Medtech companies can improve output quality and repeatability using the single-pass operation offered by LaserSwiss manufacturing.
Joe Lovotti and Damian Zyjeski, OKAY Industries
LaserSwiss combines the precision of Swiss turning with a fully integrated laser-cutting system to deliver efficiency and lower costs. While the low cycle times of laser processing provide accuracy and high-yield production, machining processes are sometimes required, due to part design or to improve manufacturability.
For some manufacturers, this may mean moving a laser-cut part onto a new piece of equipment, increasing part handling, quality processes and production time. Machining processes typically have higher cycle times, which only increase with movement from machine to machine. Combining two proven manufacturing methods into a single-pass operation means output, quality and repeatability can be improved.
Here are some tips on how OEMs can use LaserSwiss manufacturing processes to solve complex engineering challenges.
Consider LaserSwiss before disregarding a design
LaserSwiss can efficiently produce components that require intricacy, tight geometries, fine or angular cuts or a high degree of bendability. For example, this method can be used to manufacture tubes with diameters from 2.0 mm (.080 in.) to 12.7 mm (½ in.), wall thicknesses down to .05 mm (.002”) and laser-cut widths as small as 0.05 mm.
LaserSwiss combines fully integrated laser cutting with machining operations that include turning, milling, tapping, drilling, thread whirling, grooving, sawing and chamfering. While some parts can be produced using solid stock, most components are tubular, often designed as single-use medical instruments or robotic surgical instruments.
LaserSwiss is particularly well-suited to manufacturing a wide range of medical device components. The level of feature complexity that LaserSwiss provides has revolutionized the manufacturing process, giving greater flexibility for engineers to design and manufacture parts that were not practical before.
Optimize processes for cost efficiency
Laser cutting is not only highly accurate, it’s fast. In some operations, machining a part may take up to eight seconds, compared to one second for laser. However, machining operations are often necessary in part production.
The combination of laser cutting and machining capabilities means the optimal production process can be used to make a component quickly, without moving from machine-to-machine. Integrated quality checks can be performed on the LaserSwiss, increasing efficiency without compromising the integrity, delicacy or the precision required for surgical and medical components.
An examination of the ratio of laser cuts versus machining passes is an important part of the analysis. If there is a need for 50 laser cuts and only one machined cut, LaserSwiss might not be cost-effective. Finding the optimal fit of machining and laser features that makes a part right for LaserSwiss typically requires analysis by your manufacturing partner’s engineering team.
Partner with LaserSwiss engineers to identify design possibilities
The manufacturing process that a customer has in mind might be simplified. Having a collaborative engineering team with expertise in advanced laser processing, machining and other manufacturing operations helps customers identify which operations or design modifications can lower costs and increase manufacturability.
Design and functionality options such as assembly tabs on a device or ramp features for component removal may be efficiently produced while the part itself is manufactured. It’s also possible with LaserSwiss and the help of a skilled engineering team to simplify an assembly or combine two parts into one, saving both time and money. LaserSwiss engineers may be able to identify process and cost-saving options that OEMs might not have considered.
Look for a manufacturing partner with dedicated prototyping
Having a team of experts who can develop a laser process or machining process that can produce complex patterning, bendable components or intricate design using quick-turn prototyping can be a crucial step before production. Combining separately developed laser and machining processes on the LaserSwiss can make prototyping more efficient. Testing out design and manufacturability before production can streamline operations, control costs and optimize the performance of medical components.
Joe Lovotti is director of laser technology at OKAY Industries. Working in the medical device and implant industry since 1980, he helped pioneer the industrial use of lasers and worked as a consultant in the development of LaserSwiss technology.
Damian Zyjeski is CNC product development manager at OKAY Industries and brings 20 years of engineering and management experience to his role.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are the authors’ only and do not necessarily reflect those of Medical Design and Outsourcing or its employees.