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Our Business Development Laser Engineer Redi Nasto was a key contributor to a recent industry article on machining and laser processing in medical manufacturing. Read Redi’s contribution below or check out MPO Magazine’s February digital edition for the full article by Associate Editor Sam Brusco.

Machining & Laser Processing Have Huge Parts to Play in Medtech Manufacturing

Machining and laser processing are mainstay methods used to manufacture medical components. Manufacturing firms specializing in precision machining and laser processing services thrive as component and device designs shrink and become more complex to accommodate healthcare trends like robotic and minimally invasive surgeries. As such, machinists need the technology, skill set, and education to forge the minute features these products require.

Many machining operations feature computer numerical control (CNC) and laser equipment depending on part specifications. CNC machines excel for bulk material removal, and lasers are better to profile and drill fine features. CNC machine makers specialize their products even further with improved raw material processing control, IoT and cloud connectivity, and advanced software. Cutting-edge femtosecond lasers have astounding speed, precision, and ability to cut small features, without risking heat-affected zones (HAZ).

Medical device makers partnering with firms specializing in these areas seek out higher standards of quality, lower costs, and faster speed to market. They also look for a partner with the skills necessary to handle complex components, some with multiple and/or delicate features and extremely tight tolerances. In order to examine the inner workings of this industry and gather more insight on the subject, MPO spoke to several medical device and component machining and laser processing experts over the past few weeks.

What latest technological or operational advances have most impacted your machining/laser processing capabilities for medical device manufacturing?

Redi Nasto: As experts in the field of laser processing for medical components and sub-assemblies, our primary objective is to implement the latest innovative technologies to expand our capabilities and enhance the efficiency and finish quality of current processes.

The ability to change laser parameters “on the fly” during the laser cutting process allows us to optimize our cut quality and process speed. Furthermore, the implementation of Position Synchronized Output (PSO), has shown that even greater process speeds and cut finishes can be achieved when integrated into our standard laser tube cutting platforms.

Adding a fully synchronized tilt to our laser head has made it possible for Okay to laser cut off-axis features along 3D geometries such as spherical or elliptical closed end tubes. Not only has this given us expanded capabilities in processing increasingly complex geometries, but access to market segments related to shavers for ear, nose, and throat (ENT) applications.

The introduction of picosecond laser marking technology results in matte black laser marks with superior contrast abilities under different lighting conditions. This picosecond laser mark creates a ripple structure on the nano-micro scale on the surface, which is effective in trapping light and creating a high contrast finish from the base metal.

Why do medical device OEMs come to you specifically for manufacturing partnerships?

Redi Nasto: Okay has built a reputation as experts and leaders in our field. We have built customer relationships not only through collaboration and open communication, but most importantly, through delivery and results.

The introduction of NexTech Labs, an R&D center within Okay with dedicated process experts and equipment, has provided Okay with the ability to support our customers during the conceptual stage. Having our customers reach out directly toAVNA ’s dedicated R&D process experts has been invaluable in streamlining our quick-turn prototype services. This early involvement collaboration has been pivotal and has provided the building blocks to customer partnerships.

Our customers rely on our manufacturing process expertise to provide guidance on the manufacturability of certain components and assemblies. As we go through the early supplier involvement phase, our goal is to share ideas and suggestions for potential design or process improvements that enhance the manufacturability of a part, streamline processes and methods, improving process controls and optimizing efficiencies, time to market, and cost reduction opportunities.

What steps do you take to ensure machine operators are properly trained and kept up to date on new manufacturing technologies?

Redi Nasto: Our R&D teams have regular internal meetings and presentations with our process engineers, specialists, setup technicians, and machine operators where we discuss new ideas, methods, and technologies.

The main areas for process improvement are primarily identified by team members on the floor who have direct, hands-on involvement with the manufacturing processes. Once that feedback is received, the R&D team explores different options, methods, and new technologies that can be implemented to further improve our manufacturing processes. Once the R&D team has researched, introduced, and developed a new process method or technology, it is reviewed by our process engineers, specialists, technicians, and machine operators. Special setup instructions and work instructions are then created and documented. Formal training of those documents is then completed and recorded in our ERP system. Articles, webinars, symposiums, etc. are other tools we use to educate a broader group of our team on the latest industry technology.

Do you employ ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies in your manufacturing process? If so, which ones and how do they ensure manufacturing excellence?

Redi Nasto: We are currently implementing process monitoring systems in our production equipment which will communicate with our ERP system items such as machine up/down time, efficiency rates, down time reasons, and overall OEE. The data communicated will be used to predict issues before they can ever occur, minimizing extended periods of downtime.

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