Category Archives: Additive Manufacturing

The Value of Medical Manufacturing Apprenticeship Programs

As technology evolves, operator skill sets must evolve and adapt to industry changes. Often times, staying on top of the curve can be difficult.

With a rapidly changing industry, it becomes increasingly dynamic to grow and maintain a qualified workforce that succeeds in the market. In 2016, nearly half (40%) of 42,000 global employers surveyed reported talent shortages also known industry-wide as a skills gap.

Employee training apprentice

Mentoring a Manufacturing Apprentice

As a result, manufacturers are crafting in-house apprenticeship programs to help bridge the skills gap and STEM education. Between 2013 and 2017, there was a 42% growth in apprenticeships across the nation, as per the United States Department of Labor. In the 2017 fiscal year alone, over 190,000 Americans entered into apprenticeship programs.

For employers, in-house apprenticeships can create a pipeline of workers with the necessary skillsets. Each manufacturer can target the specific skills needed for their positions in the apprenticeship program and workers have time to comprehend them over the course of the program.

At the apprenticeship program’s end, a credential is given to the worker to certify their occupational ability. By this point the apprentice knows the latest tools, technologies, and analytics from a firsthand source.

Manufacturing apprenticeships provide a long-term solution to talent issues. At Hammill Medical, we have a 4-year apprenticeship program established in 1955. The apprenticeship provides a valuable opportunity to learn a trade. Our program, in affiliation with the National Tooling and Machining Association, gives participants needed work experience and simultaneously covers class credits.

We evaluate participants every 90 days. You need 5,000 hours of experience to complete the program and apply course credit. The apprenticeship is company sponsored and can get participants a two year associate’s degree, or students can opt to continue on for a four year college degree.

The Hammill Medical apprenticeship program has 25-30 people enrolled in it at any one time. As we pay for the student investment, participants join our workforce upon program completion. Today, we currently have about 200 employed.

Teaching necessary skills through our in-house apprenticeship program provide great opportunities to those looking to enter a rewarding manufacturing career. It also advances our workforce so that we can continue to manufacture top-quality orthopedic and spinal implants, implantable medical units, and surgical tools.

Contact us today to learn more. Also, keep abreast of the latest industry news by following our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Moving Towards a Painless Back: Motion Preservation is Possible with Total Disc Replacement

Doctors and experts lay great stress on the disclaimer: There isn’t a single class or type of spinal treatment that can be considered the best for a patient.

The causes of back pain must be isolated and then treated case by case for a hyper-specialized solution.

But over the past decade or so the most frequently recommended course of action has been resorting to spinal fusion.

Spinal Fusion & Loss of Motion:

The premise of spinal fusion surgery is to eliminate contact and friction. The vertebrae of the spinal cord often rub against each other and surrounding soft tissues resulting in discomfort.

Through a spinal fusion surgery, screws, rods and even pieces of bone, or bone grafts, are used to turn two separate vertebrae into one functional, supported unit.

The upside of the procedure is the reduction of pain by eliminating disc friction.

The flip side of spinal fusion surgery is the loss of motion that results from fusing the discs.

Medical breakthroughs and alternatives have thus focused on the goal of motion preservation.

Research supports that one of the best ways to permit spinal flexibility, post procedure, is to completely replace the discs that are at the root of the problem. FDA approved, artificial discs allow that process to take place.

Hammill Medical is Proud to Manufacture PRODISC C/L:

PRODISC leaves room for hope, offering pain mitigation without stiffness and motion restrictions.

It is one of the only artificial disc variants in the US market.

Hammill Medical will be using our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and abilities to prototype and produce the next generation of orthopedic devices to ship PRODISC units of unparalleled quality.

This engagement will aim to make motion preservation a more common option for those with disc degeneration and other chronic and acute spinal conditions.

To stay updated on how we bring PRODISC to the market, please follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

You can also contact us here.

National Manufacturing Day and Hammill Medical Help Bridge the Skills Gap

The annual National Manufacturing Day on Friday, October 6th was created to emphasize the importance of manufacturing across the U.S. On the official website businesses can list what events are taking place at their location. Interested parties can find out what is going on nearby. Across the industry, professionals hope that a day dedicated to modern-day manufacturing will inspire a new generation to consider the field as a gratifying career option. Today, there are currently over 2,000+ events planned across the U.S., and that number is predicted to grow through the start of October.

The initiative to mend the skills gap is a driving force that brings awareness to both the National Manufacturing Day and the industry at large. With baby boomers reaching retirement age there aren’t enough millennials pursuing the field to fill such vacancies. Options to chip away at closing the gap include STEM education, training tools, and apprenticeship programs.

At Hammill, we offer a four-year formal apprenticeship program with both state and national accreditation. This kind of training tackles an internal skills gap while teaching participants necessary abilities for future involvement within both Hammill Medical and the industry at large. Creating a classroom and floor experience approach allows applicants to start their careers upon graduation. The program offers the equivalent of a two-year college and a full Journeyman machinist certification.

It’s estimated there will be a shortage of over two million manufacturing workers by the year 2025. One of the key components to overcoming this shortage is to educate the public about what manufacturing is today. Our industry is no longer the same floor shop it once was. It’s time to say goodbye to the notions that it is still your “granddad’s factory.” Today, manufacturing stands for education and execution of the latest industry technology, a secure future, and a stronger U.S. and global economy. With proper training, mentorship, and diversity, we believe manufacturing can recruit and retain high-quality skilled workers needed to keep the industry thriving beyond this time of adversity.

As a manufacturer of orthopedic and spinal implants, surgical instruments, and implantable medical devices, we know how valuable skilled employees are to our industry. To learn more about medical manufacturing, mending the skill gap, and more industry-related issues, read our blog, follow us on Twitter, connect with us on LinkedIn, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or contact us at any time. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Succeed with Us as Your Contract Manufacturer

Why Use Hammill as Your Contract Manufacturer?

There are several benefits in utilizing Hammill as a Contract Manufacturer including our state-of-the art manufacturing capability, remarkable flexibility, utmost attention to detail and our ISO and FDA compliant Quality System. We are committed to working with our customers from initial concept, through the design and manufacturing process. All of which serve to meet our valued customers’ needs and expectations of high-quality products at an affordable cost. We strive to ensure our manufacturing operation is supported, not just by a team of talented professionals but also by the latest in cutting-edge technology.

Additionally, we enjoy unmatched access to multiple markets spanning the globe and a fantastic scalability in serving partners from smaller start-ups all the way up to multinational corporations. The Hammill team has comprehensive knowledge and experience in working with the latest manufacturing technologies. We also ensure there are contingency plans in place to allow for uninterrupted delivery of promised product flow.

Specializing as a Contract Manufacturer

At Hammill, we are leaders in the manufacturing of orthopedic and spinal implants, surgical instruments, and implantable medical devices. We work from concept to finished product, offering our services at prices that might surprise you. As a contract manufacturer, our specialty is working closely with our partner firms to develop validated manufacturing solutions that consistently deliver a myriad of quality medical product and services on time and on budget. In addition to CNC machining and Swiss Turning, we also offer Finished Device Assembly, Laser Welding, Color Anodizing, Media Blasting, as well as Laser Marking and Validated Cleaning & Passivation – all in-house and fully validated.

A Family Owned and Operated Firm

Established back in 1955, Hammill Medical is proudly a family owned and operated firm. With over 175 employees and a location that features a 90,000-sq. ft. state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. You can find our company located in Maumee, Ohio, just outside of Toledo.  Fully registered with the FDA (#1530390) as a manufacturer of medical devices, we meet and exceed the good manufacturing practices guidelines it mandates.  We are ISO 13485 accredited as well. We are also proud to offer a 4-year formal apprenticeship program, with both state and national accreditation, helping to introduce new talent into America’s manufacturing ranks.

Bringing New Products to Market

We at Hammill are dedicated to bringing new products to market on time and on budget with our specialized in-house tooling, gage design, team manufacturing methodology and focus on quality control. Discover more about Hammill Medical by calling (419) 476-0789 or emailing us at info@hammillmedical.com. Be sure to keep up with our latest news by reading our blog, following us on Twitter, and connecting on LinkedIn.

We look forward to working with you on your next project.

Sterilization in the Medical Industry

As an industry-leading, family-owned and operated manufacturer of orthopedic and spinal implants, surgical instruments, and implantable medical devices, Hammill Medical is deeply committed to our customers; part of this commitment is the promise to keep all clients and end users safe.

At Hammill, we understand the importance of sterilization for optimal safety in the medical field — especially in surgical instruments and implantable devices that have direct contact with the human body. But within the medical community and many others, there’s no clear-cut answer regarding which sterilization method is best; this will depend on your specific product and packaging materials.

Ethylene oxide gas and gamma sterilization are the two most common forms of sterilization. A rigorous chemical method, ethylene oxide gas treatment penetrates all porous materials and kills every known microorganism. Gamma radiation, meanwhile, makes use of a highly penetrative radioisotope emission and is often used to sterilize the surfaces of disposable medical equipment.

Once the product itself is sterilized, it’s important to make sure the packaging will preserve that sterility by protecting against damage, contamination, moisture, toxins, and the growth of microorganisms. Two of the most common packages for medical devices are pouches and trays, the latter of which have a longer lead-time due to the custom equipment required to make them.

Sealed packages must undergo packaging validation and sterilization validation to increase the shelf life of the product. Though this can be time-consuming, proper medical package design is critical, as it ensures safe and proper functionality for the customer.

While many companies use a two-part process to complete manufacturing and packaging, Hammill is proud to be a one-stop shop, supplying both sterile instruments and the sterile packaging needed for shipping. From beginning concept through manufacturing and final delivery, we ensure our customers receive high-quality products quickly and efficiently — at an affordable price.

If you’d like to learn more about the sterilization processes we use here at Hammill or are interested in discussing a future project, contact us today and one of our staff members will be in touch. And, as always, don’t forget to connect with us by following our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn, where we’ll help you stay up to date with the latest news in this ever-changing industry.

Hammill Medical Offers a Stronger Implant

Medical implants have long been used in the body when joints or other body parts are no longer able to function properly on their own. This can be from damage to the body part from repetitive motion or natural wear and tear throughout the years. Replacement implants can be made from a variety of materials, including plastics, ceramics, or metal alloys. An alloy is a combination of two or more metals. The purpose of combining the metals is that they can be less expensive, and when combined, some metal alloys become much stronger than the individual metals used.

There are different scenarios for when implants should be used, and implants can be temporary or permanent. Permanent implants are generally used in surgeries for the hips or knees when the joints have given out due to age. Prior to using an implant, an orthopedic surgeon will first examine and determine how extensive the damage is and what needs to be replaced. Things such as weight, age, activity level, and overall health will be assessed and will help determine what type of implant to use.

How Implants Work

During the surgery, an implant is often secured to the existing bone by using an acrylic cement. When an implant is needed for a permanent solution, metal alloy implants are typically the best solution. Not only can an alloy last longer, but alloys have a durability that no plastic or ceramic can match.

Traditionally, titanium has been used for making implants and has been for years. The material is lightweight, corrosion resistant, non-toxic, and the human body won’t reject it. These qualities have all made titanium and titanium alloy practical for use in implants. However, there is another, more durable alloy that can be used: cobalt-chrome (CoCr). Cobalt-chrome is a very hard material that is stronger than titanium. The high strength makes it ultra-durable for orthopedic implants in bones and joints, primarily for femoral knee replacements because of the high forces that are put on the knee joint. Due to the strength of CoCr, it can last longer and provide more strength than titanium.

 Cost Effective Implants

Hammill Medical has the ability to design and manufacture any type of orthopedic implant, spinal implant, surgical instrument, or other implantable medical device made out of CoCr or other alloys. We can work with customers from the concept stage through design and manufacturing stage to ensure you get the right product for your needs. Hammill also has the capability to manufacture the highest quality alloy parts and components, at an affordable price for your suitability. With stronger materials and a cost effective approach, Hammill Medical offers the right solutions for any company.

Our End-of-Year Recap: Looking Back on 2016

We can hardly believe it, but it’s almost time to say goodbye to 2016. Throughout the past year, we’ve had the chance to explore rapidly evolving additive manufacturing technology and relay exciting medical industry news in our blog. Before heading home for the holidays, we wanted to take a look back at a few of the year’s biggest accomplishments.

In 2016, our team explored two kinds of implantable technologies: high-tech welding and orthopedic PEEK implants. High-tech welding — a complex structural laser process — is an all-encompassing technology that takes implantable components from assembly to function verification and finally through cleaning and passivation before shipment. By using high-tech welding to melt components into tighter joints, we’ve been able to create safer spinal implants for patients.

PEEK implants are comprised of the organic polymer thermoplastic, polyether ether ketone — a material with mechanical properties similar to human bones. Featuring tiny pits on the surface, these flexible implants improve biocompatibility and encourage new bone cell growth in orthopedic and spinal patients. By incorporating these state-of-the-art technologies into our manufacturing processes, the Hammill team continues to work toward our ultimate goal of restoring patients’ quality of life.

This past year, we also studied how professional sports can affect athletes’ health over time. We analyzed MLB pitchers and catchers frequent elbow and shoulder injuries, specific warm-up routines to reduce injuries in youth FIFA programs, and new NFL helmet rules to minimize head, neck, and spinal injuries. Our team has worked closely with doctors and researchers to study these issues and design customized solutions for professional athletes and everyday patients alike.

Finally, in a push to give back to the industry we love, we proudly celebrated this year’s National Manufacturing Day (MFG Day). On this day — and other every day — we aim to revitalize the industry’s outdated reputation by educating the public on cutting-edge technology and exciting career opportunities. The sophisticated medical device laboratory here at Hammill is a perfect example of just how far modern-day manufacturing has come from the dirty shop floors of the past.

We would like to thank all of our customers for helping to make 2016 such an exciting, productive year, and we look forward to kicking off a successful 2017 together. From all of us at Hammill, happy holidays, and have a safe and healthy new year!

The medical world never sleeps! Continue to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest updates in the company and within our industry!

FIFA 11+ Helps Prevent Soccer Related Injuries

As experts in the medical device manufacturing industry, we like to keep up on trends happening throughout the sports world. We have previously written about injuries that players in the NFL and MLB experience in their careers. In this blog, we will take a look at soccer injuries and the changes that are in place to protect players.

Soccer, as one of the first organized sports that children play, combines running and kicking that are natural playground abilities. These skills translate easily into a team game. Kids as young as four are on teams learning coordination, hone their skills, and utilize teamwork. Soccer is a perfect first sport as, at this level, it is noncontact and serves to introduce children to being active and involved. But, as kids get older the competition and play get tougher and rougher. This is a favorite sport globally and injury risks are a worldwide concern.

In order to reduce soccer related injuries among male and female athletes aged 14 years and older, a warm-up program was developed by an international group of experts. The FIFA 11+ is a program that has been shown to reduce player injury by 30-50% in teams that performed these exercises at least twice a week. Through training and progression, player’s bodies are conditioned and strengthened to be less vulnerable to the most common strains and sprains of the legs and hips.

Head, neck, and face injuries are also a serious concern for soccer players. The risk of concussion and head/neck injuries are a result of contact and collision with other players. Heading the ball is also an issue among very young athletes who suffer harm from improper technique and repetitive actions in training. Because of this, the U.S. Soccer Federation issued new guidelines that bar children under ten from heading the ball during practice or games and limiting heading in players aged 11-13 during practice.

These training and exercise programs are having a positive influence on the sport to reduce injury risk among young players. Even with all of these precautions, there will still be injuries. Hammill Medical is a manufacturer of orthopedic and spinal implants, surgical instruments, and implantable medical devices. We are committed to working with our customers from initial concept, through design and manufacturing to produce the highest quality products at an affordable cost. Contact us today with any further inquiries.

What is National Manufacturing Day?

As the manufacturing sector continues to grow and develop, manufacturers continue to seek ways to further educate the public on the amazing new opportunities that are presenting themselves. A good deal of the American public still has misconceptions about manufacturing, the careers that are available, and the conditions of manufacturing – in fact, studies earlier this year showed that up to 50% up respondents had a view of manufacturing that conflicts with the reality of it. One of the best ways manufacturers have found to help dispel these myths is through the annual National Manufacturing Day celebrations and events.

What is National Manufacturing Day?

National Manufacturing Day is a day that has been selected for companies and community organizations to work together to plan events that are targeted at inspiring a new generation of manufacturers. It is a coordinated effort aimed at addressing misperceptions of manufacturing, through cooperation with schools and manufacturers opening their doors to the public. Manufacturing Day addresses:

  • nmd-logo-oct-2016The shortage of skilled manufacturers
  • The public image of manufacturing overall
  • Concerns and challenges facing individual manufacturing sectors and the industry as a whole
  • Interaction with the local community

Officially occurring on the first Friday of October – this year, on October 7th – the partners behind Manufacturing Day also like to stress that it can really be any day of the year. Developing future talent for the industry and working with the community should be an ongoing concern, and while most events will be on the 7th, many manufacturers and technical schools may hold events in the days surrounding it, if it is better for them and the potential workers they will host.

Hammill’s Involvement

Here at Hammill, we appreciate how Manufacturing Day demonstrates to communities that manufacturing like ours is a great career for the future. As a manufacturer of medical devices, our facility may seem more like a laboratory than the manufacturing of your father’s days. Innovative, clean, technologically advanced – a far cry from dirty, manual, back-breaking work some people envision. Our family-owned-and-operated business, ISO accredited and registered with the FDA, supplies implants and surgical instruments to a number of medical fields.

So if you are interested in a new product, a product we’ve made in the past, or are interested in learning more about apprenticeship and employment at Hammill Medical, contact us today for more information!

Can Baseball Really Take a toll on its Players?

In our March 2016 blog we wrote about the injuries football players endure while playing the game. As we come to the end of baseball season, we’re taking a look at the injuries these players are susceptible to as well. Although baseball isn’t a direct contact sport, daily games that involve throwing, batting and fielding can cause players serious injuries too.

Here’s a fact you might now know: many baseball players spend a considerable amount of time on the disabled list (DL) throughout their careers. The injuries range from minor muscle pulls to more serious orthopedic injuries. The American Journal of Orthopedics published a report, “Injury Trends in Major League Baseball Over 18 Seasons: 1998-2015.” Here we learn that the # 1 cause of placement on the DL was shoulder injuries followed by arm/elbow, and chest, back, and spine.

While most elbow issues are amongst pitchers, catchers are especially susceptible to shoulder injuries in the scenario of throwing to second in a steal situation. Shoulders become at risk of bursitis, rotator cuff tears and inflammation, shoulder instability, and shoulder separation. Since throwing hard is part of the game, all players are vulnerable to shoulder injuries.

Team medical updates: Last year, the Dodgers lost pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu to shoulder labrum surgery and at the beginning of the 2016 season, Mets starting catcher, Travis d’Arnaud, dealt with a strained rotator cuff.

Back and neck injuries are also plaguing the league as players are suffering from spinal stenosis, herniated cervical disks, and stress fractures of the spine.

At Hammill Medical, we have the capabilities to assist athletes. Innovative product lines allow us to provide implant systems that will repair injuries suffered on the diamond. For instance, our shoulder system is manufactured to the tightest tolerances in the industry and is produced with reliable and repetitive quality. We have developed and launched numerous spinal implant systems for major spine companies who trust in our capabilities.

As summer and MLB seasons start to wind down it means the start of the k-12 sports seasons. We are well aware of the injuries kids are susceptible to when playing organized sports. Keep an eye out for our future blog that takes a look at FIFA 11 and preventing soccer injuries.