Advancements in medical technology are fuelled by different manufacturing processes and breakthroughs. One excellent example of this comes in the form of CNC machining, which has itself undergone extensive evolution in recent years.
So what exactly is CNC machining, and how does it apply to healthcare in an era when the industry is changing rapidly already?
What are CNC machines?
CNC stands for computer numerical control, and is basically a system by which manufacturing equipment can be operated automatically, rather than requiring human workers to control the movement of tooling manually.
A wide variety of equipment falls under the CNC banner, from mills and lathes to laser cutters and even 3D printers. And because of this diversity, it’s possible to produce components of all shapes and sizes using almost every conceivable material, from metals and glass to plastics and composites.
What is more, thanks to marketplaces like Revelation Machinery and CNC machines in their collection, acquiring second hand units at affordable prices is an option. This in turn means that even medical industry startups have a means of leveraging this technology, rather than being prevented by prohibitive prices for new gear.
The advantages of ultimate precision
The main benefit of using CNC production techniques in a healthcare context is that they are capable of meeting the tight tolerances that are required when working on medical apparatuses which need to be compact and incredibly reliable.
For example, being able to machine parts for medical implants, such as pacemakers, rather than having to rely on older manufacturing techniques, not only delivers better outcomes for patients, but also means that there is less waste associated with the production process itself.
Precision also has a part to play in terms of the shapes that can be created. Certain setups and tooling maneuvers simply cannot be replicated manually, and yet the exacting control that is achieved through CNC machining makes this a breeze.
Then there’s the material element. We already touched on the range of materials which can be manipulated using CNC equipment, but it’s also worth noting that this is possible in cases where the material might otherwise be tricky or even unsafe to work with. Dealing with titanium for the production of skeletal implants, for example, is an option thanks to the emergence of modern CNC machinery.
The possibility for portability
Another perk of CNC equipment in the medical industry, as well as in other commercial areas, is that it is surprisingly scalable. So while huge pieces of machinery are available for large scale production facilities, there are also smaller units which are more portable and can be justifiably used on-site at healthcare centers and associated businesses.
This portability means that when specialized, bespoke parts need to be produced, there is no need to rely on outsourcing this to a third party. This lessens costs and also reduces lead times, which is good for patients as well.
The role of shareability
For a CNC machine to produce a component from a workpiece, it needs a CAD file from which instructions for the movement of the tooling can be interpreted.
This in turn means that files created for medical components can be shared and distributed to wherever they are needed, as well as being entirely adaptable to suit the purpose of the end user.
As such, CNC technology has a dramatic influence over the global healthcare sector and has allowed organizations to overcome many of the limitations of the past. With new developments emerging annually, it will continue to plow an important furrow in the medical world and beyond.