When it comes to manufacturing components for the medical sector, precision is critical. Be it medical instruments like ultrasound equipment, catheters, or MRI scanners, medical equipment, diagnostic equipment, or biomedical implants, CNC (computer numerical control) machines can be used to deliver highly-precise final products.
When CNC machines were first invented, they were used to automate manufacturing processes in order to reduce the risk of human error and improve production.
Today, CNC machines are used beyond the manufacturing industry. When it comes to the medical sector, CNC machines are used to manufacture all kinds of medical equipment that can be used for a number of different purposes, including artificial joints, dentistry, and surgical equipment. For medical equipment manufacturers, this is a great way to reduce cost, boost reproducibility, and ensure high precision.
What is CNC Machining?
According to Wikipedia, a CNC machine processes a piece of material to meet specifications by following a coded programmed instruction and without a manual operator.
Defined as a machining system that is controlled via a computer, CNC machining allows manufacturers to automate many processes that would have to be performed manually.
It is widely recognized for producing parts with greater durability and accuracy than other machine processes that involve manual input. As a result, CNC machines boost productivity, reduce waste, and lower the risk of human error.
CNC machinery is experiencing such rapid growth due to the need to:
- Decrease operating costs and improve the efficiency of mass production
- Avoid errors in manufacturing
- Use manpower more efficiently
- Adopt automation and ensure quality
In the last few years, the number of production facilities adopting CNC machines has grown, and by 2025, the global CNC machine market is expected to reach nearly $100.86 billion in value, growing at an annual rate of more than 7% from 2019 to 2025.
This growth is expected to continue in multiple sectors, including aerospace, government, telecommunications, electronics, pharmaceutical, medical, packaging, food processing, and general manufacturing.
But there are several different types of CNC machines, each of which has its own unique functions: CNC milling machine, CNC plasma cutting machine, CNC lathe machine, CNC laser cutting machine, CNC electric discharge machine, etc.
CNC machining can be a perfect solution for product developers who need high-quality parts. Here are some of its most important advantages:
- Speed – CNC machining can turn raw materials into finished parts in a matter of hours.
- Accuracy – CNC machines are very precise and accurate, making parts to tolerances of .05 or better.
- Works with different materials – CNC machines are able to work with many kinds of metals like stainless steel and titanium, as well as plastic substrates.
- Easy to modify – CNC machining has digital instructions the alteration of which is simple and takes a few minutes.
How Can CNC Machining Be Used in the Medical Sector?
As mentioned earlier, the medical sector requires uncompromising precision, consistency, and quality. Any failure to comply with the established medical standards could result in serious problems to the patient. This is especially true for surgical equipment where lives depend on accurate machines, as well as for parts implanted in patients. As CNC machines allow for precise part imitation, medical implants can now be designed with fewer manufacturing limitations.
Hip replacement is one of the procedures that have been significantly improved by CNC machining. Although hip replacement surgery is quite common and usually successful, there are some issues with the conventional hip replacement parts. Namely, as people are living longer and more active lives, hip replacements tend to wear out sooner. Even the tiniest error in the machining of a replacement implant can cause discomfort for the patient, resulting in a second procedure. When done right, CNC machining can produce highly-durable components that fit ideally.
Another medical field that benefits from CNC machining is dentistry. Dentists usually have to create highly accurate dental implants that fit the patient perfectly. CNC machines can be programmed to get the exact dimensions of the tooth crowns, aligners, and dental veneers to make sure the final product fits the patient’s mouth ideally and causes minimal discomfort.
The medical sector uses complex machinery and when it comes to manufacturing parts, there’s no room for error. All parts need to be high-quality, durable, and with a smooth finish. CNC machines achieve just that as they operate on multiple axes. Moreover, complicated designs can be manufactured on a larger scale, which makes them suitable for mass manufacturing.
Benefits of Medical CNC Machining
The medical industry greatly benefits from the efficiency, speed, and accuracy of CNC machining. Medical devices aren’t only improving the quality and length of people’s lives but they’re also saving them.
Technology and science have allowed for numerous innovations in the medical field and today, people expect cutting edge equipment as part of their healthcare services.
Luckily manufacturers who offer CNC machining services can meet patients’ demands.
What makes these manufacturers so important is their ability to design and produce small-scale components and parts, use a variety of materials, and assemble parts with a fast turnaround. In addition, CNC machines help increase production tempo and reduce costs, giving businesses the flexibility to work with almost any material. The manufactured parts can be for medical instruments, components, devices, replacement joints, or even for medical researchers working in the biomedical industry.
As a result, CNC machines increase productivity, reduce or eliminate the risk of human error, and reduce waste.