Digital Manufacturing

Protolabs survey shows innovation failing to address usability for ageing market

Updated on Thursday 12 January 2023, 8:11 AM

2 Minute Read

While there is a rapidly growing market in medical devices for an ageing population, research from Protolabs reveals that manufacturers are failing to address user experience to turn innovation into market gains.

Of the 210 senior executives questioned by FT company Longitude, more than half, 52%, agree that enhanced user interaction is key to successful innovations for an ageing population.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a disconnect during the innovation process with user experience not being a priority.  Instead, their top measurement was whether they completed the project within budget and on time.

The research reveals that the result is many companies struggling to turn innovation into market gains; with only 35% stating that they have used innovation in the last two years to seize an opportunity before their competitors.  And more worryingly only 34% are confident that they could make the user design of their products more intuitive.

Says Nicola Davies, Director of Marketing Programs and Operations at Protolabs, “While devices and the science behind them are evolving to make them lighter, ergonomic and smaller, their evolution can only continue if they are easy for the patient to use.  For older patients this can make the difference between a device that improves their quality of life and one that makes it more complicated.

“There is a real difference between the developers who are young and grew up with the technology and those having to use it.  I suspect that budgetary and time constraints means that there is not enough product development and testing.  Yet rapid prototyping means that you can match both successful development and time targets.”

The research also points to a cultural issue with senior leaders creating potential setbacks.  Nearly eight in ten of the survey’s respondents say their leaders are guilty of hesitating at crucial moments and 70% say they insist on convoluted processes and controls.

Continues Davies: “Clearly there is also a problem with decision making and a fear of taking risks that is holding development back.  The challenge for the industry is how to derisk the decisions so that designers and R&D can develop products that improve user interaction and win their companies more business.”

Read the full report here.


Protolabs is a proud member of the FactoryNOW initiative

Press Kit

To obtain a copy of our press kit, please message us using the adjacent contact form.


Thank you, we will be in contact shortly.

AMRC Sheffield
University of Wolves Racing
Mach Exhibition