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Companies Introduce Medical Manufacturing Equipment, Products for Global Market at German Show

Originally Published MPMN May 2002

INDUSTRY NEWS

Companies Introduce Medical Manufacturing Equipment, Products for Global Market at German Show

Norbert Sparrow

One thing is clear when you arrive in Stuttgart, Germany: Mercedes-Benz rules the roost. The iconic hood ornament looms from the roof of a building across from the terminal: it's impossible to miss as you line up for a taxi, which, in all likelihood, will be a Mercedes. And no visit to this industrial town in Germany's Southwest would be complete without a tour of the Mercedes-Benz museum, one of the prime tourist attractions. But the automotive industry--Porsche also has a factory here--is not the region's only economic driver. The capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart is also a hub of European medical technology.

Germany is the largest manufacturer of medical equipment in Europe, and Baden-Württemberg is home to almost half of the country's medical device OEMs. More than 50% of the medical products consumed in Europe are made here, according to the GWZ-Baden-Württemberg Agency for International Cooperation. Thus it should come as no surprise that the first MEDTEC event to be held at the Stuttgart Messe March 5-7 exceeded expectations both in terms of the number of exhibitors and attendees. Organized by Canon Communications llc, which publishes MPMN, and modeled after the company's MD&M trade shows in the United States, MEDTEC 2002 featured several product introductions relevant to device manufacturers worldwide.

Doyen Medipharm Inc. (Barton, Cambs, UK; www.doyenmedipharm.com) displayed a fully integrated wound-care dressing fabrication and packaging line at its stand. The company showed dressings being fabricated on the PD120 machine, which were then transferred to the 4SS four-side-seal packaging unit. Fabrication speeds can attain 200 units per hour, and the servo-driven machines have a patented design that ensures control of all validated sealing parameters.

The firm also introduced several enhancements to its 4SS packaging machine that will minimize machine downtime and product waste, according to group chairman Alan Isaacs. Among the features cited by Isaacs are in-feed speed profiling to "prevent the dressings from bunching up" and electronic web tension control. The web-tensioning system reduces curling of the packaging and ensures that sealing characteristics remain identical regardless of reel size. A pressure adjustment system on the side seal rollers enables the operator to rapidly and precisely repeat settings during product changeover. The new features, which are standard on all 4SS machines, can also be fitted to existing machinery in the field.

Minimally Progressive

The KPL 5000 laser developed by Komlas GmbH is designed for microwelding and drilling applications in the medical device and electronics sectors.

A laser system designed for use in R&D and small-scale production was showcased by Berlin-based Komlas GmbH (www.komlas.de). The workstation integrates the KPL 5000 laser, a servomotor-driven x-y stage that achieves 5-µm resolution, and a stereomicroscope with through-the-lens miniature CCD video camera. The standard laser can be focused to a 100-µm spot; an advanced model allows the beam to be focused to a 50-µm area. The system is suited for welding and drilling miniature medical devices and electronic components.

French firm Arthesys (Gennevilliers, France; www.arthesys.com) has 15 years' experience developing and manufacturing catheters, noted Miroslav Secerov, director of marketing and sales. The company attended MEDTEC to demonstrate how it can adapt its PTCA catheters to suit the needs of OEMs, said Secerov. Balloon lengths and diameters as well as the positioning of radiopaque markers can be modified to meet specifications, and numerous options are available to match the products to a customer's existing range. Although it is currently focusing on Europe and parts of the world outside North America, Secerov hinted that Arthesys is eyeing the U.S. market with a PTCA catheter under development that does not infringe on current patents.

Stent and Deliver

As drug-eluting stents come to market and create further demand for the tiny scaffolds, suppliers of related services and equipment are redoubling efforts to get the attention of OEMs. Fortimedix (Berg en Terblijt, Netherlands; www.fortimedix.com) showcased its product development expertise and manufacturing equipment at MEDTEC. In addition to its ability to manage stent development from the design stage to the production of a finished CE-marked device, the company promoted its universal stent crimper. Incorporating patented automated crimping technology, the machine relies on a force- controlled process to maintain crimping until an equilibrium of forces has been reached. The company also builds a machine that reduces stent diameters prior to crimping and heat-set equipment for postcrimping operations.

The newest generation of stent-crimping equipment from Machine Solutions integrates several automation features.

Not to be outdone, Machine Solutions Inc. (Flagstaff, AZ; www.machinesolutions.org) launched its latest stent crimping unit at MEDTEC. The Series 1000 machine integrates advanced process monitoring features along with automation enhancements. It incorporates a PC-operated system, allowing users to create unique file structures for different size combinations that can be easily recalled. A load cell displays the force applied to the activation arms while using the mechanical stops. Other novel features include a vision assistance system to aid in precisely positioning the stent between catheter marker bands, an encoder for continuous monitoring of crimp diameters, and a laser micrometer that provides crimp profile measurements as the stent retracts.

Copyright ©2002 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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