There are times when using an off-the-shelf item may not be the best way to go, and making a home-brewed version is the better solution.
On a cardiac device project I worked on, a stent-like device was needed. The only way we knew of to get stents was to buy a stent-and-delivery catheter at retail. This gave us a stent that was not quite what we wanted and was very expensive (about $2000 each at that time). To save money, we took these precious devices and (carefully) cut them in half. Now they were only $1000 each. There had to be a better and more cost-effective solution.
The stent we needed did not have to be anything special. We were pushing it into a lumen in an open procedure in bench and preclinical tests; they did not need the flexibility and trackability of a commercially available stent.
We searched and found some companies that make stents and stent prototypes. We contacted one of these companies and found out the process of making a stent is really not that exotic. Stents are made by laser-cutting tubing, and there are vendors that specialize in this work. It was a relatively simple matter of deciding what open diameter we wanted and finding a thin-wall hypodermic tube of that diameter, which was an off-the-shelf item at a hypotube supplier. The vendor had a pattern for a
generic stent and cut a number of stents for us for a nominal lot charge. These stents were then collapsed down to their deployment size and used successfully in preclinical studies. The total cost per home-brewed stent was about $40 each.
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