Manufacturing is a complex field with many disciplines and approaches. As a leading contract manufacturer for medical devices, we’re often asked to explain how different manufacturing strategies relate to one another. So today, let’s take a few minutes to define and contrast two essential types of manufacturing: contract manufacturing and original equipment manufacturing. 

What is Contract Manufacturing?

Contract manufacturing involves outsourcing part of a product’s manufacturing to a third party. Many companies use this approach to pass demanding production activities onto a third-party partner—known as the contract manufacturer (CM). CM’s manufacture parts or products for the OEM on a contract, producing them based on a set design or formula.

One advantage of contract manufacturing is that it helps companies produce and sell valuable products without having to invest in their own equipment, machinery, and other production resources. Outsourcing manufacturing allows the OEM to free up capital, minimize labor costs and commit additional resources towards R&D and other efforts that add value to the product. 

Contract Manufacturing for Medical Devices

In the context of medical device manufacturing, medical device OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) often partner with CMs to secure complex or high-precision parts for their next-generation products. Marshall offers a variety of precision machining processes for medical device manufacturing, ranging from CNC Swiss Machining to 3D Wire and Tube Bending. We use a variety of specialized machines to craft durable, extremely accurate components for medical devices and surgical instruments. 

At Marshall, our objective is to dramatically impact manufacturing costs for our customers, while preserving or enhancing product functionality. By partnering with Marshall Manufacturing, our medical customers gain access to a wide array of machined components and assemblies—driving faster production, consistent part quality, and substantial cost savings in the process. 

What is a Medical Device Original Equipment Manufacturer?

A medical device can be as simple as a tongue depressor—or a highly complex device such as a pacemaker. A medical device OEM is responsible for the design, manufacturing, packaging, sterilization and FDA clearances for finished medical devices and components. OEM’s often subcontract some of the manufacturing of components to a specialized contract manufacturer such as Marshall Manufacturing.

In the context of medical device manufacturing, OEMs design, engineer and manufacture complete products and systems—as well as component parts and sub-assemblies in some cases. Medical device OEMs may even partner with a contract manufacturer for specific projects requiring specialized equipment or processes. 

For example, Marshall often works alongside well-respected medical device OEMs to perform specific bends for surgical instruments. Our 3D wire bending expertise helps these customers incorporate advanced features into this type of medical device component (including slots, grooves and axial holes), supporting more innovative medical devices and consistent part quality. 

Types of Contract Manufacturing

CM’s offer a wide range of contract manufacturing services to their customers. Common contract manufacturing services in the medical industry include CNC Machining, Molding, Assembly, Sterilization and Packaging. It is important to partner with a contract manufacturer who provides the manufacturing services needed to support your products. Marshall has the experience, specialized equipment and processes available to assist medical device original equipment manufacturers in successfully bringing their products to market.  

Marshall Manufacturing specializes in contract manufacturing services for medical devices. We offer a wide range of capabilities for our medical customers, including CNC Laser Welding, Medical Assembly and more. We also support a variety of CNC machining capabilities for medical device manufacturing, which we leverage to minimize production costs and maximize quality

What Is the Difference Between a Joint Venture & Contract Manufacturing?

Oxford defines a joint venture as “a commercial enterprise undertaken jointly by two or more parties which otherwise retain their distinct identities.” As such, contract manufacturing is a form of joint venture, wherein the hiring manufacturer and CM operate together to combine resources, share expertise, and maximize profits. 

Choosing the Right Contract Manufacturer

Now that we’ve reviewed the definition and purpose of these two important manufacturing strategies, let’s discuss what you should look for in an ideal contract manufacturing partner. If you are seeking a third-party manufacturer to optimize your production, here are some tips to help guide your search. The right CM will: 

  • Understand customer, statutory and regulatory requirements 
  • Meet and exceed those expectations without compromise
  • Provide defect-free products, on time, every time

No matter the nature or complexity of your relationship, your contract manufacturer must remain dedicated to quality service and customer satisfaction. That’s why medical device OEMs across the nation count on us for precision machining services. 

Connect with Marshall Manufacturing

Ready to learn more about the different types of manufacturing—or how to find the right manufacturing partner for your unique production needs? Then be sure to connect with Marshall today. You can also reach out for more information on our core competencies as a medical device CM. We look forward to hearing from you.