12 August 2010

Rofin?s Market-Leading Stent Cutting System Uses a Femtosecond Laser

The new StarCut Tube Femto is one of the first systems to offer cold laser cutting for medical device manufacturing.

Manufacturing medical devices from tube stock typically relies on laser fusion cutting with pulse widths in the μs-scale. Even with an optimum setup this cutting process is not completely free from burrs and recast inside the tube, requiring post-processing by ultrasound polishing on stainless steel and CoCr. The shape memory alloy nitinol can, in certain instances, be prone to chemical and mechanical damage during post-processing. With femtosecond lasers however, the only post-processing required is simple ultrasonic cleaning. This improves post-processing efficiency significantly, in particular with such sensitive materials.

Bio-absorbable stents are at the heart of numerous research and development activities. But the use of bio-absorbable polymers such as polylactic acid and polyglycolic acid has suffered due to their low melting points. This makes them very difficult to machine with traditional cutting lasers and the resultant heat affected zone resulted in unacceptable cut quality. In contrast, femtosecond lasers already have achieved excellent results with vascular stents showing perfect high-precision edge quality.

Cold Cutting Removes Burr, Recast and Distortion
Femtosecond lasers process materials faster than energy can diffuse within the atomic lattice, therefore no heat is transferred to the surrounding material, which in turn eliminates any recast and burr. The StarCut Tube Femto integrates a completely innovative, compact laser source with field-proven high reliability and long-term stability - properties which are essential for industrial manufacturing, but until now have been hard to find in ultra-fast laser sources.

Optimized for Handling Sensitive Materials

The StarCut Tube Femto mechanics have been adapted to the specific requirements for handling thin-walled, mechanically fragile semi-finished products. The new system complements the already successful StarCut Tube series. The well-established StarCut18 and StarFiber laser remain the state-of-the-art choice for stainless steel and metallic alloy cutting. The first StarCut Femto systems are already installed and working at customer sites.

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