Application-Specific Development Process Maximizes Battery Performance

Originally Published MPMN January/February 2003

INDUSTRY NEWS

Application-Specific Development Process Maximizes Battery Performance

Zachary Turke

Micro Power Inc. matches a battery with a device using the power source's unique drain and temperature profiles.

Developing custom battery systems for performance-critical applications, Micro Power Electronics Inc. (Hillsboro, OR; www.micro-power.com) uses an application-specific development process to optimize performance. "Battery pack development has evolved from a simple assembly task into a complex systems process," says CEO Greg Love. "In the past, battery packs were simple devices, with one or two cells, a few wires, and a simple fuse, but this is no longer the case. Today's medical devices require more complex solutions, and thus a higher level of battery expertise and sophisticated equipment is needed to maximize battery performance," he says.

Micro Power meets these changing needs using a development process that matches a battery with a device using the power source's unique drain and temperature profiles. "OEMs will simply choose a battery based on its specifications, but these specifications are based on a single common operation point," says Love. "Most devices do not operate on this point, and when you move away from it, each battery performs differently." Micro Power's development process takes this variance into account, using a complex emulation to match a battery with a device. According to Love, this process can increase a battery system's capacity by 10 to 20%.

The new generation of portable devices currently finding use within the medical community stands to benefit the most from this increased capacity. "Portable devices are playing an increasingly more central role in our healthcare systems, making run time, performance, durability, and reliability of battery systems critically more important and leaving absolutely no room for unpleasant surprises, problems, and failures to occur during use," Love says. Increased battery system capacity would minimize these problems and enable the devices to incorporate faster processors, enhanced color displays, wireless networking, and voice capacity.

FDA registered and ISO 9001 certified, Micro Power can supply battery systems for most Class II devices. The company does roughly one-half of its business with medical device firms and offers multiple cell chemistries, fuel-gauging technologies, and smart battery options. It has supplied power units for defibrillators, blood analyzers, patient-monitoring equipment, infusion and heart pumps, data-collection terminals, ultrasound machines, and test and measurement instruments. 

Copyright ©2003 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Electromechanical Design Firm Opens Manufacturing Facility

Originally Published MPMN January/February 2003

INDUSTRY NEWS

Electromechanical Design Firm Opens Manufacturing Facility

Zachary Turke


Aubrey Group Inc. can now produce this patient monitor 
and other products at its new manufacturing facility.

Specializing in the development of complex electromechanical devices, engineering firm Aubrey Group Inc. (Irvine, CA; www.aubrygroup.com) has branched into manufacturing by opening its first production facility to service the medical industry. "Our core business will always be medical product design," says president Vytas Pazemenas. "But now, we offer our clients product-focused contract manufacturing as an alternative to the time-consuming manufacturer selection process."

Aubrey Group plans to use the 14,000-sq-ft facility to produce devices as varied as those it designs. Past development projects for the company include ventricular-assist device controllers, blood cardioplegia systems, cardiac ablation devices, centrifugal blood pumps, patient monitors, telemedicine systems, chemistry analyzers, and ophthalmic surgery controllers. 


Copyright ©2003 Medical Product Manufacturing News

The Right Connections Put a Thermal Cautery DeviceBack on the Winning Track

Originally Published MPMN January/February 2003

PROFILE

The Right Connections Put a Thermal Cautery Device Back on the Winning Track

A supplier of high-tech ergonomic connectors played a key role in reviving the fortunes of a TCU facing extinction

Lemo's easy to connect and disconnect push-pull connectors are available
in more than 55,000 off-the-shelf versions.

It's often said that you're only as good as your supplier. John Bottjer, president and owner of Geiger Medical Technologies (Monarch Beach, CA), found out just how much wisdom there is in that statement. His company's Thermal Cautery Unit (TCU) had not been updated in more than 40 years, and its age was becoming a handicap in the marketplace. A redesign "was a matter of survival for Geiger," says Bottjer. "The unit had stable sales with little growth potential," he says, adding that prospects for its long-term survival were grim. 

The TCU is used by physicians to stop patient bleeding and to destroy lesions by applying high levels of heat through a wire. It sounds simple enough, but Geiger's existing device had a number of inherent problems. One challenge that Bottjer faced was finding a supplier of connectors willing and able to help him address a combination of aesthetic, ergonomic, electronic, and materials issues within a tight budget and narrow time frame.

Market research conducted on the TCU led Bottjer to conclude that "many physicians feel that there is less tissue destruction with thermal cautery units than with high-frequency electrosurgical devices, and that patients experience less pain and heal faster, with fewer scars." This encouraging research convinced him that time to market was critical and that he needed to find an appropriate supplier quickly. While attending the MD&M West show in Anaheim in 1999, Bottjer stopped by the booth of Lemo USA Inc. (Rohnert Park, CA) and met with some of the company's engineers. They answered his questions, demonstrated how they would solve his unique connector-design problems, and delivered a prototype within days after the show.

An Auspicious Debut

Connectors supplied by Lemo present the combination of aesthetic, ergonomic, and compliance features that Geiger Medical Technologies sought for its revamped Thermal Cautery Unit.

The Geiger TCU 150 was officially introduced at the American Academy of Dermatology's 2001 annual meeting in Washington, DC. The following year, the device was named a winner in the surgical equipment, instruments, and supplies category of the Medical Design Excellence Awards, a program sponsored by Canon Communications llc, which also publishes MPMN and organizes MD&M West. Among other things, the panel of judges noted Geiger's innovative use of materials and the ability of its product development team to overcome design and engineering challenges to meet clinical objectives.

Following its market introduction, sales of the TCU skyrocketed 600%. It became the unit of choice with its core audience of dermatologists, surgeons, and veterinarians, while its use expanded into ENT, urology, podiatry, plastic surgery, and international markets. Bottjer believes that the connector was, in no small way, one of the major factors in the TCU's success.

Headquartered in Switzerland, Lemo is dedicated to finding solutions through a well-developed design architecture that has been its signature for more than 50 years. By drawing on the company's resources and applying their expertise, engineers were able to quickly design a simple, easy to connect and disconnect male-female push-pull connector for the cautery unit's hand piece and receptacle. With this basic foundation in hand, the team could focus on resolving a set of aesthetic, ergonomic, material, and economic issues while meeting the requirements of the medical electrical equipment standard, IEC 601-1.

Aesthetics plays an important role in a product that is marketed to physicians for inpatient care and that is visible to the patient during treatment. The previous cautery unit looked outdated and unfriendly, and the design of the hand piece had a negative impact on the patient. The Lemo component has an eye-appealing matte brushed-chrome finish on the outer connector with a polished brass-chrome plating, tested to MIL-STD-1344A for moisture resistance, lining the inside shell. Its attractive, high-tech look exemplifies the modern, advanced TCU.

Because the physician constantly removes and replaces the hand piece, Geiger also sought to simplify the latching mechanism and improve its ergonomics. The TCU now sports a one-piece Lemo connector (in lieu of two connectors in the previous model), and the split hand-piece cables of the old model have been replaced by a single, flexible, multi-wire cable. Lemo's standard push- pull latching mechanism requires no threading or coupling notch; consequently, no extra space is needed to manipulate the connector, nor are special tools required. To mate the connector, the user simply lines up the keys and clicks them into place. To disengage, he or she simply pulls on the shell of the male connector to retract the latch ears and pull the keys out of the alignment groove. Lemo connectors are rated to 5000 mating cycles.

Off-the-Shelf Solution

Because the TCU has to maintain the desired temperature of 2200°F during tissue contact, Geiger required a high current rating of 10+ A in a connector with only two contacts. Since most products don't need that much current, connectors typically use smaller-gauge wires. Lemo, however, was able to use an off-the-shelf connector that required no modifications--one of 55,000 available--with standard contacts for two large-gauge wires able to carry the required current. Embedded within the metal shells, the two contacts are isolated from each other and from the shells by means of a plastic insert, allowing current to travel through the contact without causing the device to short out or to give the user an electric shock.
It was equally important to source a material for the hand piece that would withstand steam sterilization and not corrode after autoclaving or coming into contact with body fluids. This is achieved by the use of the plastic insert mentioned above, which is molded from PEEK, a material that many connector suppliers refrain from using because of its cost. However, PEEK is dimensionally stable across a broad range of temperatures, preventing contacts from moving and shorting out. Easy to mold, PEEK can also be used with a wide range of materials. Because it uses large quantities of PEEK, Lemo is able to negotiate a reasonable price for the material and maintain competitive rates for its connectors.

Which brings us to the final question of economics. The cost of the hand-piece connector needed to be within a certain price range, and replacement units had to be readily available for distribution. Lemo considered itself to be in a partnership with Geiger, and it developed an annual purchase plan, which not only guaranteed affordability and production, but also solidified delivery dates for the following year.

"Everyone at Lemo--sales, engineering, customer service, and purchasing--was tuned in to our needs from the beginning," says Bottjer. "The experience exceeded our expectations. The Geiger TCU 150 has realized zero rejected parts from Lemo and zero field failures related to the connector." And the high-tech look and feel of the connector sends just the right message, adds Bottjer, "convincing the doctor that he has purchased a top-notch device."

Copyright ©2003 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Radio-Frequency Network Cuts Distribution Costs

Originally Published MPMN January/February 2003

PROFILE

Radio-Frequency Network Cuts Distribution Costs

Handheld units provide real-time resource planning updates

The RF system increased efficiency 
in every aspect of material handling, according to Hollister Inc.

Specializing in the manufacture of pediatric products, Hollister Inc. (Libertyville, IL; www.hollister. com) supplies a variety of devices used in breast-feeding, hospital risk management, and ostomy and wound care. But when the company recently switched from plant-based distribution to a central distribution center, it found that it did not achieve the desired level of order fulfillment productivity and accuracy. To help alleviate these problems, the company contacted solutions integrator Peak Technology (Columbia, MD; www. peaktech.com) about installing a radio-frequency (RF) network to provide real-time updates to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

"The biggest problem with our old system was the manual nature of the transactions," explains Hollister supply-chain logistics manager Lonny Hourigan. "The entire system ran on paper, which meant that a high proportion of our staff was dedicated to data entry. We felt that the next logical step to get our ERP system running efficiently was to use radio frequency for automated data collection," he says. According to Hourigan, Peak Technologies was selected to help Hollister achieve this goal because of the company's willingness to tailor an RF system to suit its unique requirements. 
After reviewing Hollister's paper-based system, Peak Technologies recommended a network of handheld RF terminals based on its SAP R/3 interface. Hollister implemented the network and noticed an instant improvement. 

"The RF system has increased efficiency in every aspect of the material-handling process, virtually eliminating manual data entry and time spent looking for product," says Hourigan. "The bottom line is that after only a few months of operation, we were able to reduce our cost per box by 6%, and we have experienced a 40% reduction in shippable backlog due to the improved speed at which receiving, storage, and replenishment are accomplished." Other cited benefits include a 9% reduction in labor costs and a 50% cut in dock-to-order cycle times.

The new RF-based distribution process used by Hollister begins when the products are still at their manufacturing facilities. Shipping crews at these locations scan each product prior to transport, generating a bar code that is scanned again when the goods arrive at the distribution center. This second scan causes the system to generate a move ticket that is displayed on the receiving worker's handheld scanner, telling him or her exactly where to place the goods. After the goods are successfully stored, the products immediately appear as being available for sale in the central ERP system.

To ensure that goods can be shipped from the distribution center in a timely manner, the RF system also automatically generates refill orders when products in the storage racks near the shipping dock fall below minimum levels. This replenishment order is transmitted to a worker on the floor, who scans the required products when he picks them up and again when he deposits them in the specified location. Should the wrong products be picked up or delivered to the wrong location, the worker is automatically informed of the mistake and instructed to correct it.

The handheld units again come into play when the goods are shipped out. At this stage, the required products are sent via conveyor to the packing area, where they are scanned a final time. The ERP system uses this scan to generate an advance shipping notice and adjust pick-face levels. The goods are then placed into shipping cartons and moved to a metering area, where an address label is automatically waiting.

According to Hourigan, Hollister is so pleased with this system that it plans to expand its use to its manufacturing facilities and European distribution center in the near future. And though he is certainly impressed with the wireless system, he credits much of the project's success not to the technology, but to the company that supplied it. "Peak created a technical project plan that provided the perfect complement to our internal project team," says Hourigan. "We had weekly communications meetings throughout the project where we measured our progress, talked about questions and concerns, and made changes where necessary. Working closely together, we delivered the project on time and on budget," he says. 

Copyright ©2003 Medical Product Manufacturing News

"We Can Rebuild Him. We Have the Technology…"

Originally Published MPMN January 2003

EDITOR'S PAGE

"We Can Rebuild Him.  We Have the Technology..."

Thirty years ago, the words in this headline sounded far-fetched when they were said in a voice-over during the opening credits of the television show, The Six Million Dollar Man. Back in the 1970s, Steve Austin amazed the TV-watching world with his fictional bionic replacement body parts. 

Fast-forward a mere three decades and bionics is a reality. A plethora of implantable devices that will make patients "better, stronger, and faster" are under development. But because they will be placed inside the human body, a major task for manufacturers is to make them compatible with their biological environments.

Scientists at the Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center at the University of Houston took on that challenge by developing artificial eyes composed of tiny ceramic photocells. The cells can detect incoming light and enable some previously blind patients to see. According to the researchers, ceramic microdetectors are not susceptible to biocompatibility problems encountered by earlier silicon versions, such as chip deterioration, eye contamination, and atrophy of the retina. The first human trials for these eyes are set to begin later this year.

Abiocor, an advanced medical system designed to fully sustain the body's circulatory system, was implanted for the first time in a human patient in July 2001. The initial clinical trial for the replacement heart is continuing with the aim of gaining approval to market the AbioCor to support patients with irreversible end-stage heart failure.

Other bionic devices on the horizon include implantable monitors that will track pressure in the brains of spina bifida patients who require fluid-draining shunts. A neurostimulation implant could tell paraplegics who have lost sensitivity in their bladders when to urinate. 

Devices that measure blood pressure inside the heart itself will also soon begin clinical trials. Data Sciences has developed a product that will include a home base station that reads a radio signal sent from the monitor. The data are then transmitted to the patient's doctor. Medtronic has created a similar device called Chronicle, which is already in clinical trials. 

Whether these innovations are successful will be determined largely by how compatible the devices are with their environment. And making sure that happens will be well worth the effort for manufacturers. 

According to a study by Clinica Reports on new developments in biomaterials, the medical device industry is entering an era in which these products are already playing a prominent role. "Decades of R&D and millions of dollars of capital investment are being rewarded by the advent of innovative biomaterial-containing devices..." states the report. The study, conducted in 2000, goes on to say that these devices have created a high growth market, valued in excess of $40 billion within the estimated total medical device industry. 

Orthopedics is one of the largest sectors for the use of biomaterials, both in terms of market value and product breadth. According to Millennium Research Group, the market was valued at more than $930 million in 2001, and the firm expects the market to grow by more than 25% annually over the next five years. The use of biomaterials in cardiac, reconstructive, and wound-care applications, and as polymer matrices for tissue engineering, will also almost certainly expand in the coming years.

To inform manufacturers about the latest methods and techniques in biomaterials, the upcoming MD&M West trade show will host two days of conference sessions on this topic alone. On Wednesday, February 19, morning and afternoon sessions will address issues related to designing better cardiovascular implants, including the development of drug-eluting stents, and tissue engineering.

Orthopedic topics that will be covered on Thursday, February 20, include papers on surface analysis, shape-memory thermoplastics, and the use of cross-linked polyethylenes in the production of wear-resistant hip prostheses. 

Manufacturers will also have the opportunity to meet with suppliers of biomaterials-related products and services among thousands of other exhibitors at the MD&M West exposition to be held February 19-21. More information about the show can be found starting on page 49.
With the number of biocompatible devices on the rise, another quote from The Six Million Dollar Man just might come true someday soon: "We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man."

Susan Wallace

Copyright ©2003 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Testing and Inspection Equipment and Service

Originally Published MPMN January/February 2003

SPOTLIGHT

Testing and Inspection Equipment and Service

Air-leak tester

An air-leak tester features new styling that enables users to perform multichannel synchronous and asynchronous testing. Up to four intelligent detector modules can be connected to the control unit for remote programming with up to 16 programs each. Notably, each of the gas boxes functions independently of the others irrespective of its power or operational status. Program editing or removal can only be carried out with the password-protected control unit. iti Qualitek Inc., 13 Alexander Rd., Ste. 2B, Billerica, MA 01821.


High-intensity UV lamp

An ultraviolet lamp offers brilliant irradiance for optimum fluorescence in inspection applications. The B-100AP provides 100 W of long-wave illumination for detecting extremely fine particles and surface defects normally invisible to the human eye. At 18 in., the lamp produces a high-intensity center of UV irradiance approximately 5 in. in diam. The company's Cool-Touch lamp housing allows users to handle the lamp head regardless of how long the lamp has been on. UVP Inc., 2066 W. 11th St., Upland, CA 91786.


Microtorque tester

A torque tester is suitable for applications requiring uniform rotational performance at low torque levels. The third-generation M15-W features new calibration algorithms for the force-sensing load cell and the dc servomotor, which extend the unit's capabilities to extremely low torque levels of 0.001 gm-cm in the analytical mode and 0.002 gm-cm in the averaging mode. Rotation speed can be set as low as 0.001 rpm. This sensitivity can show variations in rotational consistency, pinpointing many different defects, such as contamination and shaft misalignment. Measurement Research Inc., 551 Fifth St., San Fernando, CA 91340. 


Leak-testing system

A compact, modular unit provides 100% leak testing of small and medium-sized products or components. The TechStand offers dry-air testing with a choice of the company's computerized pressure-decay, differential-pressure, or mass-flow test instruments for turnkey delivery. The unit measures 3.5 ¥ 3 ft deep, and accommodates test parts with footprints up to 8 in. sq and weighing up to 10 lb. A maximum of 10 proximity-switch fixture inputs and up to six solenoid-valve pressure channels are controlled by an onboard sequencer, enabling automated multitest sequences. InterTech Development Co., 7401 N. Linder Ave., Skokie, IL 60077-3220.


Continuous-motion test system

A system tests back pressure using continuous motion. The chamber of the device under test is sealed with dedicated tooling, allowing for consistent verification of quality. The method uses pressure feedback to confirm pressure of a leak-free part. Lack of proper pressure feedback indicates a breach in the seal of the tested part. Haumiller Engineering Co., 445 Renner Dr., Elgin, IL 60123.


Stress-test system

A compact system performs highly accelerated life testing for the medical device manufacturing industry. The AST-8 is small and portable enough to pass through a standard door opening. A multiaxis vibration table and rapid thermal change rate system provide a suitable environment for testing ruggedized designs. Product temperature change rates exceeding 70°C/min can be achieved throughout a range from 200° down to -100°C. Vibration levels in excess of 50 g covering a broad frequency spectrum are transmitted directly to products undergoing testing. Thermotron Industries, 291 Kollen Park Dr., Holland, MI 49423.


Electrical safety analyzer

A portable electrical safety analyzer is designed for testing non-ECG equipment. The LCD on the LKG 601 shows measurements of ground resistance, leakage current, and instrument current. To ensure accuracy, calibrated test points are available. The AAMI or IEC 601 selectable test load provides the user with testing flexibility. The unit comes with either 15- or 20-A capability. Netech, 60 Bethpage Dr., Hicksville, NY 11801.


Contact-angle meters

Rugged, highly repeatable quality control and analytical tools are used for measuring the contact angle on a variety of substrates. The Cam-Plus series of contact-angle meters can be used for evaluation of solid surfaces for adhesion, determining the hydrophobic and hydrophilic nature of the substrate, surface cleanliness, or liquid absorption rates. A fiber-optic light source increases the light intensity for easy measuring in brightly lit rooms and defines the image crisply. 
A micrometer syringe assembly ensures that measured droplets can be formed repeatedly. Tantec Inc., 630 Estes Ave., Schaumburg, IL 60193.


Impact tester

An instrumented machine tests impact properties of polymers, metals, composites, and components. The Dynatup 9250 offers complete computer control and impact velocities of up to 22 m/sec for impact testing in the fields of quality control and research and development. The entire impact can be captured, plotted, and analyzed to determine data such as the ductile-to-brittle transition point, ductility, incipient damage, maximum load, and absorbed energy. The system can test materials in extreme temperatures and harsh environments. Instron, 100 Royall St., Canton, MA 02021.


Oscilloscope probes

A series of 500-MHz-bandwidth oscilloscope probes can test a range of high-frequency applications. Measuring 5 mm in diam and 65 mm in length, the units can access miniaturized and multiple test points that are difficult to reach with standard-sized probes. The small-outline probes are easy to hold and their slim-line design helps guide the tip into dense circuitry without obstructing visual contact within the test point area. Pomona Electronics, 9028 Evergreen Way, M/S 85, Everett, WA 98204.

Copyright ©2003 Medical Product Manufacturing News

My Favorite Bookmarks

Originally Published MPMN January/February 2003

E-NEWS

My Favorite Bookmarks

William Heaney, 
Vice President of Engineering
Nasiff Associates

Zachary Turke 

Trend Micro (www.trendmicro.com) is a computer security firm that hosts a complimentary virus checker that can be run over the Internet. Dubbed HouseCall, this service scans and cleans selected drives and folders without lengthy downloads or decompression times. And because it's hosted directly from the company's site, it's always up-to-date on the most current viruses that are floating around in cyberspace.
 
Transdimensional Technologies (www.tdimension.com) is where I go to keep apprised of the latest testing methods. The firm focuses on evaluating power products and optical systems, but the free papers and testing equipment information provided on the site can be extrapolated to a range of other products. Rapid testing of prototypes is a company specialty. 

LoneBiker (www.lonebiker.com/govt) contains the most complete list of government contact information I've found on the Web. We work in a highly regulated industry, and it never hurts to know exactly who's making the regulations. With just one click, you can go to Web pages for the White House, FDA, the Patent and Trademark Office, most political parties, and many other government organizations. Handy tools for looking up zip codes and area codes also make the site worth visiting.

Borderland Sciences (www. borderlands.com) is a research foundation dedicated to disseminating information on recent scientific developments. The site covers everything from earthquakes to solar technology, so there's some extraneous information, but I find it's a quality nonconventional resource. In addition to complimentary articles and papers, the site contains a list of links to other science resources.

Nasiff Associates (Brewerton, NY; www.nasiff.com) develops medical diagnostic and administrative products that integrate into personal computers. The company's product line includes units for performing electrocardiographs, stress testing, vital sign monitoring, Holter evaluations, and patient record management.

Copyright ©2003 Medical Product Manufacturing News

On-line Newsletter Provides Technical Tips, Product Information

Originally Published MPMN January/February 2003

E-NEWS

On-line Newsletter Provides Technical Tips, Product Information

Zachary Turke

www.medrad.com
(click to enlarge)

Available to users who sign up at www.medrad.com, an electronic newsletter from Medrad Inc. (Indianola, PA) provides those interested in diagnostic imaging equipment with technical tips, relevant white papers, trade show information, and new product descriptions. According to company sources, the complimentary publication is delivered six to eight times a year and was created to supplement the information contained on the company's Web site, keeping customers apprised of industry trends.

"It's a quick read, intended to help customers and others in the medical community keep pace with medical imaging technology and our expanding product lines," explains senior vice president of marketing Cliff Kress. "Subscribers have the option of reading just the highlights or accessing links to get detailed information on angiography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance, ultrasound, and interventional guidance products and services," he says.

Medrad supplies devices and services that enhance medical imaging procedures. The company's product line includes vascular injection systems, magnetic-resonance surface coils, interventional guidance equipment, and accessories. 

Copyright ©2003 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Temperature Control System Mounts Directly on Mold

Originally Published MPMN November 2002

EQUIPMENT NEWS: Molding Equipment

Temperature Control System Mounts Directly on Mold
The Altanium CM temperature control system mounts directly on hot-runner molding machines to eliminate costly power and thermocouple cables.

Eliminating the need for costly power and thermocouple cables, a hot-runner temperature control system from American MSI Corp. mounts directly on a molding machine's junction box using a transverse latching mechanism. "Cables used on molding machines are exposed to continuous stress," explains marketing vice president Serge Jonnaert. "Our Altanium CM control system doesn't use them, so they never need to be replaced, resulting in lower operating costs" he says. According to Jonnaert, the unit achieves further cost savings by consolidating all control functions into a single backplane that maintains autonomous power cards.

The Altanium CM unit measures 9.5 ¥ 9.7 ¥ 6.25 in., and can be used to control up to 12 heat zones. The unit's small size makes it suitable for OEM integration and allows it to be used with robots, optical components, and hoses. Programmed via a dedicated control panel or using a standard Web browser, the system has features for boost control, standby management, mold diagnostics, and data collection.

The software used by the Altanium CM system further optimizes use. Offering active reasoning technology, this software automatically sets the control algorithms using recorded temperature rise and fall characteristics. The UniStart feature manages the warm-up of the entire mold at a steady rate to eliminate uneven thermal expansion that can cause leakage and damage. Intraview diagnostics software tests the mold for incorrect wiring, blown fuses and heaters, and open, reversed, or pinched thermocouples. 

American MSI Corp.
, 5245 Maureen Ln., Moorpark, CA 93021.


Control System Designed for Small and Complex Parts

The Procan MD system optimizes molding operations on Boy Machines' M-series injection molders.

Supplied by Boy Machines Inc., a control system for the company's M-series injection molding machines allows repeatable molding of small and complex parts. Replacing the Procan 2 control system, the Procan MD uses a microprocessor that improves response time and repeatability. The unit can be used to control temperature, pressure, velocity, position, and all other essential process parameters for both
the injection and clamping units.

Programming of the system is achieved using push buttons and menus presented on a flat backlit LCD. The system stores up to 30 setup programs and displays process control charts to ensure quality. The component also enables the operator to set tolerance limits for important operating parameters, and activates an alarm when deviation from these ranges occurs.
The modular design of the Procan MD unit allows upgrading to meet future needs. For instance, a floppy drive can be added for archiving or accessing additional programs. The unit can also be connected to a printer, a remote PC, or a temperature control device. Other options include a second output board, a limited-stroke ejector, an automatic oil preheater, and a deactivating timer.

Boy Machines Inc., 199 Philips Rd., Exton, PA 19341.


Injection Molding Machine Provides 10 Tons of Clamping Force

A parting-line injection molder, this machine from Mini-Jector Machinery Corp. has a shot capacity of 1- or 2-oz.

Occupying 11 sq ft of floor space, a fully automatic injection molding machine from Mini-Jector Machinery Corp. features a 10-tn full-hydraulic clamp system with a choice of 1- or 2-oz shot capacity. The Model #60 is a vertical-inject, horizontal-clamp parting-line molder configured with systems and controls taken from the precursor vertical-clamp models #70 and #75. Multiple-stroke hydraulic ejectors and a positive shutoff nozzle are standard, while options include air-blast stationary side ejectors and core pull. Parting-line injection uses the entire mold surface, thanks to elimination of the center sprue. Platens are drilled to mount tooling run in discontinued machines. All position, heat, and pressure settings are established through the touch screen interface, and 36 setups can be stored. 

Mini-Jector Machinery Corp., P.O. Box 259, Newbury, OH 44065.


Insert Molder Is Engineered for Manufacturing Medical Devices

The Medi-Molder machine from C.A. Lawton features injection sizes of 0.07 to 0.29 oz., and an infinitely variable clamping force of 5 
to 30 tn.

Producing delicate needles, multilumen catheters, implantables, and other products, an insert molding machine from C.A. Lawton is specifically designed for manufacturing medical devices. Offering injection sizes of 0.07 to 0.29 oz, the Medi-Molder unit features proportional hydraulics to provide precise pressure control. The machine can be supplied with a choice of 16-, 20-, or 32-mm screw injection units. Separate carriage cylinders allow melt decompression before or after screw rotation, and accommodate sprue break.

The clamping unit of the Medi-Molder machine delivers an infinitely variable clamping force of 5 to 30 tn. Offering variable clamping speed for crisper parting lines, the unit accommodates book-style, two-plate, or hot-runner molds. The component's large size ensures uniform force distribution and increases cavitation. A programmable rotary table is used to reduce index and cycle times. The table's large diameter allows it to accommodate large and complex molds, and makes it adaptable to secondary automation. A servo drive ensures accurate mold positioning and is controlled independently of the plastication function. 

The Medi-Molder machine is programmed via an intuitive color touch screen that features drop-down menus. This control system provides adaptive tuning to compensate for minor processing variations and allows the setting of individualized injection-parameter set points for up to six stations. The unit offers optional remote capabilities and is field programmable for future upgrading.  

C.A. Lawton Co., 111 W. Walnut St., Green Bay, WI 54303.


Hot-Runner Nozzle Gates Small Parts

Supplied by Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., the Ultra 250 nozzle has a bore diameter of 11 mm and minimum nozzle spacing of 18 mm. 

Suited for inside gating or small-pitch molding of miniature parts, a hot-runner nozzle from Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. features a bore diameter of 11 mm and a minimum nozzle spacing of 18 mm. The Ultra 250 nozzle provides a throughput of 10 g/sec, and is constructed with a spring that holds the unit against the manifold in cold conditions to eliminate leakage. The unit's compact design permits tight nozzle spacing within a compact mold frame and minimizes heat loss. 

Four thermal gating tips are available for the Ultra 250 nozzle. An extended tip permits direct gating in difficult-to-access areas. An inside-gating tip eliminates visible gate marks on product surfaces. For those applications where flow lines are unacceptable, a flow-through tip can be specified. A tip made of wear-resistant material is suited for use with abrasive resins.

The Ultra 250 nozzle is guaranteed leakproof for a period of 3 years. In order to simplify maintenance, the nozzle assembly can be removed for replacement while the mold is still attached to the molding machine.

Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., 288 North Rd., Milton, VT 05468.




Troubleshooting Tool Helps to Correct Defects

This is the opening screen of the Tech Connect module, an interactive tool from Syscon-PlantStar that allows molding operators to access expert troubleshooting information 24 hours a day.

An interactive troubleshooting tool from Syscon-PlantStar assists supervisors, operators, and setup personnel in identifying and correcting the most common and costly reasons for defects in injection-molded parts. Serving as an add-on to the company's real-time plant information system, the Tech Connect module is designed to keep companies producing the best possible components at all times. 

"With high operator turnover, it's hard for many organizations to keep experienced technicians on the plant floor at all times, especially during third shift," says marketing manager Lyn Davis. "So when a problem arises, it often has to wait several hours before it can be resolved. The Tech Connect system eliminates this lag time, making expert advice available 24 hours a day," she says.

The Tech Connect system achieves this using a series of touch screen menus that guide the operator through problem identification and the steps needed to rectify it. After choosing the specific defect from a list of common maladies, the system then displays an example of the defect to ensure that is has been correctly identified. If it has, a short video explains the defect's causes and details the steps needed to correct it.

Suited for correcting cavity, melt-temperature, and flow and cooling rate problems, the system features full-color video, audio, and 3-D graphic animation. Emphasis is given to the fundamentals of the molding process to allow operators on the plant floor to make the most informed decisions.

Syscon-PlantStar, 1108 S. High St., South Bend, IN 46601.




Molding Machine Suited for Thin-Wall, Fast-Cycle Production

The TMS injection molder from Battenfeld of America Inc. highlights high injection speed, pressure, and plasticizing rates.

An injection molding machine offers high injection speed, pressure, and plasticizing rates for thin-wall, fast-cycle production. Supplied by Battenfeld of America Inc., the TMS molder also features a clamping unit capable of rapid force buildup to minimize dry-cycle times. A large, integrated moving platen support in this component ensures platen parallelism and provides long-term mold protection. Different mold heights can be accommodated using a central adjustment mechanism. 

The injection unit of the TMS molder combines a servo valve with a high-capacity control system. A swiveling mechanism on the rotary mounting minimizes service and screw changeover times. A hydraulic motor is supplied as a standard power source, but an optional electric screw drive is also available. 

Battenfeld of America Inc., 31 James P. Murphy Hwy., Warwick, RI 02893.

Copyright ©2002 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Remolding a Leader

Originally Published MX January/February 2003

COVER STORY

Interview by Steve Halasey

Martin D. Madaus, 
president and CEO 
of Roche Diagnostics, 
on leadership 
in the market--
and in the boardroom.

Leadership counts--and not just on the bottom line. Company leadership can influence the direction of a marketplace and its investors, making available resources that would otherwise have gone into other sectors or industries. And personal leadership can encourage companies to take on challenges well beyond those of an already competitive marketplace.

But don't take our word for it. Ask Martin D. Madaus, president and CEO of Roche Diagnostics Corp. (Indianapolis), the leader in the global market for in vitro diagnostics (IVDs). Rising through the ranks at Boehringer Mannheim (acquired by Roche in 1997), Madaus took over the helm of the company in January 2000. He arrived with a clear notion of the kind of company he wanted to lead, and rapidly set about putting his changes in motion.