Since its inception in 1970, Aerotech has become a strong partner in the medical industry. Its ever-expanding portfolio includes laser welding and stent cutting solutions, as well as tailored motion control and systems that increase productivity while maintaining maximum accuracy. Over the years, Aerotech has become a leading supplier of motion control systems for the manufacture of interventional cardiovascular devices, such as implants.
"Aerotech's commitment to quality and performance has always been perfectly tailored to the needs and requirements of the medical industry. So it was natural for us to focus more on this industry,"says William Land, head of business development at Aerotech, Inc. and head of medical devices. "Even more than other industries, medical technology requires a deep technical understanding of manufacturing applications and requirements." Constantly working closely with our partners and customers gives us the industry knowledge we need to provide valuable and scalable automation solutions to medical equipment manufacturers for nearly 50 years,"he adds.
Above all, it is a question of understanding more precisely the needs but also the evolutions of the market. Another important task is to keep abreast and closely observe developments in medical technologies that the industry is focusing on. "We always have to ask ourselves what evolutions in manufacturing and capabilities we ourselves need to achieve these medical technologies,"continues William Land.
Accurate laser processing at maximum speed
In the field of manufacturing interventional cardiovascular devices, Aerotech has been a leading supplier of motion control systems for many years. "We manufacture custom-made compact linear and rotary servo systems that are essential for the manufacture of stents and many other transcatheter devices and their delivery systems," explains William Land. Our mature technology enables accurate 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 handling functions with direct-drive linear and rotary movements. "Because of the throughput offered by a truly integrated design, medical device manufacturers need fewer machines to produce the same number of stents compared to conventional production methods,"says William Land about the advantages. However, thanks to its flexibility, vascuLathe can also be used, for example, to meet an increased and variable production demand on the existing production fleet.
As a complete movement and handling subsystem, VascuLathe includes a set of automated, pneumatically activated ER clamps and an optional combined socket/tube feeding mechanism. This allows the sequential and fully automated production of various products from tubes of all lengths. In addition, a wet cutting configuration is available for applications that require a coolant during the cutting process.
Advanced control architecture
As a platform, the VascuLathe is available with a powerful, simple and intuitive Aerotech controller. Users can optimize current, speed and position servo loops for maximum performance without heavy programming. Additional features such as the multi-block "Look Ahead" for trajectory generation minimize geometry errors, even on the smallest spokes, by "anticipating" the cutting speed. With the "Position Synchronized Output" (PSO) function, laser pulses can be controlled in relation to position in order to maintain optimal adaptation of laser power to variable cutting speeds.
Innovations for the entire sector
"As experienced automation developers and partners, we can keep pace with very short innovation cycles in this industry," said Simon Smith, Aerotech's European Director. This constructive and future-oriented eye-level cooperation is highly appreciated by our customers. The stent manufacturing solution is also just a continuation of the high-performance motion systems and components that have a proven track record in medical technology and life science applications.
Other examples of medical technology solutions include stent cutting, guide wire 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 priorities is to provide the level of integration that the customer needs. "Many medical OEMs have automation and machine assemblies in-house or have preferred integration partners,"says Land. At Aerotech, we are considered the first point of contact and experts in precision motion control subsystems. In other cases, medical OEMs are looking for a partner to help them manufacture the complete manufacturing cell for a specific process. "We are able to produce fully integrated machines and manufacturing systems for particular application areas,"says William Land. In any case, we ensure that the systems we have in service with our customers, whether components, subsystems or complete machines, operate at full capacity and provide high-quality results. »
Simon Smith concluded: "Cardiovascular manufacturers gain a competitive advantage in the highly competitive medical device manufacturing market through our high-precision motion systems and components."
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Precise laser micromachining is especially required in the field of medical technology. The AGV3D laser scanner is optimally designed for this, but it is also used for additive processes.