Olivier Henry, can you tell us about Initial?
O.H: In a few words, innovation, acceleration, and production are the lifeblood of Initial. We take pride in guiding our clients through the innovation process. Initial has been in existence for 30 years now, and we now have 100 people working for us and 60 different production tools. Initial is also ISO 9001 and EN 9100 certified. All this allows us to offer our clients an experience tailored to their needs. Our offering ranges from individual services to end-to-end support in the product development area.
Olivier Nallet, can you introduce yourself and tell us about your core business?
O.N: EDAP TMS celebrated 40 years in business last year. We manufacture urology operating theatre equipment. We previously had 2 product ranges. A first range of Lithotrite machines used for crushing kidney stones. We now also have a second High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) range. This technology was developed to initially treat prostate cancer.
How did the idea of incorporating additive manufacturing in your project come about?
O.N: Originally, these parts were machined. However, as more and more technology was integrated, we needed to gain access and also to improve the cooling process. Over time, machining these parts became increasingly problematic, as it no longer offered any benefits. We needed to find an alternative to improve access and increase efficiency to gain more cooling. The idea of making these parts with metal fusion gradually took hold.
How did INITIAL respond to EDAP TMS’ request?
O.H: To start with, we produced prototypes. They were not intended to be functional but were needed to validate a shape or a size. At the start, these parts were produced using stereolithography and polyamide powder sintering. Then the need to make metal parts emerged.
Can you tell us more about the metal fusion technology used?
O.H: Laser metal fusion enabled us to meet this need because it can be used to create shapes and functions that we were unable to obtain using conventional processes. For example, cooling channels are very specific shapes that cannot be created using machining.
Who is this product aimed at?
O.N: This product is used by urologists but, ultimately, it is the patients who benefit, particularly in the case of prostate cancer treatment. Over time, it will be possible to use this technology for treating other conditions such as endometriosis, liver cancer, or pancreatic cancer. These treatments are only at a clinical stage, but the prospects are very promising.
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