Medical industry technologies are evolving to serve more surgical and patient needs. People are living longer, with higher expectations for staying active as they age. Surgeons want better devices, instruments, and tools to help them achieve these goals—which in most cases requires state-of-the-art manufacturing and tight-tolerance machining. Machining continues to advance to meet the challenges of making smaller and more complex devices, sometimes from newer, harder-to-machine materials. Computer numeric control (CNC) machines can integrate other technologies to produce complex shapes and features, quickly and efficiently, with tolerances of only a few microns. These advanced capabilities are often software-driven, enabling the use of sensor and other Internet of Things technologies to maximize efficiency and performance.
“For example, information from various sensors can be integrated and analyzed, enhancing computer-aided manufacturing simulation and offline G-code verification,” said Dave Davie, production manager at the Dayton, Ohio, facility for Lincotek Medical, an Italy-based contract manufacturer for the orthopedic, trauma, spine, and dental markets.
Even with additive manufacturing (AM) looming constantly in the wings, the demand for CNC subtractive machining remains robust in the medical device industry. This is largely due to a willingness to embrace process improvement in all areas and push current manufacturing systems (sometimes to the limits) for the quickest and most cost-effective process. OEMs and their contract manufacturers (CMs) are always looking for ways to improve machining and tooling, especially to reduce cycle times and get products to market faster. As OEMs continue to apply price pressures on their manufacturing partners for increasingly complex devices, CMs are forced to be more innovative with their equipment and their approaches to process improvement.