Freudenberg Medical: Taking tube extrusion monitoring to a new level
Freudenberg Medical has developed technology that the company says can help ensure uniform geometries of its silicone tubing. The Vigeo platform uses tomographic sensors to deliver a cross-section view of the product, including the tube’s inner geometry, which was not possible using traditional laser sensor-based inline measurement systems. The industry standard for laser sensor inline systems requires inline measurement of the outer geometry, but this does not provide any information on the inner geometry of the tube (ID or multi-lumen). Quality checks for the inner geometries have traditionally been made in an off-line process by manual cuts at discrete cross sections of a tube.
Vigeo’s sensors obtain measurement values that are displayed, documented and calculated by an algorithm, stitching together the different pictures provided by each sensor into one cross-section view. That view provides an accurate and continuous read of inner and outer geometries and tubing wall thickness during a complete production run, according to Freudenberg.
Continuous data monitoring and consistent measurement offer customers quality assurance, leading to leaner and more efficient production with less waste, the company said. Critical medical devices such as pacemaker leads or silicone tubing for pumps may benefit the most from this level of control and documentation of every dimension throughout the entire production run and not only on a sample basis.
Having full documentation of measurement data may reduce or even eliminate customers’ incoming inspection routines, and reduce their validation efforts significantly, speeding time to market, Freudenberg said. The company has begun using Vigeo in its Kaiserslautern, Germany facility, with plans to introduce it into one of its U.S. plants.
“The company started using it two to three months ago, said Kai Opdenwinkel, general manager of the Kaiserslautern plant, told MDO. “We’re quite satisfied with what we see right now.”
There’s no reliable data yet on how much waste the technology allows Freudenberg to save. “For now I think the bigger benefit is to tell the customer, ‘Ok, we monitor every single inch we extrude of your tube,’” Opdenwinkel said.