ATM circumferential printing for drug-delivery devices

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Manufacturing components for use within a medical environment or application requires particular attention to detail and adherence to the industry’s strict specifications and standards. These principles apply to all processes used to manufacture a part, including printing the graduated markings on devices used to dispense or inject drugs. Collaboration between ATM Automation and a UK medical device manufacturer has led to the development of a fully automated product for high-accuracy, high-clarity circumferential printing on a range of drug-delivery components.

The medical and health care industries use a wide range of drug-delivery devices, many of which require the application or printing of graduated markings to allow precise dosage measurement. It is essential that these graduations are produced with high levels of accuracy, repeatability and clarity to ensure consistency when being used.

With a wide range of polymers being used within the industry and a number of different printing techniques available, it is essential that the correct combination of materials, pre-treatment and printing processes are selected to achieve the marking quality and durability required for different applications. Following a review of specific requirements for this application ATM chose a combination of HF Corona Treatment and Pad Printing.

Equally important as the choice of technologies for marking is the need to ensure consistent print orientation and registration. For these particular components, precise radial orientation was required and this was achieved using a closed loop system, comprising a laser sensor and servo positioning system. Once set, the radial orientation is maintained during printing using a precision clamping and support mechanism. This combination of technologies enables print registration tolerances of better than 0.4 degrees radially and 0.3mm longitudinally.

Following printing, each part is subsequently checked using a machine vision system to verify both correct print and print quality, with any parts deemed as reject being segregated.

ATM’s rotary machine concept adheres to GAMP guidelines with the vibratory part-feeding systems poly-lined to reduce the possibility of surface scratching. Where the part is being handled or located, all tooling uses minimum contact principles.

The machine design and concept also adheres to ATM’s philosophy of future proofing automation, using a series of change parts on the feeding and rotary indexing systems to enable the machine to be used on other similar part types within the product range.

For further information about high-accuracy, high-clarity circumferential printing please email , or visit the ATM website at

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