During prototyping and early design stages, R&D engineers frequently need small quantities of several different components, and the sooner they can get them, the faster they can prove out their designs—or fail and move on.
Kathryn Misra had witnessed this need as she worked with such engineers on the medical device supply side, so she and a few former colleagues set out to find a way to offer components support. Together they formed the online marketplace Chamfr, which currently offers thousands of in-stock components, ranging from balloons to catheters to sutures, from more than 20 suppliers. For instance, Forecreu, Lumenous, and Applied Plastics have all recently announced that they will offer their components on Chamfr.com for shipping within 24 hours.
Misra said that Chamfr’s entire mission was founded with the goal of giving R&D engineers an edge to innovate faster. “The initial tool that we launched to enable this was an Amazon-like marketplace, providing quicker access to the components engineers need in the early prototyping and design phases of medical device development,” she said. These R&D engineers and supply chain professionals “are working on new, innovative projects and need to source medical-grade components quickly so that they can iterate on their designs quickly and focus on advancing the final design through the product development process.”
Misra believes the approach could help expedite design, prototyping, and development processes by allowing engineers to make informed design decisions earlier in the project life cycle. “The conventional cycle requires design engineers and supply chain professionals to get custom quotes for these components, often with a 4-6 week, or in many cases, an even longer lead time. When you add up all the components in a device with all the potential design iterations, it really starts to impact the overall cost and time that it takes to get medical devices to market. With Chamfr.com, buyers can access ~1500 components from multiple vendors all in-stock and ready to ship. That means they can get parts in their hands faster, that may not be the perfect size or fit but, that can enable them to make a more informed decision about their custom component earlier in the project life cycle, reducing unnecessary iterations and speeding time to market.”
She said that Chamfr has been helping engineers accelerate their projects as they work at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The biggest change during the last few months is how COVID-19 really accelerated the digitalization of everything,” she said. “Being able to access components at the point of need rather than during business hours has been really important. People need to work remotely at their own pace.”
The Chamfr team also saw the need to help engineers access custom components, so the company launched a new RFQ tool allowing professionals to request a custom quote from any partner that chooses to participate. “Engineers are able to upload their drawings, and we will match them with sellers who will then provide a quote for custom components and place it in a cart for engineers to purchase online. This enables us to directly connect that customer with the ideal supplier for that opportunity.
“Additionally, based on the request of both buyers and sellers for Chamfr to further enable insights and connections up-front in the design and development process, we recently launched a service partner page on our website that allows engineers quick access to other manufacturing and assembly supply chain partners that may not have components in their offering but have the ability to help on the service side.”