Case Study: Smith+Nephew X-Wing™, Partnering on Design

26 November 2021
S+N X Wing Concept Drawing


As many will be familiar, Smith+Nephew is one of the oldest and largest medical equipment manufacturers. Established in 1856, the company has since grown into an internationally renowned producer of medical and surgical products in areas like arthroscopy, endoscopy, advanced wound management, orthopaedic reconstruction, trauma and clinical therapy. Now boasting distribution to over 100 countries, the demand for Smith+Nephew products is such that the company leans on partners to help develop and deliver new items in each region.

In Australasia, one such partner is Enztec.


Smith+Nephew had identified a gap in their sports medicine portfolio. They saw that single tendon grafts could benefit from a specifically designed preparation system; one that allowed for the preparation and tensioning of the graft, ready for fixation with the appropriate Smith+Nephew implant.

Having worked closely together before, Smith+Nephew identified Enztec as the perfect partner. They knew that when speed to market mattered, Enztec’s agile approach could deliver. Enztec was soon commissioned to design the solution that would fill the current gap in the Smith+Nephew range.


The ultimate goal was a ligament tensioning solution that rounded out the Smith+Nephew portfolio, but what shape would it take?

Work began with design. Enztec collaborated closely with Smith+Nephew to develop key product requirements – what the new product would be capable of, the design constraints that would apply, and how it would differ from the currently available alternatives. All relevant factors having been considered, a unique product soon began to take shape.

In terms of verification and validation, extensive testing was carried out by Enztec to ensure the finest mechanisms and material couplings were selected for this high load tensioning application. Enztec was able to manage the clinical evaluation in New Zealand, relieving Smith+Nephew of this complex and laborious task.

Enztec created all technical documentation in-house, allowing Smith+Nephew to seamlessly adopt the new product into their system. A name was given to this unique piece of equipment – X-Wing™ – and Enztec even developed a technical guide on Smith+Nephew’s behalf, ensuring surgeons understood how to correctly use the surgical instrument.


Enztec’s experience came to the fore in the creation of X-Wing™, driving it forward at a speed and with an attention to detail that few other partners could match.

Since its official release, Enztec has managed the production of X-Wing™, manufacturing it to order. Forecasting from Smith+Nephew allows Enztec to be responsive in manufacturing and has helped to greatly reduce lead times.

X-Wing™ was initially deployed in Australasia, where it helped Smith+Nephew to differentiate itself from competitors and gain market share. The product soon became globally recognised and has since been released in a number of key international markets, with Enztec forging a smooth path by managing all regulatory requirements.

By partnering with Enztec to deliver X-Wing™, Smith+Nephew saved themselves time and complexity, while gaining market share. But the greatest gains are felt by surgeons and their patients, who are reaping the rewards of the more efficient and effective grafting enabled by X-Wing™.


“Collaboration is so important in orthopaedics and Enztec is the first company I go to for development. They bring our insights into the marketplace, allowing us to solve complex design challenges.” - S+N Global Marketing Manager

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