Medical Applications for Precision Laser Cutting
Health care is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. It’s a critical part of the global economy, and many areas are ripe for innovation. In this burgeoning market, it pays to be an early adopter. New materials demand improved manufacturing systems and expanded design possibilities. When these elements are in place, patient outcomes improve. That’s progress. Companies are developing next-generation medical devices, that use the latest fabrication techniques and precision laser cutting is leading this shift.
Advances in Medical Devices and Precision Laser Cutting
Major brands are embracing new technologies to stay on the cutting edge of their industries. These leaders attract more customers and create products that are several steps ahead of the competition. Innovation is occurring in many areas because experts are improving existing concepts and developing new ideas. Thanks to these evolving trends, demand for laser cutting is increasing dramatically.
Precision Laser Cutting Techniques
Today, medical devices often incorporate multiple laser manufacturing methods, including precision laser cutting, welding and drilling. Designs rely on powerful fiber lasers that cut accurately without damaging ultra-thin materials. Because lasers produce burr-free edges, refinishing is usually unnecessary. However, post-manufacturing surface treatments can increase the product’s biocompatibility and corrosion resistance. Flexibility and strength are critical for catheters, stents and other medical devices. Heat treatments improve these properties in surgical-grade alloys.
Laser Manufacturing Applications
Lasers carve stents and catheters from tubing with various diameters, wall thicknesses, lengths and densities. Engineers use shape-memory alloys and fiber lasers to create self-collapsing and self-expanding stents. Cardiovascular stents might be coated with pericardial tissue to reinforce weakened or damaged veins. Stents may also deliver and release drugs that help patients heal. Here are a few medical devices that are made with lasers.
- Angioplasty and coronary catheters
- Balloon catheters
- Biliary stents
- Biopsy and ablation devices
- Cardiovascular stents
- Carotid stents
- Devices used in cosmetic procedures
- Drug-delivery stents
- Endoscopic and laparoscopic instruments
- Neurovascular stents
- Peripheral stents
- Surgical instruments
- Tissue-covered stents
Quality Management Certifications for Medical Devices
When designing and manufacturing medical devices, safety and quality are of the utmost importance. Patients and surgeons depend on well-made instruments and implants during invasive procedures. The International Organization for Standards (ISO) has specific criteria for companies that are certified in precision laser cutting, laser welding, heat treatments and surface finishing as well as medical device assembly. The most important quality management standards for organizations in the industry are ISO 9001 and ISO 13485.
ISO 9001 is a general quality management standard. To earn this certification for specific products and services, organizations must demonstrate their ability to meet relevant regulatory requirements and apply robust quality assurance systems that enhance customer satisfaction.
ISO 13485 certifications show that organizations have demonstrated their ability to consistently provide medical devices and related services that meet customer specifications and strict quality standards.
The Future of Precision Laser Cutting
Precision laser cutting is ideal for manufacturing medical devices, such as stents and catheters, which have complex 3-D geometries. These manufacturing methods cut precisely without damaging ultra-thin materials. Laser-powered cutting systems maximize the qualities of shape-memory alloys, braided tubes and multi-density materials. Plus, the process is ideal for low- and high-volume production runs. Due to these many advantages, laser manufacturing will remain at the forefront as innovative medical procedures and devices are used more often within the health care industry.