GPS-Inspired System Enables Real-Time Positioning of Devices

BREAKTHROUGHS

GPS-Inspired System Enables Real-Time Positioning of Devices
Catheters could soon feature medical positioning system technology, which would provide real-time position and orientation information for intrabody navigation.

The release of global positioning system (GPS) capabilities for automobiles has aided countless drivers in plotting a clear course to their destination, removing the uncertainty and frustration associated with getting lost. A GPS-inspired technology applied to medical devices could yield the same results.

Medical Positioning System (MPS) technology, developed by Israel-based medical device company MediGuide Ltd., is designed to help physicians navigate devices through the tortuous environment of the body. MPS provides real-time position and orientation information projected in a 2- or 3-D image on either live fluoroscopic or recorded backgrounds.

“Nothing [is on the market] with the same accuracy, physical sensor dimension, level of integration with imaging, and compensation for moving organs,” says Allon Guez, vice president of business development.

MPS-equipped sensors can be integrated into the tips of such devices as guidewires, catheters, stents, and balloons. Using proprietary electromagnetic technology, MPS technology enables tracking of the sub-millimeter-sized sensors within a magnetic field created by the MPS unit’s field generator. It draws from non-line-of-sight intrabody navigation methods; however, it is not limited by the drawbacks commonly associated with the technique, according to MediGuide. The company points to such disadvantages of the existing navigation technique as the need to maintain a continuous line of sight between the tracking cameras and visual designators on the device, and the inability to track nonrigid devices.

“MPS currently brings a better 3-D perspective to the physicians and facilitates ease of use and accuracy in the navigation of devices,” Guez says. “Once additional claims are clinically approved, it is also expected to reduce exposure to radiation and use of toxic dye, as well as to improve procedure flow.”

The technology recently received the CE mark for use in Europe, as did the first MPS-enabled guided measurement catheter, which can be used with conventional x-ray angioplasty systems featuring MPS, according to the company. In addition to positioning details, the system also provides quantitative length measurement, 3-D lumen construction, qualitative 3-D foreshortening indication, and landmarking.

Despite European consent, MPS and associated MPS-enabled products are not yet approved for use in the United States. FDA sanctioning could be on the horizon, however. Furthermore, in January, MediGuide signed a collaboration agreement with Medtronic for the development of MPS-enabled products in North America.

MediGuide Ltd., Haifa, Israel
www.mediguide.co.il

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Doctor Decries Excessive Medical Imaging

Today's New York Times has an essay by cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar, MD that depicts and decries the excessive consultation and testing -- especially medical imaging -- that he believes is the prime driver of the United States' spiraling healthcare costs. While he seems to believe some of the blame lies with greedy doctors, patients who confuse quality of care with quantity of care, and overuse of new technology, he says the main culprit is the "perverse financial incentives of our current [healthcare] system." CMS adapted to rising healthcare costs by cutting reimbursement rates. Since doctors get paid what they bill, many have responded by increasing the quantity of services. If you get paid by the task, and you're going to get paid less for each task you perform, and you want your level of income to remain the same, you're going to perform more tasks, whether they are needed or not. While on the surface this may appear to be an anti-technology argument, it really isn't. If the dynamic that Jauhar depicts is accurate, it would still occur regardless of the rate of introduction of new technology. If anything, reliance on older technology could give rise to MORE unneeded procedures, since doctors would presumably be paid less per test than if they used the latest technology. That gives credence to the argument of AdvaMed and others that the main culprit isn't the high costs of new technology, but a broken system of compensation and financing. Certainly, part of the problem is that patients sometimes demand access to new technology when they don't need it, and doctors are all too willing to oblige them. But it's not the whole problem, or even a substantial part of it.

Under Pressure: Evaluating Different Sensing Technologies

PRODUCT UPDATE

Under Pressure: Evaluating Different Sensing Technologies
Pressure sensors and transducers can incorporate a range of sensing technologies; however, each one brings distinct pros and cons
Shana Leonard

Pressure sensors and transducers are critical components in many medical applications. They monitor the pressure of gas or fluids and provide feedback to ensure that everything is normal, or provide alerts to indicate otherwise. Owing to the components’ important role in a finished product, pressure sensor selection should not be taken lightly. When choosing a pressure sensor or transducer for a medical application, OEMs must carefully consider a variety of factors that include accuracy, media, package size, and environment, among others. Taking these into account, OEMs must then determine which sensing technology is best for their application—a debate among sensor suppliers that centers heavily on metal- versus silicon-based processes.

Metal Strain-Gauge Technology

Pressure transducers from Gems Sensors employ thin-film sensing technology and perform well at high pressure and within a wide temperature range.

Consisting of mounting metal elements onto a metal diaphragm using an insulator or epoxy, metal foil strain-gauge technology is typically utilized in sensors operating in high pressure ranges. Critics are quick to point out that such sensors have a tendency to drift over time, while supporters of the technology tout its media compatibility and relative stability.

“Foil strain gauge is a proven technology that has been around for more than 70 years now,” says Javad Mokbery, president of Futek (Irvine, CA; www.futek.com), a sensor supplier specializing in the technology. “It is far more stable temperature-wise and [enables] better control than silicon MEMS technology.”

Metal-based sensing technology also offers greater design flexibility as compared with silicon, Mokbery says. “With MEMS, you are limited in terms of pressure range. With [metal] technology, you can go as high as 100,000 psi if you wish, and as low as a fraction of an inch.”

Building on its experience with load cells and force sensors for medical devices, Futek has introduced the foil strain-gauge-based PMP410 pressure sensor to the market. Suited for medical applications subjected to mechanical shock, vibration, and EMI, the product can be employed in filtration systems, some dialysis equipment, and any device that needs to monitor pressure in fluid lines.

The sensor has stainless-steel construction for media compatibility and is designed without soft internal sealing materials that could react to the media or deteriorate over time. Additional features include accuracy to within 0.5% and standard signal output of 5 V dc, which enables integration with existing applications. A piezoresistive measuring cell is employed for applications with pressure ranges up to 300 psi, while thin-film technology is used when higher pressure ranges are required.

Silicon MEMS Technology

MEMS-based sensing technology features implanted piezoresistors on a thin silicon membrane that changes in response to applied pressure rather than strain, as is the case with strain-gauge designs. Drawbacks of silicon include its poor performance in extreme temperatures and its tendency to experience warm-up drift during start-up mode. Because of the high accuracy demanded of many medical applications, warm-up drift can be a particular danger since it can cause pressure sensor feedback to vary until the equipment achieves operating temperature.

Among the benefits of silicon-based pressure sensors, on the other hand, are that they can be mass-produced easily, are effective for low-pressure applications, and offer repeatability. Furthermore, MEMS technology enables extremely small package sizes, which has proven especially valuable in the minimally invasive market. But while MEMS-enabled miniaturization is a clear advantage of silicon, it also has limitations. “In the case of a pressure sensor, we cannot shrink below certain limits because it is an electromechanical device,” says Bala Kashi, product manager for medical devices at Measurement Specialties Inc. (Hampton, VA; www.meas-spec.com). “Because it is also a mechanical device, it has to have a minimum size; that’s where a lot of limitations are.” Kashi cites some invasive and implantable probes as especially challenging because of the extremely small pressure sensor size required.

Measurement Specialties focuses its efforts on silicon sensing technology, although it does offer foil strain-gauge products as well. The company’s MSP300-series pressure transducer is designed for external medical equipment and also can be used in cryogenic angioplasty procedures to monitor the liquid-nitrogen pressure applied as well as the dangers of bursting the balloon.

The product features the company’s proprietary Microfused technology and features a compact vibration-resistant package. Engineered without seals in the pressure port, the transducer features a port and diaphragm machined from stainless steel. The sum of all errors—including linearity, hysteresis, and temperature—is ±1% full scale. Customization includes snubbers for hydraulic hammer protection.

Thin-Film Technology

The MSP300-series pressure transducer from Measurement Specialties is suited for use in external equipment and in cryogenic angioplasty procedures.

Thin-film technology combines elements from both MEMS and foil strain-gauge methods. Like foil-strain gauge technology, thin-film processes employ metal rather than silicon and are better suited to high-pressure applications. But unlike with foil strain-gauge sensors, thin-film-based-units pressure do not feature an epoxy, which many experts speculate contributes to greater stability.

Gems Sensors & Controls Inc. (Plainville, CT; www.gemssensors.com), a supplier of sensors and fluidic systems, draws from silicon MEMS processes for its thin-film technology. The company has semiconductor fabs where it builds sensing elements in a wafer format on which it deposits resistors and circuitry, treating the metal ‘wafer’ as if it were silicon, according to Kris Lafko, product marketing manager. However, the company does not micromachine the metal, as would be the procedure for a MEMS wafer.

“What this [process] brings is incredibly long-term stability that is far, far better than silicon,” Lafko explains. “Because it’s metal-to-metal, it’s extremely good in critical environments, high pressure ranges, and wide temperature ranges.”

Furthermore, thin-film technology is suited for pure oxygen applications in anesthesia equipment, whereas oil-filled stainless-steel MEMS sensors pose a risk in such applications because the oil can become toxic or flammable if the stainless-steel diaphragm ruptures or the weld fails over time, Lasko says. Applicable for such uses, the Gems Sensors 3100- and 3200-series pressure transducers feature stainless-steel configurations, measure less than 1 in. in diam, weigh less than 32 g, and demonstrate long-term stability. The products can measure pressure ranges from 0–100 to 0–30,000 psi. Accuracy is 0.25% and long-term drift is limited to 0.1% over the full scale per year, according to the company.

Kavlico Corp. (Moorpark, CA; www.kavlico.com), a sensor and transducer manufacturer, is involved with numerous kinds of sensing technologies ranging from ceramic capacitive to several MEMS-based methods. The company also provides pressure sensors based on a thin-film process. Benefits of such sensors include its hermetically sealed configurations, insensitivity to most media types, and lower cost in high- volume applications as compared with some competing technologies, according to Chris Dixon, director of sales and marketing.

But, as with all technologies, there are some drawbacks. “All thin films are not created equal,” cautions Dixon. “A disadvantage of thin film is the relatively small signal that responds to the pressure. Kavlico uses a proprietary film that produces an output of 4–5 mv/V, where competing technologies can be 3 mv/V or lower. That has implications in the ultimate accuracy and temperature performance of the sensor, as a lower signal is more prone to signal or noise issues that will ultimately limit accuracy.”

The company’s most recent product, however, incorporates piezoresistive sensing technology instead, for miniature package design and flexible pressure ranges. The P6050 surface-mount pressure sensor is compatible with standard PCB assembly methods and is suitable for pressures ranging from 0–13 in. H20 to 0–75 psi. It is designed to measure air or dry gases in such medical applications as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and respirators. Accuracy specification is ±0.5% for linearity, repeatability, and hysteresis at 25°C.

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

It's Easy to Get into Trouble Because of CAPA

True and robust Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA) systems are more than just a formal mechanism for tracking problems, says an FDA expert on quality systems. They must encompass a number of data sources, including complaint handling, nonperforming product mechanisms, Medical Device Reporting, corrections, removals, and recalls, said Jan Welch, a quality systems expert in CDRH's Office of Compliance. She spoke as part of an audioconference on implementing an effective CAPA system, held March 6. It was sponsored by FOI Services and moderated by Nancy Singer, president of Compliance-Alliance Inc. and a member of MD&DI's Editorial Advisory Board. A lot of firms who have been cited by FDA have not gotten this message, she said. She did an analysis of FDA-483 observations issued in 2007 and found that 964 of the 3332, or 29%, issued had something to do with CAPA. Of these, 474 had to do with the actual CAPA system, 363 had to do with complaint handling, and 127 had to do with failure to document nonconforming product. Of the 474 citations having to do specifically with the CAPA system, 144 came from documentation problems, and 104 came from failure to establish or maintain a CAPA system at all. This happens too often with startup firms and firms that don't think they are making a medical device but really are, Welch said. Unfortunately, the numbers also indicate that CAPA problems are not easy to fix. During 2007, CDRH issued 74 warning letters for deficiencies related to the quality system or good manufacturing practices, and 62, or 84%, had something to do with CAPA, Welch said. This percentage has been consistent over the last few years, she said. One of the keys to improving this, Welch said, is not to be afraid of "feeding the CAPA system." Too many firms think FDA will react negatively if there are a lot of CAPA files, open, but this is not the case, she said. "FDA is not hung up on the numbers," she said. "It is interested in how you are handling CAPA files and what is being done with them." At the other extreme, it is not appropriate to designate every CAPA issue as a top priority. "It can't be," she said. "You have to use risk management tools and prioritize them, and document those decisions." What's important is that the firm show that progress is being made on all open CAPA files, she said.

Wireless Implantable Heart Monitor Offers Reassurance

The technology could make for faster diagnosis, more efficient treatment management, and fewer visits to the hospital -- which would save money. Interestingly, Transoma started out as a pharmaceutical research firm and developed what became the Sleuth technology to monitor the effects of drugs on animals. It didn't think of the technology as a device that could be used in humans until other firms started making wireless implantable devices. It plans to aim the product at those with chronic conditions such as syncope (unexplained fainting.)

Inland Empire Valley Presents a Sea of Opportunities for Medical Industry

REGIONAL FOCUS

Inland Empire Valley Presents a Sea of Opportunities for Medical Industry
Stephanie Steward
In this thriving Southern California oasis, medical device OEMs and suppliers have harnessed a network of resources
(click image to enlarge)

The vast valley that stretches from the edge of the San Fernando Valley east of Los Angeles to include parts of San Bernadino and Riverside counties is known as the Inland Empire. Here, medical device manufacturers worldwide can gain easy access to a multitude of suppliers and service providers. Roughly two-thirds the size of Connecticut, the IE—as it’s called on the street and in traffic reports—lends itself to facility expansion, inspires exploration, and encourages industry growth. Already an established hot zone for economic development, medical device OEMs, and other high-tech companies, the IE’s industrial market is expected to further solidify its position as Southern California’s leading distribution hub, according to a 2008 forecast from commercial real estate service provider Grubb & Ellis Co.

Proximity Is Everything

The IE’s prime location is within easy reach of snow-capped mountains, beaches, and Las Vegas. Demetrius Chrysostomou, director of technology at PVA TePla America (Corona, CA; www.pvateplaamerica.com), moved to the Inland Empire several years ago and says that he and several of his European friends have been bit by what he calls the Inland Vampire. Once bitten, he says, you can’t leave.

A lot of people seem to share this sentiment: The IE’s general population has been climbing steadily, reaching 4.1 million in 2007, a 3.3% compound growth rate from the previous year. Much of this population spike can be attributed to affordable real estate rates, which have lured flocks of Southern Californians to the region since the 1950s, when the Inland Empire earned its moniker to distinguish it from the cities closely surrounding Los Angeles.

The resulting available employee base and affordable building space is bolstering the presence of the high-tech industry in the region. “The Inland Empire will continue to be an industrial powerhouse in 2008, benefiting from its close proximity to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, competitive rents, Los Angeles’s under 2% vacancy rate, and available space to accommodate large warehouse users,” according to the Grubb & Ellis report.

The economic and geographic advantages of running a business out of the IE have also garnered the attention of companies involved in the medical device sector. Manufacturers and suppliers who have set up shop in the area include Corona-based Accent Plastics (www.accentplastics.com), Thoro Packaging (www.thoropkg.com), and Tamarack Scientific (www.tamsci.com), as well as Becton Dickinson (Franklin Lakes, NJ; www.bd.com), which has a distribution center in Redlands, CA. The IE’s distribution channels—strategically located rail, highway, and air transportation systems—and affordability are key reasons motivating companies to relocate and expand their businesses within the area, according to the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP).

“Operating out of this region tends to benefit us because a lot of the employees used to work in Orange or L.A. County and are happy to work in this area so they don’t have to spend as much time on the freeways,” says Roy Hornstein, president of RKL Industries (Corona, CA; www.rkltech.com), which manufactures precision components. “The housing prices are a little less than [neighboring] Orange County [and] in this particular location, we’re close to our primary customer base,” he adds.

Thomas Jenkins, president of HTG—A.C. Hoffman (Riverside, CA; www.hi-tech-group.com), says the company chooses to keep its elastomeric-component molding facility in Riverside because the city has its own public utilities department, which offers lower electrical rates than the Southern California Edison grid in the neighboring county. “It was a major thing to consider because that’s one of our biggest overhead costs. We use a lot of power to heat the presses.”

Referring to Corona as a “mold-heavy area,” Dave Semanik, manager, tooling and engineering for Accent Plastics, says that the Inland Empire’s easy access to all of Southern California’s resources has attracted a lot of component manufacturers and mold makers. “The labor force is here; [we have] access to San Diego [where] we’ve developed a lot of customers over the years; [and] we’re close to L.A. and the Ontario airport, which is 20 minutes away,” he says.

Also helping drive and sustain the area’s advances in manufacturing technology for the medical industry are the presence of Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC); the University of California, Riverside; and the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences (Claremont, CA). Based on research conducted at LLUMC, Optivus Technology (Loma Linda, CA; www.optivus.com) has developed a proton particle accelerator that can destroy cells without causing damage to surrounding tissue, according to the IEEP. Moreover, a constantly growing knowledgeable workforce generated from graduating students is a valuable asset to the area. In fact, in 2006, UC, Riverside debuted a department of bioengineering, intended in part to focus on advancing technologies for medical device development.

A Networking Oasis

Like a modern-day oasis, the Inland Empire is simultaneously a major hub for supply chains and distribution networks and a trading post in which caravans of suppliers and manufacturers can quench their thirst for new ideas and extend the reach of their business. Companies that have already set up camp here have an intimate knowledge of how to navigate the region and capitalize on its resources.

“OEMs more and more are looking for a single provider so they can focus on the design and marketing of products and not have to worry about all the technology that they would have to learn,” Jenkins says. HTG—A.C. Hoffman, part of the Hi-Tech Group of companies, has its customers work with one representative from the company who then coordinates with all of HTG’s facilities to provide exactly what the customer is looking for, enabling a strong supply chain.

Likewise, extrusion services provider ExtruMed (Temecula, CA; www.extrumed.com) coordinated with Extrusioneering, the Southern California company it merged with a couple of years ago, to prune their operations and enhance their strongest capabilities. “One of the first things we decided to do was to look at best practices and synergies between the two facilities,” says Don Centell, general manager. Using a materials shortage as an example of how the merger has benefited the outfit, he says: “We used to scan the globe [for supplies]. Now we can just pick up the phone and they ship it [right over].”

Amidst all the networking and outsourcing opportunities of this established marketplace, however, Centell notes that companies that specialize in niche product groupings—tight-tolerance tubing or balloon tubing, for example—tend to grab up business that larger outsourcing firms don’t have the ability to produce. “You can’t just treat [specialty products] as ‘let’s knock out so many widgets per hour,’” he says. “There’s a much higher skill set that’s required to run the tighter-tolerance products. The [companies] that are doing it right are going to be successful, and the ones that can’t [are] going to fall to the wayside very quickly because [the medical device] industry doesn’t have a lot of patience for learning curves.”

Somewhat ahead of the curve is PVA, which specializes in altering the surface properties of materials without affecting their bulk properties. It uses a clean process of energizing gas into a state of electrical conductivity to modify adhesion characteristics. The company recently developed a process to activate Teflon. According to Chrysostomou, Teflon, or PTFE, has historically been difficult to bond to other materials or to activate permanently using plasma technology. However, its inertness makes it great for use in in vivo devices like catheters. “So, what if you could treat the surface to perform specific functions and still keep its inertness? That’s what we’ve managed to do,” he says. PVA is currently customizing its plasma technology, which is a much greener, cleaner process than conventional wet-chemistry surface treatment methods. “One of our plans for 2008 is to develop a plasma system that is designed specifically for the treatment of catheters and guidewires,” Chrysostomou says.

Cultivating the Future

Having ridden out a series of agricultural booms and mastered suburban sprawl, residents and supporters of the Inland Empire are experienced in helping their economy and businesses flourish. There was a high level of agreement among CEOs that the climate for business expansion is positive at city and county levels, according to a Business Press CEO Insights Study conducted by Wilkin Guge Marketing. “More than half agreed positively that efforts by their city were leading to business expansion, compared with 13% who held a negative opinion. Just over 58% felt the counties where their businesses are based are doing a positive job at promoting business expansion.”

In addition to these regional efforts to cultivate business, companies in the IE are staying in tune with the medical device industry’s current trends. Accent Plastics, for example, is looking toward employing more green manufacturing processes, and HTG is branching out into using more organic materials.

But branching out in the IE isn’t limited to a company’s capabilities; there is plenty of space in which to expand their facilities. “Growth at Hoffman Engineering has doubled in three years and will double again in probably two more years. We have the room,” says Jenkins. HTG, Accent Plastics, and ExtruMed all have plans to either add machines or expand their facility floor space within the next year. “The medical [device] industry is a strong, steadily growing industry, and I think the value proposition that the Hi-Tech Group has put together in the quality of our products is allowing us to grow like this,” says Jenkins. “We have the right mix of companies at the right time and business is good.”

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Revised Calibration and Test Methods Improve Production Throughput

ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS

Revised Calibration and Test Methods Improve Production Throughput
Retooled testing techniques enabled better quality control of an oxygen-delivery device
InterTech's functional test instrument controls vacuum during testing without the use of valves.

Unlike continuous-flow oxygen-delivery systems, the Spirit portable oxygen conservation device (OCD) minimizes oxygen use because it only flows when triggered by inspiration in a natural breathing cycle. Manufactured by Caire Inc. (Cleveland; www.cairemedical.com), a division of Chart Industries, the Spirit is calibrated so that when a patient takes a breath, the prescribed amount of oxygen is not only delivered, but done so in a way that is in sync with a patient’s natural breathing cycle. Quality control tests further guarantee that units will only trigger when the patient takes a breath, will perform adequately in low-battery conditions, and will accurately reflect such status in the indicator LED.

Launched in 2001, the original Spirit unit underwent calibrations that proved to be tedious and dragged on production throughput. “It was not an industrially robust system, required frequent calibration, and was even prone to the problems of PCs running Windows-based technology,” says Kevin Rogers, manufacturing engineer.

The firm turned to InterTech Development Co. (Skokie, IL; www.intertechdevelopment.com), whose focus on test technology had enabled it to increase yields in test-intensive production lines. After reviewing machine specifications and algorithms necessary to test and calibrate the system’s operations, InterTech suggested that a change was needed. “The previous test system was a mechanical device, a sort of bellows, to simulate the draw of breath,” says Dave Balke, senior product engineer at InterTech. “Our applications lab determined that this was problematic both in terms of response time and repeatability.”

An InterTech M-1035z functional test instrument that controls vacuum up to 0.300 H20 nominal without interfering with pulse flow helped overcome this obstacle. “This is very important when you are trying to closely simulate a breath triggering a flow pulse that you want to measure,” Balke says. “InterTech’s method controls the vacuum precisely without using any valves, and consequently bypasses the constant valve failures that had plagued the previous test system.”

The complete functional test of the system from 22 to 52 psig includes an autotriggering test to ensure that it does not operate unintentionally, a sensitivity test to detect the vacuum level at which the unit pulses, a pulse volume test at six positions to verify that the delivered volume is within specification of each setting, continuous flow tests by selecting the control flow, green and red LED tests, a battery test at low-voltage pulse settings that tests monitoring volumes between the 13 and 80 ml/pulse accept limits, and an optional apnea test.

Sensitivity calibration is achieved by monitoring the pressure at the Spirit’s cannula port as a breath is simulated, and adjusting the unit’s OCD sensitivity potentiometer to the desired value range. Manifold calibration monitors the pulse volume while the test station simulates breaths, and requires adjusting the OCD manifold’s flow-control valve.

“It used to take 3½ to 4 minutes to test each unit. Now we completely test in half that time,” Rogers says. “As an added bonus, the InterTech system is identifying 2.5% of production units with a defect that we couldn’t identify before. While these defects are small enough to never be noticeable to or compromise a patient, it does give us the ability to more closely control our processes and vendor quality.”

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Machining

FOCUS ON EQUIPMENT

Machining

Redesigned Wire EDM Machines Provide Improved Speed and Accuracy

A line of wire EDM equipment has been redesigned to provide faster, more accurate cutting speeds and surface-finishing capabilities for the production of joint-replacement components, surgical knives, needles, clamps, and other medical device components. The new Fanuc iD machines feature a thermally insulated cast Meehanite base designed to provide 40% more rigidity than previous models. Table travel capacity was increased to eliminate load overhang during table movement and to provide high rigidity for heavy workloads. An added air-jet wire transport system in the upper annealing pipe also helps improve accuracy, reliability, and speed.
Methods EDM, a div. of Methods Machine Tools Inc., Sudbury, MA
www.methodsmachine.com


Laser Wafer-Scribing Machine Features Optical System for High-Speed Dicing

Featuring a solid-state 266-nm laser, a wafer-scribing and die-singulation machining system uses precision linear motion and part handling to ensure high throughput. The platform of the IX-188 ChromaDice machining center provides flexibility through features such as multiple stages for wafers up to 6 in. and the manufacturer’s Vortex nozzle for debris removal. Its optical system for high-speed wafer dicing includes high-precision optical mounts for stability and ease of adjustment. Granite integrated into the machine’s structural design can eliminate the need for routine and cumbersome realignment of the optical system. The laser, beam-delivery system, and electronics are fully enclosed. Processing up to five wafers per hour, the machine’s noncontact technique provides constant maintenance-free operation, according to the manufacturer.
JP Sercel Associates Inc., Manchester, NH
www.jpsalaser.com


Abrasive Water-Jet System Machines Medical Device Parts and Prototypes

An abrasive water-jet machining system is used to quickly and accurately cut large or multiple stock parts as large as 5 × 10 ft in a variety of materials. The 60120 JetMachining center can be used for applications such as blanking out surgical instruments from special steel alloys, medical device prototyping, cutting artificial limb components from carbon-fiber composites, and water-only applications such as cutting thin plastic for case dividers that hold medical instruments in place throughout the sterilization process. Employing a movable cutting head, the machining center also features a traction drive that achieves high accuracy by closing a positioning loop with linear encoders in the same manner as a linear motor. Its bridge-style y-axis design improves reliability, requiring little maintenance, according to the manufacturer. The system’s motion control technology can also calculate the velocity of a tool path at more than 2000 points per inch, enabling precise, rapid machining.
Omax Corp., Kent, WA
www.omax.com


Precision Machining Center Requires Half the Floor Space of Similar Machines

With a compact footprint of 1.0 × 1.8 m, a precision machining center uses half the floor space of similar machines, according to the manufacturer. To provide high-quality machining of finished surfaces, the Xion-II 5AX features simultaneous five-axis control. High-speed acceleration and deceleration functions minimize downtime, and low electrical consumption results in low operating costs. Designed using 3-D solid modeling, the machining center has no overhanging structures and is approximately 2.0 m tall. Equipped with linear scales, the system creates a fully closed-loop feedback system to achieve positioning accuracy within 0.10 µm. It also features a trunion-style, two-axis rotary table for multisurface processing, and has profile-machining capabilities. Optional accessories include automatic tool and work measurement systems.
Sugino Corp., Itasca, IL
www.suginocorp.com

Copyright ©2008 Medical Product Manufacturing News

Header Pouch Inventor Celebrates 75 Years in Business

The venture, Allianz Flexible Packaging, will serve China and other locations in Southeast Asia.

Cancer Society Endorses Virtual Colonoscopies

Patients might be more willing to undergo these tests than regular colonoscopies, which are notoriously invasive. The groups included colonoscopies, virtual colonoscopies, stool DNA tests, and four other tests on a list of procedures that should be considered for anyone over 50 and for those under 50 with symptoms or risk factors for colon cancer.