- Provide customised medical devices at an affordable price
- Change production business model from “one-size-fits-all” to mass customisation
- Mass customisation business model introduced to improve customer choice
- Enhanced production process flexibility
- Increased customer base
- CMIs produced at lower cost and with faster lead time
Baltic Orthoservice, commonly known as “Ortho Baltic”, is a Lithuanian designer and manufacturer of medical devices. Established in 2001, Ortho Baltic has become one of the largest producers of patient-specific prosthetic and orthotic devices in Europe. It has also recently expanded its product portfolio to include the production of patient-specific medical implants and surgical guides. The company produces premium quality products, 99% of which are exported to the Benelux countries, Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, the USA and the UAE.
“Why do we invest in innovation? Because we see the world changing and we try to change together with it. Things that do not change, are destined to vanish”. - Gediminas Kostkevičius, Director of Ortho Baltic
Demand for product customisation is a fast growing global trend. For manufacturers, this demand is both a challenge and an opportunity. To meet the challenge, manufacturers must innovate and become more agile and productive. They must also improve client communication to better understand client needs, opening the door to new business opportunities.
The main challenge for Ortho Baltic was to transform itself from a manufacturer of “one-size-fits-all” products into an agile manufacturer of fully customised, patient-specific products. Other important challenges included: how to customise its product range; and how to ensure its products are affordable to the general public, in terms of product and delivery costs.
The objective was to provide clients with a highly flexible design cycle and an end-product at an affordable cost. 3D printing was chosen by Ortho Baltic as the stand-out enabling solution. In 2012, the company invested in additive manufacturing technologies such as direct laser metal sintering (DLMS), selective laser sintering (SLS) and ink-jet. They have enabled the company to customise its products according to patient-specific requirements. Additive manufacturing has also enabled Ortho Baltic to expand its product and service lines to include endoprosthetic joint replacements, cranial, spinal and dental implants, bone plating systems, and single-use patient-specific surgical guides.
With the initial support of private sector finance, Ortho Baltic was able to invest in cutting-edge 3D printing technologies, which enabled the company to create the “Implant Design and Development Centre” to produce custom-made implants (CMIs). New technologies require new skillsets. Upskilling was achieved through training that was delivered in collaboration with a number of Lithuanian and European educational institutions and through in-house R&D activities.
The next stage of implementation aimed to make CMIs more affordable for customers and more widely applicable in medical treatments, with an improved lead time. Limited financial resources led Ortho Baltic to participate in a project funded through the European Horizon 2020 SME Instrument. In Phase I, the company received a EUR 50,000 grant to design a business model for the ‘mass customisation of implants’. Completed in 2016, the new model changes how medical devices are designed and manufactured, increasing customer choice and product availability, and lowering costs to make those products more affordable. For example, CMIs produced using the new model are about 21% cheaper than standard modular implants. In Phase II, the company received a grant of EUR 1.589 million to develop a mass customisation system for the production of custom-made medical implants. Phase II was launched in 2017 and is expected to run until mid-2019. It is expected to achieve a 40% overall reduction in CMI costs (on average EUR 3,260 per CMI) by 2023 and a lead time of less than two weeks.
Consumer demand is driving mass customisation. Developing the capacity to meet that growing demand is critical to the company’s competitiveness. To realise its mass customisation vision, Ortho Baltic has changed its relationship with its customers. Customers are no longer recipients of value, they are co-creators of value. Customers are now an integral part of product design and development.
Investment in additive manufacturing technologies has also enabled Ortho Baltic to better respond to customer demands, resulting in more satisfied customers and increased demand for products.
The Results and Benefits
Investment in new technologies has underpinned Ortho Baltic’s work to introduce much greater flexibility into its design and development processes. 3D printing technology has enabled the company to deliver products of outstanding quality at an affordable price. Ortho Baltic has consequently gained new international customers and has achieved an annual turnover of approximately EUR 4.36 million.
In 2013, Ortho Baltic was awarded the National Prize for Achievements in Science and Business Cooperation.
In 2015, the company was recognised as a Leader in 3D Technology in Lithuania for the application of additive manufacturing in the production of medical devices.