In 2017, Dr. Rich Hirschinger, a board-certified orofacial pain specialist, sought out a product development consultant to help turn his concept for a novel jaw stretching device into reality. Through his practice, Dr. Hirschinger had discovered many patients with complaints about their temporomandibular joint (TMJ) actually experienced pain in their jaw muscles. This type of pain is treated with regular passive stretching. He envisioned a simple, affordable device for patients to treat their jaw pain with accurate, progressive jaw stretches.
Dr. Hirschinger had a CAD file and a 3D-printed model of the rough design for the “gentle jaw.” Although he felt confident in his initial design approach, he knew he needed someone with manufacturing expertise to create a product that could be produced in mass quantities to reach a wide audience.
Eric first re-engineered the CAD file, using his 35+ years’ experience designing plastic parts for manufacturing to optimize its strength and refine its technical details for effective production molding. He verified that his client’s proposed material would work for the intended application and brought in a consultant to ensure the product complied with applicable FDA requirements.
Eric then reviewed the design with potential injection molders for their input on the manufacturing-friendliness of the design and had multiple 3D-printed models made to confirm the design met its objectives before the tooling was built. He evaluated manufacturers on their experience with similar materials, the machinery to accommodate the needed size of parts and mold, and their ability to maintain a clean manufacturing environment. Eric also shepherded the product into manufacturing, soliciting bids under NDAs, arranging a site visit with the preferred molder, and managing the debug process after the injection molding tooling was built.
Throughout the process Eric looked out for his client’s return on investment. His product design adjustments improved strength with a minimal addition of material and cost. Eric also helped design and engineer the packaging, working with the supplier to refine the tray design to be easier for the end customer to use and efficient for stacking and shipping to the final assembly packager.
The gentle jaw product is now patented and widely available for purchase. After successfully bringing it to market, Dr. Hirschinger commented, “I recommend that entrepreneurs who want to develop and commercialize new products take advantage of Eric’s 35+ years of product innovation, manufacturing, and commercialization experience.” More information is available at gentlejaw.com.