Sembler puts advanced equipment, facilities within reach
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Students and university faculty who found startups to develop new medical devices often find costs and access to facilities to test and prototype the technologies are prohibitive once they leave academia. Further, few manufacturers will build devices in small batches for development, testing and further iteration.
Draper is working with startups to address these needs through its Sembler initiative, by providing access to its facilities as well as offering up its more than 80 years of multidisciplinary engineering and development expertise. On the Sembler website, startups can run a free manufacturability analysis of their designs and subsequently purchase a small batch of prototypes at an affordable cost. Users can now also acquire the mold for their device, enabling them to build additional devices without buying expensive clean room equipment.
According to Nathan Wiedenman, Sembler program manager, “Once startups have the mold, they can make their prototypes on any lab bench. This removes a major obstacle in getting to market quickly.”
Sembler customers include SQZ Biotech, which was founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professors Klavs Jensen and Robert Langer, as well as MIT graduate student Armon Sharei. SQZ spun out of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research in 2013, and used Sembler to build an initial run of prototypes for research and development. SQZ is continuing to work with Draper on additional runs of devices with materials typically used in operational hardware.
“Sembler and Draper have been invaluable in helping us refine our designs and getting them made,” said Sharei, SQZ CEO. “We’ve had a great partnership with Draper to fabricate several rounds of improved designs that build on the prototypes that Sembler built for us.”
Entrepreneurs can receive prototypes within a few weeks after signing up on the Sembler website, which features an interface that has been streamlined since launch last fall. New Sembler users receive a discount if referred by existing customers – who also receive a discount on their next set of devices. Each user’s intellectual property is protected throughout the process.
Draper continues to develop its expertise in designing, characterizing and processing materials at the macro-, micro- and nanoscales. Understanding the physical properties and behaviors of materials at these various scales is vital to exploit them successfully in designing components or systems. This enables the development and integration of biomaterials, 3D printing and additive manufacturing, wafer fabrication, chemical and electrochemical materials and structural materials for application to system-level solutions required of government and commercial sponsors.
Draper’s Biomedical Solutions capability centers on the application of microsystems, miniaturized electronics, computational modeling, algorithm development and image and data analytics applied to a range of challenges in healthcare and related fields. Draper fills that critical engineering niche that is required to take research or critical requirements and prototype or manufacture realizable solutions. Some specific examples are MEMS, microfluidics and nanostructuring applied to the development of wearable and implantable medical devices, organ-assist devices and drug-delivery systems. Novel neural interfaces for prosthetics and for treatment of neurological conditions are being realized through a combination of integrated miniaturized electronics and microfabrication technologies.