Micro Machining For Customized Medical Devices
The individual components in computer chips shrink in size year after year. You could fit 200,000 modern transistors in the length of the first transistor from 1947. Mechanical parts continue to shrink right along with their electronic counterparts. Gears, switches, pumps, and countless other devices are routinely produced today on scales almost too small to see thanks to micromachining.
Micromachining is a family of technologies that enable MacFab to create complex pieces at scales that were unimaginable only a few years ago. These parts are revolutionizing the medical field and more.
Different methods of micromachining bring different capabilities to bear, and the specifics of your designs dictate which mode is best suited to your needs.
Electrical Discharge Machining
EDM isn’t just used for micromachining; it can produce incredibly fine machining results on parts that are several inches thick. But EDM scales beautifully to parts that are only a few ten-thousandths of an inch long. It also excels at surface finishing, where it is often employed in association with medical CNC machining. Medical devices often require surface finishes that are smooth down to the micron level, and EDM is the answer to those situations. EDM also has the added benefit of not imparting physical or heat stress on the material during manufacturing. This aids in its ability to faithfully produce the most precise components.
CNC Swiss Turning
Swiss Turning likewise runs the gamut from large to tiny manufacturing. Our five-axis machines are at the cutting edge in medical CNC machining. Swiss turning can produce large pieces to be medically implanted, as well as nearly microscopic components required for miniaturized implantable or wearable medical devices.
Five-Axis Micro Milling
MacFab’s 5-axis CNC mills are also capable of producing micro-machined parts. In some ways, producing the tiniest parts is easier than producing larger pieces. The cutting tools can stay very close to the material, avoiding the stress of over-extended tools which can cause milling errors at larger scales. It has much more precise control when cutting a hole 3 millimetres deep than one several inches deep. No other technology can handle certain functions like hole tapping on micro components.
One of the most versatile micromachining technologies, laser cutting can yield incredible levels of detail. While it can obviously cut and shape metal, its strength is its resolution. Lasers can be used to cut features other technology can’t. It also excels at surface finishing. While EDM is perfect for producing a surface that is flat and even, laser micromachining can etch that surface to provide needed medical or mechanical properties
As a side note, if you need a part which is stackable, like a plate or metal gasket, once they’re cut from the raw material, those parts can often be stacked very carefully and then further processed in bulk with any of the above technologies. You can realize a lot of cost savings that way.
“Implantable medical devices” once meant pacemakers. Those have since been joined by systems to monitor and dispense drugs like insulin, devices to relieve chronic pain with electricity, units to tamp down seizures, and more. Wearable tech tracks our blood pressure, and temperature, and reminds us to get our steps in every day. These devices all rely on micromachining and medical CNC machining. The era of implantable and wearable medical devices is just beginning to take off as we gain the ability to miniaturize more and make computer intelligence smaller and smaller.