When Computer Numerical Control (CMC) machining is applied to the medical industry, it needs to deliver high precision.
Whether this concerns medical instruments like ultrasound equipment and catheters, MRI scanners, biomedical implants, or diagnostic equipment, CNC machines have to deliver high-quality, precise products.
The use of CNC machining in the medical industry is ultimately to speed up patient recovery, reduce human error, and improve accuracy.
But to do this, the medical industry needs to ensure the machines are of the highest quality. This includes having an epoxy granite CNC frame or casting.
That said, this article aims to look at CNC applications in the medical industry. We have lots to cover, so let’s get started.
What Are CNC Machines?
Before studying how CNC machining aids the medical industry, it’s essential to understand a thing or two about CNC machines. This will help us outline the benefits of using these machines in the medical industry.
CNC machining, or Computer Numerical Control, is a manufacturing process where pre-programmed computer software dictates the movements of:
- Factory equipment
They consist of different:
- Multi-axis milling
- Electric discharge machining variants
…to achieve the desired geometric result. When a CNC system is activated, the actions programmed into the software dictate the tools and machinery that carry out tasks. Think of it a bit like a robot.
Programmers write and edit CNC programming, which gives these machines a more expansive computational capacity.
Essentially, CNC machines can process materials to meet the specifications programmed into them- without a manual operator. For example, this means you can manufacture medical instruments automatically.
Using such methods tends to produce greater accuracy thanks to a lower risk of human error.
Not to mention, it reduces waste and produces more durable products. Building a solid frame or base for machinery can be a daunting task. The base needs to be stiff, strong, accurate, and, very importantly, absorb vibrations.
Unfortunately, though a metal frame satisfies factors such as stiffness, strength, and potentially mechanical accuracy, it’s abysmal at absorbing vibrations. The industry grows fast and if, for example, before cast iron was considered the best solution, now the epoxy granite CNC frame seems to outstand other alternatives.
Medical Industry Applications
As we’ve already said, CNC machining and epoxy granite machine bases ate the favored choice in the medical industry. So let’s look at some example applications:
An important use for CNC machining is making bodily implants. For instance, it can create hip replacements and knee implants. Medical implants need to be produced in small quantities.
This means processes like injection molding wouldn’t be cost-effective. CNC machining, however, can use tools repeatedly, which means they don’t affect production costs.
Medical implants are made using various metals or plastics, such as titanium or PEEK, making CNC compatible with a wide range of materials.
Some of the common medical implants CNC machines produce are:
- Spine implants
- Hip implants
- Knee implants
Common materials used for machined medical implants are:
- Titanium alloys
- PEEK (Polyarylethe-ether ketone)
- Stainless steel (for temporary implants)
- Cobalt-chrome alloys
Now, let’s take a look at the next application on our list:
CNC machining is not just for creating bodily implants; it’s also excellent at creating surgical instruments used by medical professionals in everyday use or during procedures such as operations.
These surgical instruments can include biopsy tubes, scissors, cutters, forceps, blade handles, implant holders, spaces, clamps, plate benders, saws, etc.
CNC machining can produce these items with great care and precision and must be subjected to additional safety requirements such as sterilization.
Common materials used for surgical instruments include stainless steel (mainly surgical steel) and titanium alloys.
As the name implies, CNC machines can be used to make tiny medical parts. These small parts include implantable devices, drug-delivery technologies, exploratory surgical tools, etc.
CNC machines can deliver high sophistication and accuracy in small, small sizes, as it specializes in accuracy, and many machines can create components that are well under 50 microns.
Common micromachined medical parts:
- Drug delivery systems
- Pacemaker parts
- Ophthalmic devices
Now let’s turn our attention to applications in the dentistry:
Dentists also have to work with highly accurate instruments and create precise components for their patients like other medical professionals. Again, let’s take the example of dental implants.
CNC machines can be programmed to the exact dimensions of the tooth crowns, aligners, and dental veneers to guarantee that the final product fits the patient’s mouth and reduces discomfort.
CNC machining can allow dental technicians to create things such as crowns and dentures in minutes, rather than the lengthy amount of time it would have taken before.
In fact, many in this industry use CNC machining primarily for dental restorations.
Typical dentistry applications include:
- Full dentures
- Dental bars and custom abutments
- Crown and bridge application
- Bite splint/mouth guards
These are just a few examples, but you get the gist.