The medical industry is one of the prime applications of waterjet cutting technology. While the application of waterjet cutting for medical industry isn’t as old as its other applications, the modern medical industry has significantly benefitted from this technology. This article will go through an in-depth analysis of waterjet cutting for medical applications.
Overview of Waterjet Cutting
Waterjet cutting technology uses the force of extremely high-pressure water (over 40,000 psi) to generate the cutting action. For cutting harder or thicker materials, abrasive particles are mixed with the water stream and the process is called abrasive waterjet cutting.
Besides the medical industry, waterjet cutting finds a number of applications in the automotive industry, defense industry, agriculture industry, aerospace industry, and many other sectors.
How Does Waterjet Cutting Help the Medical Industry?
Waterjet technology is used in several areas of the healthcare industry, from medical devices to surgical equipment and prosthetics. Waterjet is a highly hygienic technology with several benefits that turn out to be very useful for sensitive areas of medical applications.
What are the Medical Materials That a Waterjet Can Cut?
Waterjet machines are well-known for their versatility when it comes to the range of materials they can cut. They carry this quality in the medical sector as well, working on a wide range of materials to make life-saving equipment. Some of the materials that they handle in this regard are:
Titanium alloys are common biomaterials used for their high strength and elongation. Waterjet-cut titanium is used for making equipment that finds application in bone bonding, dental implants, cardiovascular devices, and more.
Steel has tremendous and varied use in the healthcare sector. From making frames of hospital beds and wheelchairs to surgical equipment such as knives, steel is used in every segment of medical science. There are many different types of steel used for this purpose, including stainless steel, carbon steel, and more. Waterjet can cut each of these different types of steel with ease.
Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC, is used for making medical device bodies, tubes, blood bags, and many other things. With waterjet cutting, it is possible to cut highly thick sheets of PVC with ease. It also makes the unbreakable bottles used widely in the healthcare field.
Glass is a common material for making test tubes, specimen bottles, and even intricate objects like lenses and other optical equipment. Waterjet helps in making all of these products by providing superior glass-cutting abilities.
The healthcare industry relies on a lot of different kinds of plastics for making medical equipment and prosthetics. Multi-axis waterjet cutting machines can create complex cuts on the plastics, shaping them into the final part without many secondary processes.
What are the Applications of Waterjet Technology in the Medical Industry?
Waterjet technology finds many uses in the medical field. Some of these applications are:
- Prosthetics out of metal, wood, plastics, and composite materials.
- Artificial heart valves
- IV stands
- Medical lab testing equipment
- Surgical knives
- Medical implants
- Dental cutting and grinding tools
- Orthopedic tools for bone cutting
- Plastic surgery tools for removing skin grafts, removing tattoos, liposuction, etc.
- Dermatological tools for removing dead skin cells
- Resection of soft tissues, liver, gallbladder, kidney, brain, prostate, etc.
- Cleaning wounds
Benefits of Waterjet Cutting for the Medical Industry
There are many reasons that make waterjet technology the best at what it does for the medical sector. Here are some of the reasons waterjet cutting has become the preferable technology in medicine:
- Precision: Medical industry deals with cases that are often life-and-death situations. It is important for the tools to have the highest levels of precision to ensure nothing goes wrong during their operation. Waterjet comes to be of help in this regard, providing tight tolerances of around +/- 0.003″ positional accuracy.
- Hygiene Standards: In a sensitive sector like healthcare, it is important to have high hygiene standards. Waterjet cutting is a great way to ensure it since there is no human contamination factor. The tool is operated by a computer and the cutting head never comes in contact with the workpiece.
- Versatility: Waterjet machines can cut a large number of materials, including metals, glass, plastics, ceramics, and others. Additionally, it is possible to cut complex and irregular shapes with these machines. This gives them the ability to work in every area of the medical industry without restraints.
- Surface Quality: Waterjet cutting provides a smooth surface quality to the workpieces being cut. This eliminates the requirement of any secondary processing or grinding of the tools.
- Cold Cutting Process: Alternative cutting processes like plasma or laser cutting heat the edges that are being cut. However, waterjet cutting is a cold-cutting process with no heat-affected zone or thermal distortion. This preserves the integrity of the material and removes the possibility of discoloration.
- Optimal Material Usage: The kerf width is minimal in waterjet cutting. This leads to minimal wastage of material. Additionally, all the removed material is dissolved in the water and can be strained and recycled later.
- Wide Size Range: Waterjet cutting has a wide range when it comes to the acceptable size of the workpiece. It can craft very small components as well as very large ones. There is even the feature to stack multiple sheets of material on top of each other and cut them simultaneously.
- Cost Effective: Due to the high productivity, high speed, and low wastage of the waterjet cutting process, it is a very cost-effective option.
How to Source CNC Waterjet Cutting Machines?
The medical industry has high standards and requires machines that can be compliant with these standards. Techni Waterjet CNC machines are considered the best in this regard, used by the leading manufacturers in the healthcare industry.
Techni Waterjet machines come in various options to choose from based on the requirement. Additionally, being a branded provider of waterjet cutters in the US, the spare parts are available whenever required.
Waterjet cutting has changed the way medical equipment is crafted, adding new levels of precision. The future of medical technology is going towards the nanoscale, and waterjet technology, due to its ultra-high precision and scalability, is able to handle these requirements quite well.