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Complete and Automated Manufacturing —

Laser Micro Machining

Systems with up to Eight Axes

Eduard Fassbind, swisstec micromachining ag

Manufacturing of medical products follows the trend of miniaturisation. At the same time it

requires a higher precision and a growing degree of complexity. This results in a challenge for the process design as well as the handling of the components along various processing steps. The

solution is the complete processing of a part in one station and one fixture.

For processing of medical products made out of tubes or thin sheets laser micro machining already is the accepted standard. Machines with three or more NC controlled axes, handling units and integrated systems for quality monitoring are available in different sizes, accuracy classes and levels of automation. The past development trends were mainly orientated towards a higher compactness of the systems. Not less relevant is the integration of new and innovative laser sources. One main aspect is to increase the variety of materials that can be processed. Ultra-short-pulse lasers, as they are applied by swisstec in many stent cutting systems, contribute an important part to this development.

Customers want solutions The main requirements relate to the advancing miniaturisation, the increasing accuracy and complexity as well as the different batch sizes, beginning at a batch size of 1. This conflict of interest in combination with low costs of investment leads many companies to build a serial manufacturing process with highly specialised

<< Figure 2: Complete machining of medical devices with the combination of various manufacturing steps like: laser welding, laser cuting, forming, grinding. >>

systems and a low degree of automation. Frequently these are specialised machines fulfilling only a single process and therefore have very little flexibility. In more and more cases this concept reaches its limits. Set-up times increase exponentially. Manual handling makes any system vulnerable to positioning errors and damages of the parts. In addition, each system requires an operator. The outcome is a high price per piece, due to the extensive labour costs and the deviations in the processes.

Higher accuracy through complete machining In traditional manufacturing techniques high accuracy is achieved by the combination of various tools and processing steps into one manufacturing system. The most important factor is to reduce the handling procedures down to just one fixture. This approach also needs to be applied to manufacturing with lasers as a tool. Increasing demands in accuracy ask for the adoption of complete machining.

36 | commercial micro manufacturing international Vol 7 No.3

<< Figure 1: Process integration for laser micro machining of medical instruments: laser-cuting of defined geometries and grinding of functional surfaces. >>

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