How CNC machines support the medical industry

medical industry

The medical industry is known to demand impeccable cleaning and precision. For this reason, it’s not hard to guess why or how CNC machines are responsible for driving the entire industry. High-precision CNC milling machines are widely used to machine medical devices.

CNC medical technology – from implants to dentistry.

A wide range of products come directly from the hands of medical machining specialists. CNC machining is responsible for producing everything from simple tools and components of mobility devices to spinal fusion cages.

In medical machining, the production itself is not much different from the usual processes. Manufacturing a single part may involve the use of various CNC machines and operations, including cutting, grinding, etc. For details regarding CNC Machine parts, please visit: https://www.abdultraders.com/

For example, manufacturing a knee implant requires roughing, roughing the bottom of the tray, chamfer milling, undercutting, finishing the bottom of the tray, and deburring the parts for the final finish. Achieving a good surface finish is especially critical for internal implants, as any type of rough edge or surface may require implant replacement sooner rather than later.

Therefore, the bar is a bit higher for medical machine shops than others in the market.

Contemporary technologies such as 5-axis machining combined with CNC grinding can ensure short cycle times while maintaining a quality good enough to meet these market demands.

Cannulas

Cannulas are one of the most common items associated with medical centers. They come in all sizes and the material varies as well.

The shape seems quite simple – just a hollow tube with an acute-angled end that allows for easy insertion. But manufacturing cannulas require state-of-the-art CNC milling and electrical discharge machines (EDM). This combination allows for accuracy that ensures safety when inserting cannulas.

Equipment for dentistry

CAD/CAM dentistry (yes, that’s a real term) uses computer-aided design and manufacturing to provide precise implants for patients in need.

The most common products from this field are dental crowns, lays, veneers, bridges, etc. Manufacturing is usually a mix of subtractive and additive manufacturing – medical CNC machining and 3D printing.

Whereas the dental field used to be 100% dominated by manual labor, today people are usually able to create a 3D image and send it outside the dental lab. So engineers can take it from there with CAD modeling before sending the parts to production.

Therefore, when making dental veneers or dental crowns, extreme precision is required to avoid any kind of discomfort. CNC machining can easily handle this with a minimal margin of error.

Bone plates

Bone plates are thin metal implants that have a single purpose – to fix broken bones into position. Using screws, the metal strips connect the two or more sides of a broken bone to create a stable environment for the healing process. Bone plates are usually CNC-milled from titanium.

Prosthetic hip implants

Hip replacements are a very common surgery these days, as we have come a long way to offer such complex “replacements” that can provide a great result.

The reasons for hip replacements are usually due to worn-out joints, which in turn accelerate the wear process, even more, causing pain in the process.

Thus, titanium alloys, aluminum, stainless steel, and non-metallic materials are used in machining to create a fully functional replacement for the joint to relieve pain.

Materials for CNC medical machining

As seen in the last section, there are quite a few options when it comes to materials for the medical field. It simply depends on the specific application and the choice of grade must be accordingly.

Some of the most popular metals are:

Stainless Steel – Both AISI 304 and AISI 316 are common enough. 316/L proves especially welcome with its acid resistance. 304 is probably the most common stainless steel because it is suitable for machining, but treatment for hardening is not possible, which gives it some limitations.

Instead, 18-8 stainless steel is the right choice when hardening properties are required.

Titanium – Both grade 2 and 5 titanium are sufficiently common in the industry. Titanium offers an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, which is a key requirement for many applications in the medical world.

Aluminum – Although also used in prosthetics, aluminum has become the number one material ahead of stainless steel and plastics when it comes to hospital tools due to its lightweight and good thermal conductivity. The latter, for example, ensures faster drying of parts after disinfection.

Entering the medical machining market

Medical equipment costs a lot. The process of selling a machine can take several years. But once the contract is signed, the work keeps coming in.

And if you want to be the one to make sure all the components are made on time and pocket some money in the process, you need to consider several factors.

First, do you have the capabilities to do CNC machining on a really small scale? Many of the components are tiny, and to machine them properly, you need prior expertise.

Second, are you able to machine the materials previously mentioned? Yes, that includes titanium. Of course, the industry also uses many different plastics such as Delrin, PP, PTFE, etc. If you can process these, your offer becomes even more enticing. Being able to rely on one manufacturer to take care of the entire job is always convenient.

Are you willing to do custom work? Especially if those parts are really complex.

Can you cover all the requirements set by the FDA?

And finally, are you up to the task when it comes to making parts with such complexity? You need the right machinery, and good old 3-axis workbenches are not nearly good enough.

State-of-the-art machinery that includes 3-axis CNC milling is one side of the requirements. The other side is the knowledge of how to handle these machines.