Greater efficiency in the manufacture of cardiovascular products
Aerotech, manufacturer of motion control and positioning systems, has developed into a strong partner of the medical industry, becoming one of the main suppliers of motion control systems for the manufacture of interventional cardiovascular devices, such as implants.
"Aerotech's commitment to quality and performance has always been a perfect fit for the needs and requirements of the medical industry,” says William Land, business development manager for Aerotech and responsible for medical devices. “So, it was natural for us to focus more on this industry."
Deeper technical understanding
Even more than other industries, medical technology requires a deeper technical understanding of the applications and manufacturing requirements. "Working closely with partners and customers on an ongoing basis gives us the industry insight we need to provide valuable, future-proof automation solutions to medical OEMs for nearly 50 years," he adds.
First and foremost, it is a matter of understanding the needs and developments of the market more precisely. Another important task is to keep up to date and closely observe which medical technology developments the industry is focusing on. "We must always ask ourselves what manufacturing and capability developments we ourselves need, in order to realise these medical technologies," Land continues.
Precise laser processing at maximum speed
In the field of interventional cardiovascular device manufacturing, Aerotech is one of the main suppliers of motion control systems and has been for many years. "We manufacture custom-built linear and compact rotary servo systems that are critical to the manufacture of stents and many other transcatheter devices and their delivery systems," he explains. "Our mature technology enables precise laser processing of catheters and stents at speeds that make them economical for the market."
Fewer machines for the same number of stents
For example, the fully integrated VascuLathe motion system combines automated material handling functions with direct-drive linear and rotary motion. "Because of the throughput a truly integrated design offers, medical device manufacturers need fewer machines to produce the same number of stents compared to conventional production methods," Land says of the benefits. However, due to its flexibility, the VascuLathe can also be used, for example, to meet an increased and varying production demand on the existing production area.
Automated material handling
As a complete motion and material handling subsystem, VascuLathe includes an automated, pneumatically activated ER collet assembly and an optional combined bushing/tube feed mechanism. This enables the sequential, fully automated production of various products from tube material of any length. Furthermore, a wet cutting configuration is available for applications that require cooling fluid during the cutting process.
Advanced control architecture
As a platform, the VascuLathe is available with what is said to be a powerful, yet simple and intuitive, Aerotech controller. Users can optimise current, speed and position servo loops for maximum performance without much programming. Additional functions, such as ‘Multiblock-Look Ahead’ for generating paths, minimise geometry errors even at the smallest radii by ‘anticipating’ the cutting speed. With the ‘Position Synchronized Output’ (PSO) function, laser pulses can be controlled synchronously, in order to maintain optimal laser power coupling at variable cutting speeds.
Innovations for the entire industry
"As experienced developers and automation partners, we can keep pace with the very short innovation cycles in the industry," emphasises Simon Smith, European director Aerotech. "This future-oriented, constructive cooperation at eye level is very much appreciated by our customers." The stent manufacturing solution is also merely a continuation of the successful high-performance motion systems and components for medical technology and life science applications.
Other examples from the medical technology solution range include stent, guidewire, and catheter cutting, pacemaker and catheter laser welding systems, intraocular lens (IOL) and contact lens manufacturing, DNA and blood sequencing, X-ray machines, MRI scanners and CAT scanners.
One of Aerotech's focuses is to provide exactly as much integration as the customer needs. "Many medical OEMs have in-house automation and machine assemblies or preferred integration partners," specifies William Land. "At Aerotech, we are considered the first point of contact and subject matter experts for precision motion control subsystem integration in this regard. "
In other cases, medical OEMs were looking for a partner to help them manufacture the entire manufacturing cell for a specific process. "We are able to produce fully integrated machines and manufacturing systems for individual application areas," assures William Land. "In every case, we ensure that the systems we have in operation at our customers' facilities, whether individual components or complete machines, operate at full capacity and deliver high-quality results. "