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How CNC Machining is Used in the Medical Industry

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How CNC Machining is Used in the Medical Industry

The medical industry requires extremely precise parts and components. When dealing with people’s health, maintaining quality and the highest standards is essential. The medical industry is one where failure simply isn’t an option. To meet the high demands of the medical and healthcare industry, precision CNC machine shops manufacture a variety of parts. 

CNC machines have the unique capabilities to produce high quantities of parts that meet exact specifications. In 2020, Spex and other machine shops shifted to manufacture essential medical equipment like ventilators that were needed as quickly as possible. 

In this article we’ll explain how the medical industry uses CNC machining to help and serve millions of people around the world. 

Why is CNC machining used for medical parts?

Two of the primary benefits of CNC machining is the ability to produce high quantities of parts, and maintain tight tolerances. 

The medical industry often requires custom parts. CNC machines can be programmed to make complex metal parts. The custom part blueprint can be loaded into the machine and production can start within a few hours. This allows for rapid prototyping, and the ability to make thousands of identical parts quickly.

CNC machines use a variety of cutting tools to make unique cuts, angles, and other part features with great precision and repeatability. This helps the medical industry get custom machined parts at a lower cost.

The parts used in the medical industry need to be very precise. A lot of medical equipment has hundreds, or even thousands, of tiny parts packed together into a machine or medical device. All of those tiny parts need to be carefully machined to eliminate the chances of failure. 

Many medical components are also harder metals like stainless steel and titanium to maintain sterility and meet strength requirements. The right CNC machines can cut hard metals like titanium and high-grade stainless steel better than most machining processes.

Lastly, CNC machining offers speed and efficiency that benefits the medical industry. 

In early 2020, many machine shops transitioned to help manufacture parts for ventilators and other much-needed medical equipment. 

CNC machines can make rapid prototypes, and produce thousands of unique, identical parts. After the set up process, CNC machines can run 24/7 without requiring much human help. This helps speed up the supply chain and eliminate long waiting periods. CNC machining is also the most efficient way to machine high quantities of parts which lowers costs. 

Common applications for CNC machining for medical industry

CNC machining can be used to make parts of virtually any size, shape, and material. For the medical industry, this can mean machining simple parts like surgical scissors, and complex systems like a heart rate monitor.

There are 3 main categories of medical equipment that can use CNC machined parts.

  • Medical implants
  • Surgical instruments
  • Parts for electronic equipment

Medical implants like a knee replacement require uniquely shaped parts, usually made with titanium or stainless steel. Because these parts are less common, and unique to each patient, either CNC machining or 3D printing is used.

Surgical instruments like scissors, handles, and forceps are simple devices are typically one or two simple metal components. When precision and tight tolerances are needed, CNC machining is used to make these components.

CNC machines also manufacture parts for more complex equipment, such as heart rate monitors, X-ray machines, and MRI scanners. This equipment has thousands of precision pins, fasteners, spacers, and screws that fit together. Most of them are manufactured using CNC machines. These parts include tiny components such as buttons, switches, precision screws, connectors, and much more.

All these components must offer exceptional precision to eliminate the risk of machine failure, especially since they can be used all day and are often moved from room to room.

Other medical devices like stents, drug delivery systems, and parts for implants and devices are precision machined. Since these parts are in contact with people’s body, they need to be exceptionally precise and sterile. They’re also designed to be as small as possible, which requires a lot of precision. CNC machines and Swiss style screw machines can make small intricate parts that are ideal for these applications.

In general, CNC machining gives manufacturers the ability to use the right materials and maintain the tight tolerances that the medical industry needs.

Our machining capabilities

Spex offers a great range of tight tolerance parts and diverse material and design abilities. We have worked with customers in a variety of industries and work with engineers and product designers to manufacture the exact parts they need. 

Our machine shop and industry relationships allow us to produce virtually any part, and use any material. The CNC machines we use allow for 100% customization of production, rapid prototyping, and ultra-precise part production. Whether you need 10 custom parts, or 1,000,000, our precision machine shop can help maintain the quality and help you manage your supply chain efficiently

CNC machines also allow us to run jobs 24/7 which results in customers getting large orders quickly and efficiently. 

Spex is an ISO 9001:2015 certified machine shop, which means that our teams are required to maintain quality standards and make investments for continuous improvements.

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