31 March 2009

Rofin Laser Technology for Medical Device Manufacturing Exhibited at Medtec Europe-09

Rofin is the leading manufacturer of lasers and laser based solutions for industrial materials processing within the medical device manufacturing sector. Medtec-09, held recently in Stuttgart, is Europe’s premier exhibition and conference for medical device development and manufacturing. Rofin’s exhibits this year served to reinforce the company’s commitment to maintaining its market leading position, with new product developments in micro cutting, laser welding and laser marking on show.

Extraordinary process times for stent cutting
The latest version of StarCut Tube uses a new generation of fibre laser technology, specifically designed for tube cutting and processing applications. The combination of this new laser technology and up to 4 servo driven axes means the system can be used to create a diverse range of cutting geometries, including the ability to cut Off Axis. The ability to cut Off Axis has enabled new strut configurations and therefore new stent designs to be produced. Off Axis cutting also allows the system to replicate the parallel wall features produced by traditional mechanical milling and EDM processes. New and unusual cutting geometries are also possible, for example spiral cuts or interlinked structures can be produced in just one process operation. These techniques enable the production of flexible or steerable instruments such as those used in endoscopy.

This latest generation system can process tubes with diameters of less than 200 microns with kerf widths of less than 15 microns. The robust machine construction together with linear motor technology enables contour accuracy of +/-5µm and strut widths down to 10µm to be achieved. The system can also achieve extraordinary process times for stent cutting. The capability to manipulate the tube at speeds of up to 20 revolutions per second makes StarCut Tube up to four times faster, for certain applications, when compared to other alternative solutions currently on the market. Another development in this latest version of StarCut Tube is the capability to perform wet cutting processes.

The ultimate flexibility of the StarCut Tube is demonstrated by its capability to also engrave and perforate surfaces on medical implants, one example being the preparation of an implant for drug coating. Engraving and cutting operations are completed in one processing step, thus improving cycle times and reducing manufacturing costs.

With all of the main elements such as the laser source, motion stages, control system and tube loading mechanisms incorporated within a stand-alone system, this latest version of StarCut Tube provides a high speed, practical and ergonomic solution for Micro-Machining.

StarWeld Select ensures process validation for medical device welding
Reliable process validation is crucial for quality management in medical device production. The Select laser system with its CNC control system meets these requirements by ensuring highly repeatable processing and accuracy. Existing programs for CNC laser welding can be recalled using part numbers or by scanning a bar code. In addition all programmes, which contain the welding parameters for the application, are protected against unauthorized changes and modification. Features such as Intelligent Pulse Management™ guarantee excellent pulse stability, even with smallest pulse energies providing reproducible results without power fluctuation.

The integrated FTP server allows the saving and administration of all files on a central computer via an Ethernet connection or alternatively, both files and configurations can be saved and exchanged by USB. The Select, with its four high-precision axes and intuitive user interface is an ergonomic and unique welding concept. The system is can be used as a manual welding system, joystick controlled deposit welding system or high precision CNC welding system.

The multi-function joystick and large colour touch screen enable all parameters to be easily set by the user. Additional features include the micro welding option, which enables welding spot diameters smaller than 0.1 mm to be achieved as opposed to the more common 0.2 – 0.3 mm spot size. Rofin’s patented sweet spot resonator® provides consistently high weld quality, even in highly reflective materials, with high pulse-to-pulse stability over a large depth of focus. StarWeld Select with its unique welding concept and high performance capability offers economic and flexible processing of even the finest parts.

CombiLine Cube marking system – high flexibility in integration

The CombiLine Cube is the ideal platform for the integration of the comprehensive range of laser sources such as solid-state, fibre or diode lasers which are available from Rofin-Baasel. Combine this range of laser sources with the array of focussing optics and axes which are available, and you have the capability to individually configure the CombiLine Cubefor a multitude of marking applications.

The flexible configuration of the CombiLine Cube also provides a number of options in the way in which the system can be used. By adding a galvo scanning head and servo positioning axes, the system can be used to process large parts, or large trays of smaller parts, quickly and precisely. The system also incorporates automatic rise and fall doors, on three sides if required, which enable the system to be automatically loaded and unloaded by a robot as part of an integrated production facility. Equally the system can be used as a stand-alone unit which can be easily loaded and unloaded manually via the automatic doors.

The CombiLine Cube laser marking system provides the benefit of non-contact, abrasion-resistant, permanent marking onto many different types of material with predictable and consistent results. The laser can be used to generate alpha-numeric content, vector or rastered graphics, grey-scale, bar codes or data matrix codes. Alternatively the CombiLine Cube can be integrated with a laser from Rofin’s StarPulse range and the system can be used for welding applications.

Laser structuring surfaces in medical device production
Laser structuring uses short high energy pulses to ablate material surfaces. This high precision process can be used to generate micro structures smaller than 15µm as well as removing entire surfaces layer by layer. Selective material removal is useful in the production of polymer components and implants. This type of surface structuring can make an implant more biologically acceptable to the body. Other applications of laser structuring include using the process to generate a rough surface on the rear of dental brace brackets. The laser structured surface enhances adhesive bonding characteristics and strength when the bracket is adhered to the tooth.

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