Originally Published MPMN March 2005
Welding Sleeve Production Services Offered
The production of welding sleeves is one of several contract manufacturing services now offered by Interface Associates Inc. (Laguna Niguel, CA; www.interfaceusa.com). Welding sleeves are small consumable items used to produce catheters. Their purpose is to contain small and fragile components and to provide compressive load during fuse-welding operations, such as attaching polymer balloons to catheter shafts.
The welding sleeves are precision-cut pieces of thin-wall, heat-shrink tubing, with an internal diameter closely matched to the size of the components being welded. To facilitate removal of the sleeve from the weld area, each has an axial slit that runs down the middle of the sleeve.
Producing welding sleeves manually, with the required degree of precision, is a very time-consuming and laborious task. Therefore, Interface has developed a robotic tube cutter and slitter system, Model RTC-100. The unit processes a wide range of tube sizes and produces many combinations of weld tube lengths and slit lengths. The complete operation is performed in a matter of a few seconds per sleeve. Interface Associates believes that this service, among others, provides its customers the flexibility to focus their efforts on more-important areas of operations.
And providing more contract services is one of the company’s major plans for the future. In fact, over the past year, it has seen a 156% increase in contract manufacturing. With this in mind, the company will undergo an expansion of its ISO 9001–certified facilities in April 2005.
“Every balloon is different,” says Josef Stupecky, the company’s president. “Start-up companies keep coming up with new ideas for applications and they need balloon development.”
The new 1900-sq-ft cleanroom and development lab will double existing manufacturing space. The company intends to focus its efforts on R&D for balloon manufacturing. It has added more engineers to its staff and has also started a department for materials R&D.
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