perfect opportunity to try out one of these rooms during our latest company outing.

    Synectic was split into two teams and given the following scenario: You are a crew of scavengers in space. You’ve discovered an abandoned space station orbiting a distant moon. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to scavenge this station for its four valuable energy crystals. Find the crystals, and while you’re at it, also try to find out what’s happened here. Don’t let your oxygen run out, and keep an eye out for danger. You don’t want whatever happened to the crew to happen to you, too…

    Armed with only our wits, each team had 60 minutes to complete the task before us. Although neither team made it out on time (on average there is only a 20% success rate) we all had a fun afternoon filled with problem solving and team building. Which team did better, you ask? Remarkably, both Synectic teams were on the exact same puzzle when the clocked stopped, proving that no matter which of our engineers work on your project you will get the same results. If your team is facing a puzzling product development challenge, contact Synectic and we’ll develop the perfect solution. Let us demonstrate how we can bring your product development ideas to life.

     

    Jeff and Julie try out a puzzle before entering “The Room”

     

    Jeff, Jesse, Joe, and Ernest work together on some puzzles

     

    Synectic’s winning team

     

    Relaxing at BAR; celebrating our escape

     

  5. Synectic Celebrates a Lifetime of Achievements

     

    It is with mixed emotions that Synectic announces the retirement of Vinny Mata, one of our most distinguished senior product development engineers.

    I was able to sit down with Vinny one last time before he left. Here is what he had to say about his time at Synectic.

    Vinny, you have such a rich engineering background, what brought you to Synectic?

    VM: I was originally introduced to the previous owner of Synectic, Jeff Stein, through a mentor of mine. Over the years I worked with him on various projects, as a contractor, before I went into medical device design. Then, about 10 years ago, I was looking to leave the company I was work at and I asked Jeff if I could use him as a reference. Well, he did way more than offer me a good reference, he invited me to come work for him. I had really enjoyed, working with him in the past, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Synectic offered the fun, family-like environment that I was looking for.

    I’m so glad things worked out the way they did. You have worked on some pretty amazing projects throughout the years. What were some of your favorites while working here?

    VM: One of my favorite projects was working on the 5mm laparoscopic stapler from Just Right surgical. The client challenged us to push the project to the limits with design and materials. Our team rose to the challenge and we were able to change the technology, making a significant impact in pediatric laparoscopic technology.

     

    Vinny, you have definitely left your mark on this place and I can assure you, you will not be forgotten.  What advice can you give to an engineering that is just starting their career?

    VM: I recommend finding a company that nurtures and encourages you to master every aspect of product development from engineering to manufacturing. Seek out an environment where you can simultaneously contribute and expand your mind. You want driven colleagues who have a willing attitude to learn from each other and gladly share their knowledge. At Synectic the senior engineers spend time mentoring the junior engineers, encourage questions, and are willing to try a new approach. Even with all our years’ experience, we are still open to learning from the younger generation just entering the field. Synectic is also great for those looking to go into medical device development. You are not just working on one project in one specialty all the time. We have to learn all the anatomical systems and the projects change quite often. We learn everything from cardiovascular to tissue management and must know how to tie that into mechanical engineering.

     

    Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. We are really happy that you chose to work at Synectic and we are sorry to see you go. What do you plan to do with your time now that you are retiring?

    VM: I am an avid fisher and boater and I plan to do a lot more of both.

    Good luck Vinny in wherever life brings you to next!

  6. How to Choose: The Truth About Fixed-Fee vs. Time-and-Materials

    In the world of medical product development, OEMs looking to keep costs controlled are leaning more and more towards outsourcing design or consulting services. As with any client/vendor relationship, the financial arrangement between the two companies can cause the most friction. When deciding what arrangement works best for both parties, most often the choices can be broken down into two categories: fixed-fee vs. time-and-materials. Both involve an agreement centered on a predefined scope, but the difference is that in fixed-fee the amount agreed upon is preset, while in a time-and-materials setting the vendor is paid for hours worked.

    Let’s break it down further:

    One of the greatest advantages, to the client, in a fixed-fee arrangement, is transparency of cost. They are less likely to get “sticker shock” at the end of the project and can budget accordingly. This type of arrangement forces the vendor to work as efficiently as possible and focus on the end game. If the vendor completes the scope of work on time then the agreed price is paid, but if they run over time, they are still contractually obligated to complete the work, while simultaneously eating any additional cost. In order for a vendor to stay in the black with fixed-fee projects, they must focus on quoting small, manageable scopes of work that ultimately mitigate risk and can be performed on time. Where the vendor can run into trouble is when they don’t adequately define the scope parameters to the client, as anything outside the scope is an extra cost. To that end, OEMs need to ensure that the deliverables and quality expectations are clearly outlined at the start of the project.

    On the flip side, with time-and-materials the advantage lies in the dynamic control the client has over the vendor’s work.  The vendor in turn is incentivized to keep up-selling the product to lengthen the scope. The flexibility of time and material however, does have a downside: without a clearly defined scope, it can be very easy for a project to go off track leaving the OEM with a large bill and little to show for it. The key to success in this type of agreement is a clear understanding, by both parties, of what the required tasks are and how long they should take to complete.

    As we have just seen, there are advantages to both agreements and deciding which would best fit your organization can be difficult. OEMs need to take into consideration their business philosophy, product design history, and the structure of their organization. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding which way your organization should lean.

    Traits that make an organization more suited for a fixed-fee arrangement include:

    • Ability to sign off on large milestone payments without getting bogged down in red tape
    • Time driven results
    • An organization based on trust where open communication is valued
    • Trust in the vendor’s process to achieve the best results

    Traits that make an organization more suited for time-and-materials arrangement:

    • Require freedom to change the scope at will, regardless of the cost
    • Unable to define the next scope without previous results
    • Preference for managing all aspects of product development
    • Desire to make decisions based on large data samples
    • More comfortable with incremental payments instead of one large lump sum
    • Need a wide array of choices and an overall consensus before making a decision

    As seen above, there are many factors that go into choosing which payment arrangement is right for your company; a harrowing endeavor for OEMs new to the process. This is why we offer the Synectic Solution. With over 38 years of experience and a senior staff of engineers, we can accommodate even the most complex projects and demanding clients. We not only have extensive experience in medical device design, but our talents include aerospace, capital equipment, material handling, and automotive as well. Synectic consistently quotes projects along a fixed fee schedule so that we can align our goals to meet the client’s, all while keeping their best interest in mind. Even the smallest scope of work is another step towards a stronger, more confident, vendor/client relationship and a chance for us to earn another piece of the project. If you are considering outsourcing your design or consulting services, we would be happy to walk you through the Synectic Solution and show you how we can bring your ideas to life.

  7. Spotlight on STEM: Synectic at Polson Middle School

     

    What happens when you take a class of eighth graders, office supplies, and Synectic Engineering? You get the best STEM career day ever!

     

    Mac McMurray getting ready to speak with the students at Polson Middle School about product design

     

    Synectic’s Mac McMurray and Kathleen Murray visited Polson Middle School in Madison, CT for their Math and Science Career Day. They met with three classes of eighth graders to discuss product design engineering and put those concepts to the test. The students were given a scenario and some office supplies with the task of constructing a paper airplane.

    FDM printed 3D plane given to the winner

    Once complete, they were able to test and re-engineer their design, before competing against their classmates to see who could fly their plane the farthest. The winner of each class received a 3D printed stealth fighter from Synectic’s own FDM machine. Synectic wants to thank Polson Middle School for inviting us to talk about a rewarding career in STEM. We had an amazing time.

     

    Do you have a child who may be interested in an engineering career? Try out our airplane scenario at home and see where it may take them.

    • You will need:
      • Construction paper
      • Paper clips
      • Pencils
      • Tape
      • Scissors
      • Any other office supplies you want to add
    • Scenario: You need to get a message across a river using a paper airplane
    • Suggestions: Set a distance goal for the airplane that will be the river in this scenario. Have your child design what they feel is the ideal paper airplane using any of the above materials. Once they are done designing, they can test it out to see how far it can fly. Does the plane make it across the river? If not, discuss with them how they can make it fly farther. Talk to them about some physical and environmental challenges, such as wind and weight, which may prevent it from flying further. Have them re-engineer their airplane using the same piece of paper, and then retest. For an added challenge you can pretend that you are the client and give your child specifications for how you want the plane built, such as only using one piece of paper, two paperclips, and three pieces of tape. Does their plane fly better using the challenge items? Why or why not? Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

    Mac’s son Ryder with his paper airplane design


    For more STEM projects you can do at home click here

    To see what products the engineers at Synectic have designed and developed click here

  8. Just Arrived: Synectic’s Newest Product Design Engineer

    Synectic is growing and growing!  We welcomed Jeff Saller as a new Senior Product Design Engineer at the beginning of this year.  Jeff has a rich background involving multiple facets of engineering, including product design and development, bringing a lot to our organization.  A native of Milford for over 20 years, Jeff is excited to join a great team so close to home.  I was able to speak with Jeff for a few minutes about his background and here is what I found out:

    Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.  I know Synectic keeps you busy with all the new and interesting projects we have.  Can you tell me a little more about your background and what interested you in Mechanical and Product Design Engineering?

    • JS: My father was a chemical engineer and had a lot of influence on me.  My real interest started when I was 12 working on bikes and small engines.  I became a mechanical engineer and my first job out of college was at a small startup in Stamford.  When the company was sold, I transferred to Wisconsin and worked as manufacturing engineering on scientific instrumentation products for five years.  After that I came back to Connecticut and worked in manufacturing, product design, aerospace, and engineering management.  I gained a lot of experience and skills that have allowed me to grow as an engineer.

    Wow! You really have a varied background and must have worked on a variety of products over the years. Out of all the medical device development companies out there, what attracted you to Synectic?

    • JS:  I have worked for various start-ups in the past and I like the small team feel and fast pace.  Synectic offers this, but has experience and proven results that allow a constant stream of new projects and challenges.  In the short time I have been here, I have never been bored.  While I am learning new skills every day, I am also able to use my past experience working in manufacturing and production engineering to meet the needs of our customers.

    Jeff, since we can’t talk about what projects you are currently working on, what has been your favorite project you worked during your career?

    • JS:  I was part of a team that created a handheld spectrometer.  It had interchangeable heads to allow for a variety of sampling applications.  One of these was for detecting thermal damage to sections of an airplane, that had been struck by lightning, in order to identify areas needing repair.

    That is really cool!  You will definitely work on equally awesome projects at Synectic.  Now, enough about work.  What do you like to do when you aren’t designing medical products?

    • JS:  I’m an avid golfer and cyclist. I also like to play guitar. I’m married with two grown children and like to spend my spare time with my family and friends.

     

    To learn more about Synectic’s other Product Design Engineers click here

    Click here if you want to see medical products we have designed

  9. Come Visit Synectic at BIOMEDevice Boston 2017

    Synectic’s Mac McMurray and Adam Lehman will be at BIOMEDevice Boston at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in Boston, MA on May 3rd and 4th. BIOMEDevice Boston is New England’s largest medtech event and Synectic is proud to be a part of it. See how Synectic can help you bring your ideas to life at booth number 170.

  10. Meet Amanda, Synectic’s Newest Team Member

    Synectic is excited to introduce our newest Associate Design Engineer, Amanda Konieczny. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and is currently working on her Masters in Engineering Operations Management at University of New Haven. Originally a native of West Springfield Massachusetts, Amanda is excited to begin her career as part of the Synectic team. I had the opportunity to speak with Amanda to learn a little more about her.

    Amanda, women working in engineering is slowly becoming more common, but you still don’t see them every day. What interested you in pursuing a career in mechanical engineering?

    AK: No one in my family is an engineer. When I expressed an interest, I was discouraged by my peers and mentors and basically told that I ‘couldn’t do it’ which in turn motivated me to succeed and to prove them wrong. It wasn’t easy, and I learned mostly by doing. I originally wanted to work in aerospace, but sophomore year of college, I switched to mechanical engineering because I wanted a broader experience. I worked at Synectic as a contractor and really enjoyed working in medical devices. A lot of the stuff Synectic works on is very interesting and challenging.

    How have you overcome some of the challenges facing you as a woman in a male dominated field?

    AK: During my junior year of college I spent 8 weeks in Himachal Pradesh India as part of my Interactive Qualifying Project. Our project was improving agricultural practices in farm lands in Mandi by technological intervention. My biggest take away was how different cultures interact, mainly in terms of male to male and female to female communication. Most times, traditional Indian males will not even shake a female’s hand. From that experience, I learned that in order to be successful as a female engineering you have to exude confidence and poise as well as speak with conviction. If you act shy, then your male coworkers will steamroll you.

    Amanda, out of all the companies you could have chosen to work for, what interested you the most about Synectic?

    AK: The projects at Synectic move at a quick pace and you always have a variety of things to work on. During my time here as a contractor, I learned so much more then I could have ever learned in school. You are constantly getting challenged from both your boss and the clients, so I am never bored and I have a lot of autonomy in my work. Best of all, the people at Synectic form a close knit team creating a great work environment.

    We are so glad that you chose to work at Synectic! Tell us a little bit more about yourself. What are your interests and hobbies?

    AK: I’m an avid swimmer. On the weekends I teach swimming to special needs children and adults. I also love to go to the gym. When I’m not swimming or at the gym, I like to spend time with my three dogs Sophie, Lexi, and Maggie.