Precise Machining In Medical Applications

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Precise Machining In Medical Applications - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Modern CNC machining, under the watchful eye of skilled machinists, can reliably meet extreme tolerance and consistency requirements that would not be achievable through traditional means. This makes precision machining incredibly valuable in a variety of industries.

This is certainly true when it comes to medical applications, where there is absolutely no room for inaccuracies. Unsurprisingly, there is a high demand for this level of machining in the medical field for both immediate patient implementation as well as for research and medical equipment & machinery purposes.

doctors use machined tools

Quality, Consistency, and Innovation

Until recently, we could only try our best to mimic the mechanics of human joints. The ability of CNC machines to simultaneously operate multiple axes has allowed medical design engineers to change that.

Since CNC machining allows for precision part replication and consistency in even the most complex geometries and surface designs, medical implants and devices can now be designed with few manufacturing limitations. This also encourages quicker innovations in the medical industry.

Accuracy and consistency is crucial for every single part delivered. Medical products must adhere to stringent quality standards and any failure to adhere to these standards can create serious problems for the recipient. Even when it comes to items like surgical instruments, they must meet exacting requirements, including that it needs to "feel right” in a surgeon’s hands.

Quite literally, lives and livelihoods depend on quality machining of both the instruments used in surgery as well as parts implanted in patients, not to mention the supporting medical equipment where reliability is paramount.

Prime Example: Hip Replacements

One procedure that has been greatly improved upon through precision machining is hip replacement. Though the surgery itself is often successful, there are some issues with traditional replacement parts. With people living longer and more active lives, hip replacements are wearing out sooner. 

While it may be a fairly commonplace procedure, getting a hip replacement surgery is still a big event for patients. The process is highly invasive, and the recovery is often long and painful. The tiniest of error in the machining of a hip replacement component can cause the procedure to be unsuccessful in the first place -- or can cause ongoing issues for the patient. Even a slight aberration on the surface of a hip implant could cause terrible pain and discomfort for a patient, and would likely necessitate a second surgery. 

Quality precision machining, done right, can produce implants that fit better and last longer while alleviating this concern.


A Smooth Finish

It is often critically important that medical components possess extremely smooth and defect free surface finishes. This can be is achieved in a number of ways. Skilled programmers and machinists have many learned techniques for producing excellent surface finishes on CNC machining equipment. Often certain surface finish specifications must have secondary operations such as hand finishing, polishing, electroplating, anodizing, and many other specialty coatings can be applied to produce the desired finishes and surface characteristics.

Quality CNC precision machining has carved out a very important place for itself in the medical manufacturing industry. Medical machine shops work every day to improve the quality and consistency of machined medical tools and devices to give doctors their best chance at performing successful, expedient procedures. 

Modern precision machining advancements help quicken the pace of innovation in the world of medical devices, implants and tools. Take note of the complexity of various machined components and equipment parts you see around you the next time you are in a doctor’s office or medical center. You will likely gain a new respect for the manufacturers and machinists you know.


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