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How to Develop a Robust Budget for a Medical Cart

Posted by Andrew Harbath on July 31, 2019

There are many factors to consider when exploring what a custom medical cart will cost to design and manufacture. The main expenses come from initial project fees, materials, tooling and aesthetics/functionality considerations. In this blog, we’ll discuss how you can efficiently budget for these factors.

Project Fees

There are many options to consider when assembling a budget for the development of a medical cart. A helpful suggestion is to work with a manufacturer with an in-house industrial design staff like the one here at HUI. You can choose to use a third-party industrial designer, but an in-house team will know how to best design your cart for efficient manufacturing. This is extremely helpful when it comes to keeping your costs within your budget. If you choose to use a third-party industrial designer, be cautious that the designer is not the sole decision maker and ensure that the design staff is adhering to the budget. Industrial designers tend to make decisions on design to make the best-looking product, but do not always keep manufacturing expenses in mind. When efficient manufacturing and overall cost are not a focus, you can get a very good-looking cart but it will often be hard to manufacture or it will not be cost-effective.

Each custom medical carts start with a concept. There are multiple fees associated with creating these concepts. This stage in the process will typically yield three to five designs that will factor in your needs based on your budget. From there your concept will move to the engineering team. This is where the design engineer will develop the concept within Solid Works, a best in class 3-D modeling tool. The complexity of the design will determine how much this stage will cost. After engineering, your cart will move to the prototyping stage. Custom medical cart prototypes come with their own set of fees. You also have to factor in any tooling cost associated with the prototype. It’s important to be aware of these initial costs so you can budget for them ahead of

Materials to Consider

There are many material options to choose from when building a custom medical cart, and each option has its benefits depending on your project needs.

Sheet Metal

One material option is sheet metal. Selecting sheet metal helps to minimize costs in low-run, manufacturing since sheet metal does not generally require tooling costs.


Another low-run option is thermoform plastic molds. Both sheet metal and thermoform options have shorter lead times. Thermoform tooling is less expensive than injection molding, sometimes as much as 1/25 of the cost.

Injection Molding and Die-cast

If your medical cart is going to run at a high volume , +1,000/year, then think about manufacturing processes like die cast or injection molding. HUI has a great collection of suppliers that we partner with to provide processes like injection molding, die-cast, cast aluminum, etc. Injection and die-cast molds are a good option if you are looking at a high-run manufacturing process. However, if you plan to builder fewer than 500 carts per year, the cost of production will typically not be recouped with sales due to the high start-up costs needed to create the molds. 

Aesthetics vs Functionality

When it comes to the appearance and functionality of a medical cart, look for a balance between the two. Being in a medical environment, the cart needs to look professional and meet medical guidelines. Medical carts typically have expensive medical equipment attached to them, so having a functional cart to transport the equipment is essential. Inadequate design, or even improper casters, can turn simplicity into a burden. It’s important to factor in additional costs that come along with making your cart more aesthetically and functionally efficient for all users.


We covered costs that you should expect when budgeting for a custom medical cart and ways you can save money on those costs. Your budget should factor in initial project fees, materials, and aesthetic/functionality considerations. A custom medical cart is a great investment, and if you budget for it properly you’ll be very pleased with the final product.


There are many things to consider when exploring what a custom medical cart will cost to design and manufacture. HUI has a lot of experience designing custom medical carts to a budget.  If you’d like more information, or need help with your medical cart solution, contact us today. 



Topics: Medical Cart Development, Industry Insights, Medical Cart Design

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