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All Medical Articles

Fabricating Success at Clinton Industries

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson


With rising material costs, government regulations, and customers resisting price increases, today there is no room for waste in the metal fabrication supply chain. Here's how one medical OEM partnered with a custom metal fabricator to improve efficiencies.
Full Article

Welding Aids Freezing for Zeltiq

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson


When the medical device manufacturer Zeltiq had trouble producing its revolutionary new fat-freezing product for the “CoolSculpting” process, they brought it to Electron Beam Engineering Inc. (EBE), for a simplified design and an improved welding process. Full Article

3D Systems Introduces Two Medical Training Modules

Senior Editor Bill Koenig


3D Systems said it’s introducing two new training modules for the company’s Simbionix Arthro Mentor training simulator. The Rock Hill, SC-based company said in a statement it’s coming out with a hip diagnostics module and a knee module. The 3D virtual reality training models are intended to improve surgical preparedness and planning for complex orthopedic procedures. Full Article

What’s Next in Grinding?

Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster


Many precision grinding machines on the market already offer their users near-perfect tolerances, leaving one to wonder: What’s next in grinding? But tool builders still have plenty of room to add valuable new improvements, machine shop owners say. Full Article

Small Improvements in Medical

Contributing Editor Ilene Wolff


Medical device maker Donna Bibber put a client’s invention—a one-dose powder medication inhaler—on her web site hoping it might attract a pharmaceutical company interested in acquiring it.After all, she said, her takeaway from a recent pharmaceutical show is that drug manufacturers are trying to eke out more revenue from medications with expiring patents by reintroducing them in new delivery systems. Full Article

Bioprinting: 3D Printing Comes to Life

Anthony Atala and James Yoo, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine


3D printing is driving innovation in many areas, from engineering and manufacturing to art and education. The technology is also being broadly applied in medicine—from printing prosthetic limbs to making patient-specific models of body parts that surgeons use as guides during reconstructive surgery. Full Article

Part Inspection Speeds Up at Triangle Manufacturing

Ken Gredick, Engineering Manager, Triangle Manufacturing Co.


Triangle Manufacturing Co. was established in 1955 by William F. Strohmeyer and two other enterprising engineers in a suburban New Jersey garage. It’s grown steadily over three generations to become a leading provider of highly complex, tight tolerance surgical implants, medical instruments and powered hand tools. Full Article

Emuge Introduces Comprehensive Tooling Program for Threading Demanding Titanium Alloys

Press Release - Emuge Corp.


Today, Emuge Corp. ( announced they are introducing a comprehensive line of high-performance tools for threading demanding alloyed Titanium materials. Ranging from taps with unique new geometry designs to solid carbide thread mills, the new program provides solutions for the most demanding titanium challenges such as in Aerospace, Defense and Medical machining applications. Full Article

Rising Sons at Micro Mold and Plastikos

Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


The Erie, Pennsylvania companies Micro Mold and Plastikos make highly engineered precision parts for an ever more demanding client base in the medical and other industries. Both companies also have reputations as great places to work. The companies’ success is directly related to the culture of each workplace, according to their CEOs—who are themselves directly related. Full Article

Workaday Metrology

Contributing Editor Bruce Morey


The trend to place more accurate metrology devices on the shop floor continues. One reason is the evolution of the metrology devices themselves. They are getting faster, more rugged, and smaller. Matching the means is motivation. Manufacturers want to understand quickly what is happening in production, rather than wait for results of parts transported to a quality lab. Full Article

Enabling Long-Winded Speech

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson from information provided by Morgan Advanced Materials


New speech valve implant with high-purity zirconia lasts eight times longer than traditional silicon. Here's how it was made. Morgan Advanced Materials worked with the University of Hull (Hull, UK) to develop a new valve used to restore vocal function for patients with throat cancer. The new tracheo-oesophageal fistula speech valve uses Zyranox biocompatible yttria partially-stabilized zirconia, specifically developed for surgical implant devices. Full Article

Medical Manufacturing Without the Manual

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson from information provided by Mazak


Lowell Inc., a medical contract manufacturer in Minneapolis, sometimes ignores part machining cycle times, and instead focuses its attention on overall throughput speed. In its current state, the shop could immediately reduce several of its machining cycle times by half, but doing so would add significant amounts of manual processing to the equation. Full Article

Injecting Quality at MGS Ireland

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson from information provided by Hexagon Metrology


Liffey Park Technology Campus in Leixlip, County Kildare, stands less than one mile away from the original (circa 1759) brewing location for the most famous of Irish exports—Guinness beer. Over 250 years later, the site is now home to several hi-tech companies, including the Ireland Headquarters of Hewlett-Packard (HP). Full Article

Partmaking for People

Teun van Asten, Engineer Marketing Services, Solid Milling, Seco Tools


The manufacturing of medical components must meet standards of accuracy, reliability, quality, and traceability that equal and sometimes exceed those required for aerospace and nuclear parts. In addition, global competition and efforts to restrain health care expense create great pressure to maximize productivity and reduce manufacturing costs. Full Article

3D Printing Used to Make Prototype Artificial Hand

Senior Editor Bill Koenig


YouBionic, an Italian startup company, has turned to 3D printing as part of its efforts to develop a lower-cost artificial hand.Companies have sought to produce prosthetic hands that look and operate like the real thing. The goal is something like Luke Skywalker’s robotic hand depicted at the end of the Star Wars movie The Empire Strike Back. Full Article

R&J Manufacturing: Small, but Sophisticated

Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster


R&J Manufacturing, a small and thriving machine shop in the Greater Los Angeles area, was founded by Mike Jones and John Woloshun about eight years ago, somewhat by happenstance. Co-founder Mike Jones, who had worked for years in machining, was a gun enthusiast who liked to shoot air guns as a hobby, the kind of guns that usually sell for under $100 with major retailers and are made of plastic and metal. Full Article

Medical Mold Masters

Edited by Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


When entering the lobby of Custom Mold & Design (CMD; Minneapolis, MN), the impressive display of precision injection-molded components is definitely eye-catching. A plaque that hangs nearby is also hard to miss. It reads, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of cheap price has been forgotten.” Full Article

CAD/CAM: A Peek at What's Nexxt

Edited by Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


Andy Elsbury, president of surgical-implant manufacturer Nexxt Spine (Noblesville, IN), recently received an urgent call from a surgeon with whom his company had never done business. It was a Thursday, and the surgeon was scheduled to perform a very difficult operation that would require a unique flat PEEK cervical spacer implant designed for a particular patient’s unusual cervical anatomy. Full Article

The Grind at Exactech

Edited by Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


Exactech Inc. continuously develops and produces some of the industry’s highest quality orthopedic implants that help ensure both patients and surgeons, according to the company’s business philosophy, have a “great day in the OR [operating room].” Full Article

EDM in Medical Manufacturing

Contributing Editor Ilene Wolff


“You guys are crazy!” That’s what Makino EDM product line manager Brian Pfluger was told—loudly—by a medical-industry customer after Pfluger recommended he use coated wire to make a custom housing for cancer treatment machines. Coated wire costs twice as much as uncoated, standard brass wire, so its use in the client’s application would increase manufacturing costs by about $100.
Full Article

Medical Machining with Advanced CNC

Randy Pearson, International Business Development Mgr., Drive Technologies, Siemens Industry Inc.


Critical machining demands are nothing new in medical part production. The industry has progressed at light speed, however, in its need for faster turnover, especially in the orthopedic arena, where the one-off is the standard, requiring very expensive machining centers to be used for hip joint or knee replacements that are unique to each patient. Full Article

MVP: Bringing Talent to the Medical Manufacturing Industry

Mike Grice, President, MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program


When I was leaving the Marines after spending 27 years in uniform I wasn’t exactly sure what came next. My time in the military had prepared me for many things, ranging from how to stand at attention to how to conduct a patrol in insurgent territory. What it didn’t really prepare me for, however, was what to do when for the last time I hung up the cloth of the nation and started over again as a civilian. Full Article

Helping Students Prepare for Future Careers

Edited by Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


They came by bus. They came by train. They spent hours commuting to Baxter’s facilities in Deerfield and Round Lake, IL—and for some it was one of their first opportunities to spend much time outside the urban Chicago neighborhoods where they grew up. But nearly all of them said it was one of the most enriching and confidence-building weeks of their lives. Full Article

3D Systems Acquires LayerWise

Press Release - 3D Systems


3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced today that it has acquired Belgium-based LayerWise, a leading provider of advanced direct metal 3D printing and manufacturing services. LayerWise delivers quick-turn, 3D-printed metal parts, manufactured on its own proprietary line of direct metal 3D printers, for aerospace, high-precision equipment and medical and dental customers.  Full Article

Solutions Come in Many Sizes and Shapes

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Manufacturers want to make parts and hit their schedules with a minimum of problems. Job shops, in particular, have their own need for a great deal of flexibility, enabling them to switch from one job to another with the minimum of wasted time. For medium volume, high mix production, manufacturers can benefit from the latest automation on multipallet single machines or in multiple machine cells. Full Article

TechFront: Ultra-Strong MRIs Show Promise for Neuroscience, Other Research

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


New ultra-strong, high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) full-body scanners under development by GE Healthcare (Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, UK) and Tesla Engineering UK (Pulborough, West Sussex, UK) will be used by researchers to speed detection and improve therapies for Parkinson’s disease and a host of other disorders. Full Article

Shop Solutions: Grinding Optics On CNC Machining Centers

Edited by Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


During the past decade, Optimax (Ontario, NY) has experienced exceptional growth due to the tremendous demand for specialized optics and lenses that it manufactures for a wide range of applications including: aerospace, defense and medical devices, lithography, and biomedical. Full Article

Focus on the Workforce: Engineering the Future for Women in Science

Anna Maria Chávez


With women poised to shape our economic future, and given the significance of STEM in today’s world, it’s more important than ever that we are preparing girls and young women with the skills they will need for a future in STEM. Full Article

Medical Metrology Finds the Best Fit

Contributing Editor Bruce Morey


Finding the best fit of device to part is especially significant for metrology companies with a diverse portfolio. That is the case for Mitutoyo (Aurora, IL), according to Allen Cius, their vision optics manager. The company offers over 6000 products, from hand calipers to horizontal arm CMMs that can measure objects the size of whole car bodies. Mitutoyo metrology capital equipment systems fit within three basic families of products: vision-based systems, form measurement machines, and CMMs. Full Article

Viewpoints: Medical Market Offers Challenges And Opportunities

Rajas Sukthankar, Director of Sales - Motion Control and Machine Tool Segment Manager, Siemens Industry Inc.


The production of medical implants involves an entire process chain, starting with the doctor and ending with the finished device. Doctors use the imaging data of a complex fracture, acquired with a CT scan, to select an appropriate implant and then position it in the fracture area of the patient on the computer. Of course, this is only possible if the implant geometries are stored in a database, and the doctor has implants in stock or can access them immediately from a manufacturer. Full Article

Plastics Flow into the Medical Device Industry

Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


Although the North American medical device industry continues to grow, its players are under an extraordinary number of constraints. FDA requirements top the list, of course, controlling what, how, and from what materials a device can be made. On top of that are cost pressures brought on by international competition, safety and sustainability concerns, and, finally, manufacturability issues. This is not a field for the timid. Full Article

New Technology in CNC Automatic Lathes Drives Higher Productivity

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


You don’t have to look too hard to find a Swiss-style CNC automatic lathe to productively machine precision parts for medical devices. Parts are typically 12–20" (305–508-mm) long, with length-to-diameter ratios of 12–15×, and machined from bar from 10 to 32-mm diameter. Outlier sizes down to 3 mm and up to 38 mm and even larger are available for specialized applications.  Full Article

Improving Laser Technologies Driving Big Changes in Little Stents

Contributing Editor Ilene Wolff


For about 20 years, medical device manufacturers have used continuous wave lasers to make permanent metal stents, first out of stainless steel and then out of alloys like nitinol and cobalt chrome. Doctors implant the devices to prop open blood vessels or help with other medical conditions.  But during the last two decades ultrafast, pulsed lasers have been perfected that can also produce stents made of polymers, which are bioplastics that dissolve in the body once they’ve done their job. Full Article

Hard Hips

Patrick Loughney, Product Specialist, Sandvik Coromant


Hip replacement surgery is currently the most common and most successful orthopedic operation in the United States. In 2013, more than 332,000 people traded in their painful hips for ceramic or metallic joints. And that number is rising steadily due to the needs of our aging population, innovative surgical techniques and recent material advancements. Full Article

Bioprinting: Science or Fiction?

Arif Sirinterlikci and Lauren Walk, Department of Engineering, Robert Morris University


Cornell University’s Lawrence Bonassar calls bioprinting the intersection of three technologies: tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and 3D printing. It’s the 3D printing of biological media for replacement of human tissue or biofriendly engineered materials such as scaffolds and drug release mechanisms for helping the healing process of human tissue. Full Article

A Pathway to Approval for Additive-Made Devices

Contributing Editor Ilene Wolff


Additive manufacturing is now producing all manner of medical devices, and new ideas for the process—ranging from printed surgical tools and bone replacements to human tissue—are coming from designers and engineers daily.Even the best idea, though, has little value in the United States unless the Food and Drug Administration gives its go-ahead for putting the device on the market. Full Article

Banner Medical Goes Long

Bill Norlander, Medical Product Specialist, Banner Medical


Planning for the future of the medical device industry through proactive quality assurance and supply chain management Full Article

Computer Aided Medical Manufacturing

Delcam North America


Three different CAM systems are making a difference at three separate device makers. Sutter Instrument, Chas. A. Blatchford & Sons, and High Point Precision Products each have different CAM needs, and have found an appropriate solution. Here’s a look at each company. Full Article

Hand Tools

Edited Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson from information supplied by Vero Software Group.


The VISI suite of CAD/CAM applications from Vero Software has been instrumental in helping a precision engineering company develop the world’s most advanced commercially available myoelectric prosthetic hand (i.e., one controlled by signals from voluntarily contracted muscles within a person’s residual limb) currently on the market. Full Article

Driving Medical Innovation with Additive Manufacturing

Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


EOS (Munich) and Innovative Medical Device Solutions (IMDS; Fort Worth, TX) announced a partnership in 2012 combining EOS’ expertise in direct metal laser-sintering (DMLS) systems, software and materials with IMDS’ experience as a full-service contractor for medical product development and manufacturing. Full Article

Smoothing the Path at CSS

Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS; Farmington, CT), a family owned and managed company with over 380 employees, is set on achieving certification under the ISO 13485 comprehensive management system for the design and manufacture of medical device components. Full Article

Reducing Time to Market Using CAM Systems

Vivek Govekar, CAMWorks R&D Head, Geometric Technologies


Traditional CAM systems are no longer suited to the fast-paced demands of the manufacturing industry and especially in the medical devices industry. The response time for delivering a medical device is critical. Efficiency and speed of delivery are of consequence in the quest of reducing the time to market. Full Article

Curing Clouds at Appasamy

Matt Bailey, Contributing Writer, Haas Automation Inc.


In India, cataracts are the most common cause of preventable blindness; one company in particular makes the equipment the country’s ophthalmologists rely on to treat the afflicted.   Full Article

Reimbursement Challenges for Medical Device Makers

Ilene Wolff, Contributing Editor


When medical device entrepreneur Kelvin Ning  started working in Silicon Valley 13 years ago, no one talked very much about reimbursement for new devices.“Just know what they [competitors] are charging for their device—and that’s what you’ll get,” he recalls his colleagues telling him.Then, three years ago, when the medical device company he worked for was having problems with reimbursement, Ning decided to school himself on the subject. Full Article

Trends & Themes in the Medical Device Market

Bryan Hughes and Matthew C. Smith, P&M Corporate Finance LLC


In previous editions of the SME Medical Manufacturing Yearbook, P&M Corporate Finance has provided commentary on a variety of market forces impacting medical device manufacturers, such as regulatory considerations, reimbursement, M&A and venture capital activity. This year’s article will touch on several of those same dynamics, with a focus on the 510(k) approval process and the 2.3% medical device tax, which went into effect on January 1, 2013. Full Article

Medical Implant OEMs Set Their Sights on Ceramics

Don Graham, Manager, Education & Technical Services, Seco Tools


Practically all of the major medical implant OEMs are actively pursuing, in one way or another, the viability of manufacturing various common implants from ceramic materials. Ceramics are perfect for implant use. They provide much higher levels of strength, wear resistance, smoothness and biocompatibility when compared with metals and polymers. Full Article

A 'Cure' for an In-Body Camera Housing Challenge

F. Brian Holmes, CMfgE, Vice President and General Manager, Columbia Plastics Ltd.


Medical manufacturing suppliers are expected to be able to innovate while maintaining required quality and safety standards. Quality controls are as important as nimble problem-solving abilities. Columbia Plastics, where we focus on injection molding, knows these challenges well, as the following example shows. Full Article

Drilling Small, Deep Holes with Precision EDM

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) has been removing metal by spark erosion for more than half a century—with sinker (ram/Elox-) style EDMing for molds and wire EDM for precision parts cutting, especially dies. A third type, EDM drilling, has emerged for precision holemaking in the smallest sizes, going beyond its use initially as an EDM “popper” for starting holes in hard metals. Full Article

Medical Manufacturing Growing in (Possibly) Unexpected Places

Lauralyn McDaniel, Industry Manager--Medical, Manager, Innovation Watch, MicroManufacturing, Medical Manufacturing Innovations, SME


You probably know that medical device manufacturing is complex, highly regulated, and driven by innovation with North America being the world leader in producing devices. You probably think the Los Angeles and Boston areas have the highest direct employment in medical device manufacturing, but are they? Full Article

Medical Parts Go Additive

Contributing Editor Bruce Morey


To a mechanical engineer, the human body is filled with perplexing shapes. Replacing its parts, or designing tools to operate on it, is a challenge. The body’s uneven, organic shapes are difficult to replicate with standard machine tools, which are more accustomed to cutting straight lines or drilling round holes. But additive manufacturing, which gives designers the freedom to create complex, organic shapes, seems a natural fit.   Full Article

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