Standard, custom, or engineered flex arm part: How we help you decide

A good flex arm should have complimentary covering

Flex arms are just a part of what we do here at Moffatt Products. From end fittings to color matching, it’s our goal to provide seamless integration with your medical device. Sometimes that means getting creative with a solution. For the purposes of this article, let’s break down our internal definitions of off-the-shelf, custom, and engineered parts so that we’re all on the same page. Then we’ll get into how we help you decide what’s best for your medical device. 

Standard parts

This is the most straightforward. These are modular pieces that can work in most projects. We have them because we’ve made them for other customers or have developed them in-house for our projects. Standard doesn’t mean unmodified, we frequently will figure out new thread types or make other adjustments. 

Custom parts

Typically custom parts combine standard components, but are combined in a way that hasn’t been done before. This option means that we’ll have to validate and test it to see if it will work. This can also include products that are mostly standardized but have one new component to them. Occasionally a custom part will require us to utilize a machine shop to develop the new part

Engineered parts

This falls in the “everything else” category. If we need to engineer a solution, it falls under “engineered”. These solutions often call for greater investment for the fact that it takes time to develop concepts, produce new prototypes, and test or validate the final solution. But some of our best-performing products and long-term partnerships have come from this engineering design effort. 

We’re not here to sell you the most expensive part. We’re here to help you find the best solution. 

So how do we decide? Well, we’ve spoken before about our Design Checklist. Let’s go through a couple of the key questions that we’ll ask you to help figure out what you need.

What does the flex arm in your device need to do?

Is this a set-it-and-forget-it situation, where the arm will only be positioned a few times but really needs to hold its position? Will it be moved frequently? What about the length requirements? 

What are the functions you’ll need your flex arm device to do?

How you answer this question can change our mounting solution. For example, if you need it to support a camera or lighting, you won’t want to have any wobble or shake. If it’s a detector though, that may not be the most important quality, you may just need it to be able to fit and bend through tight spaces.

What is the ease and experience of the end user?

How easy is your product to use? How about the end-user? Will they be educated on the product? We want specifics. Even when you say, people in the “medical field” will use this device, do you mean surgeons, nurses? Some folks won’t mind a little spring back or movement, while other end users will need it to be perfect every time. 

No matter which option you need, prototyping should be rapid

We know how important prototyping is to your design process. That’s why regardless of the final design type, we’ll try to get physical parts to you to show the process. We may use standard components to give you a ballpark at first, just so we can keep a fast turnaround. We believe that the best first step for anyone working with our project is to prototype. You can test and evaluate it. We can typically send out standard parts (in a new configuration) in days. 

The simplest device for us is obviously a one-fitting flex arm – which is a lot of times what our clients need. We can also provide.

  • Color matching
  • Powder coating
  • Quotes for minimum order quantities
  • Custom machining

That said, we have a warehouse full of flex arm, end fitting, and other component options that we’ve accumulated over decades of applications. It makes it easy for us to deliver these prototypes quickly, and will most likely be a full representation of what your product will be. 

If you’re thinking about using a flex arm for your next medical device, contact us. We’re among the best at creating these mounting solutions because of our decades of experience. We’re not just flex arm folks, we want to be your engineering partner.