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extraordinary characteristics and cuts and bores all materials, including very hard ones, and is intended to become a self-learning control system – Know-How, which in turn has some influence on the research and development of Microwaterjet.

The high level of development of Microwaterjet can be traced back to a special corporate philosophy. The company has always been directly involved at the forefront in developing new technologies. The founder and chairman of the company management, Walter Maurer, sees an essential cycle through which the company first rose to become one of the leading high-tech ventures: the company’s R&D department always adopted customer requests that were considered to be utopian 10 years ago, and as a result, developed a thinner and thinner cutting jet

The result of this corporate philosophy and the high-quality R&D of Microwaterjet is a ground-breaking technology, which through its microscopic jet widths in the low micrometre range offers new opportunities to the material-sensitive field of medical technology. As has been proven, the further development of this already highly precise procedure is not simply a gimmick by people who like to do finicky things, but can truly accelerate advances needed in medical technology. The world of implants is currently at a crossroad, and must continue to evolve with respect to materials. This also depends primarily on the increase in rejection of certain

<< Figure 3: Implantable X-ray reflectors. >>

one step at a time. The company also built prototypes of waterjet cutters and expanded its role as a specialist for micro waterjets to also include being a machine developer. Today, the in-house development of the Type F4 sets worldwide standards in micro waterjet cutting. Part of the know-how from the production of med-tech components therefore had some influence on the development of machines. Waterjet cutters throughout the world currently profit from this. The Waterjet Robotics director describes this cycle as a win-win principle: “Micro waterjet cutting is a very complex procedure. We not only sell machines to other waterjet cutters, we also develop procedures together with them, which they can then use successfully for actual customer orders, such as in the med-tech field. We also offer them long-term support and assist them in their growth strategy.”

implants that are foreign to the body. With reference to the future of micro waterjet cutting, it is a matter of not only cutting smaller and more precisely, but also cutting innovative materials; materials that do not allow for any structural transformations or thermal deformations. Development, according to Matthias Straubhaar, will go even further, to some extent into utopian territories: “There are temporary implants such as screws for fixing bones, which to this day had to be removed by operation. Materials that dissolve inside the body are currently being developed.” This includes for instance the biocompatible magnesium alloy developed by the Austrian Institute of Technology, which dissolves in the body and makes post-operative intervention superfluous. Accordingly, the challenge for the waterjet cutting specialists of Microwaterjet AG is therefore: using water to cut and process water soluble materials with high precision and with a fineness not yet known throughout the world. Whether this remains a utopia for the Swiss specialists — only the future will tell.

38 | commercial micro manufacturing international Vol 7 No.2

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