Tangible Solutions in a Dynamic Market
Tangible Solutions, a contract manufacturer of 3D-printed titanium orthopedic implants, initially offered a broad range of additive manufacturing (AM) services, including design and training seminars for a variety of industries when it started in a garage in 2013. But company executives Adam Clark, CEO, and Chris Collins, COO, made a strategic decision in 2016 to focus solely on the market for 3D-printed titanium orthopedic implants, and from that point onward they turned down work that did not advance this core focus.
After expanding twice, the company’s production facility is currently 25,000 square feet, and Tangible has grown to 30 employees. Revenue has doubled in each of the past three years and is expected to double again in 2021 and 2022. On top of organic growth, demand is high this year because so many orthopedic surgeries were delayed in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Reflecting on the challenges of growing the company, Clark said, “In the early days, going from plastics to metals and from prototyping to contract manufacturing was a challenge. It was sometimes hard to stay focused as we were trying to drive revenue and expand, but it was the best decision we ever made. We recruited professionals passionate about orthopedics, which helped us quickly become experts in the entire product development lifecycle and how to best support our customers.”
Tangible has a handful of competitors in its niche; however, it is the only U.S. company solely focused on the AM printing of orthopedic implants. Company expertise in the FDA regulatory process adds a great deal of value for customers. Tangible can help customers walk through the regulatory process, because, with upwards of 40 designs approved in the past five years, they have learned how to communicate effectively with the FDA and have often dealt with the challenge before.
Growth is coming from two sources. The inventory of orthopedic products continues to expand as new product designs are brought to market; orthopedic surgeons provide feedback on existing designs and often request slight modifications and improvements in the design. In just the past 18 months, for example, there have been advancements in manipulating the surface of implants to better enable “in growth,” or the growth of bone into the implanted device. Coupled with this, OEMs are slowly shifting their portfolio from traditionally machined titanium products to AM only products.
“The orthopedic industry is becoming more comfortable with using contract manufacturers, and we are becoming more knowledgeable and experienced in the ecosystem every year. We are always in a state of transformation and accepted this as our ‘normal state’ a long time ago. It can be a challenge to keep up the pace, but our orders keep growing, and this is an excellent problem to have,” said Chris Collins, COO.
Tangible uses specialty design software packages, such as nTopology, for engineering design and simulation, and the company has become well known for its expertise in welding with nTopology, enabling it to better support customers’ design evolutions and make better recommendations from a manufacturing standpoint.
Tangible Solutions is formally registered with the FDA as a nationally recognized contract manufacturer of class (I), (II), and (III) 3D printed titanium implants. The company has ISO 13485:2016 accreditation.