CNC machining, in its many forms, is one of the most versatile of all conventional manufacturing processes. This versatility extends to the types of parts that can be made, the material from which they are made and the volumes produced.
Using conventional CNC milling and turning, parts can be made for medical products very quickly and inexpensively and in unlimited amounts. Let’s take a closer look at the top 7 benefits of using CNC machining to make medical products and why you might want to consider this for your next product development project.
1. CNC machining requires no fixed tooling
Making a dedicated mold tool, such as would be used for plastic injection molding, can take an additional 3 to 4 weeks of production lead time. This includes not only making the mold, but also approving samples and optimizing the molding parameters. This added time and development cost is perfectly reasonable for larger orders. But for small production runs or even for single one-off parts, it’s hard to beat CNC machining for quick turnaround and minimal investment.
2. There are no volume restrictions
Once a digital CAD file has been made, a cutting program can be generated from that file very quickly. This coding program can then be used to make a single part or any multiples of parts at the push of a button. This is a great advantage when making single use or one-off custom parts which is often the case for highly specialized medical appliances, equipment, prosthetics and other medical or surgical products. Other processes demand minimum order volumes in order to secure the necessary raw materials, which might make some projects unfeasible.
3. CNC machining works with many materials
This means that, with a few exceptions, standard CNC machines are capable of working with the most common rigid materials used for medical or surgical appliances, tools and end-use parts. These include stainless and mild steels, aluminum, titanium and engineering-grade plastics like PEEK.
4. CNC machining is fast
Depending upon the complexity of the medical part, transitioning from a digital CAD file to a finished product might take only a matter of hours. This would be useful in a medical emergency situation when it’s difficult or impossible to predict in advance the kinds of supplies that might be needed at a moment’s notice. This has recently been clearly demonstrated by the sudden need for personal protective equipment brought on by the rapid and unexpected spread of the novel coronavirus.
5. CNC machines can be portable and local
Large industrial CNC machines take up a lot of floor space in a factory when manufacturing is highly centralized, and there are sometimes very good reasons for doing this.
But there are also small portable CNC machines that can fit on a desktop. Such CNC machines may be a bit limited in capacity, but they are more than capable of making simple parts, appliances, fixtures, jigs and other needed medical or surgical components. Their small size and modest power requirements are ideal for medical emergencies or isolated rural communities that may not have access to full-service hospitals.
6. CNC machined parts have tight tolerances
Many sophisticated medical devices require very tight tolerances. This is easy to achieve on quality CNC machines. Surface finishes are typically excellent, requiring very little post-processing. This again saves time and money, but that is not the critical issue. The important point about medical products and related equipment especially is that they must be fit for purpose and any deviation in specifications could spell disaster. Digital machining reduces this risk to a minimum.
7. Digital CAD files are portable and flexible
Digital manufacturing allows product designers, medical specialists and manufacturing professionals to transfer digital programs from one location to another quickly and easily. This technology greatly enhances the ability of CNC machining to provide specialty medical equipment solutions where and when they are needed most without regard to geographical location.
Want to know more about CNC machining for medical and surgical products?
Star Rapid is fully compliant with many ISO certifications, including ISO 13485. Our manufacturing professionals are here to offer a complete design for manufacturing review when you contact us for a free quotation on medical devices or your other critical projects.