Industry insiders gather in Medical Valley
Virtual and real inspiration for Medical Machining Engineers
Less than two years old and already a popular meeting place for the medical technology sector: Starrag’s TechCenter for Medical Technology and Precision Engineering (TCI), where the events of the St Nicholas Tech Day took place. Up to 50 experts from Medical Valley came to the event, where they observed, listened and were amazed by demonstrations of the high-precision machining centre Bumotec s191H, for example.
There was a lot of interest: The first guests arrived shortly after the Saint Nicholas Tech Day began, to take part in small talk at the coffee bar, technical discussions at the stalls of Starrag’s partners Horn, CGTech and SolidCAM, and to watch machine demonstrations of the Bumotec product range, manufactured in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. “For us, a customer day at the TCI is more than just a promotional event”, said a regular guest from the region. “We enjoy meeting back here again and again to discuss new machining trends with representatives from Starrag and their partner companies, and with colleagues from the medical technology sector.”
Even new customers are delighted
At the center of the event were of course demonstrations of the high-precision machining center Bumotec s191H, which performed the precision processingof stainless steel micro-mechanical components to thousands of an inch. Several industry specialists from a long-standing, loyal Starrag customer that already owns several Bumotec cen- ters were not the only ones interested in the demonstrations. The owner of a small, highly specialized subcontracting business from the Tuttlingen district, who recently ordered a vertical 5-axis machin- ing center, also took part in the event. “I have been singing this machine’s praises for a long time now”, said the new customer. “The competition must not know that with a Bumotec s191 PRM, I will soon produce highly accurate medical technology components in a single clamping operation. It speaks volumes that with this machine, 80 % of my components can be completely machined in a single clamping operation.”These components are most likely to be highly complex parts made of high-strength materials, “because the s191 is much too good for standard products”, says Oliver Lenhardt, Head of Application Technology at the TCI. Despite its compact design (space requirement: 4 m²) and relatively low weight (4.2 t), the machining centre features a high degree of system rigidity. In Immendingen there was also great interest in the fact that the machine is also suitable for simultaneous 5-axis machining of rods with a diameter of up to 65 mm.
These components are most likely to be highly complex parts made of high- strength materials, “because the s191 is much too good for standard products”, says Oliver Lenhardt, Head of Application Technology at the TCI. Despite its compact design (space requirement: 43 sq. ft.) and relatively low weight (4.2 t), the machining center features a high degree of system rigidity. In Immendingen there was also great interest in the fact that the machine is also suitable for simultaneous 5-axis machining of rods with a diameter of up to 2.6 inches.
Successful collaboration with partner companies
At the center of the event were of course demonstrations of the high-precision machining center Bumotec s191H, which performed the precision processing of stainless steel micromechanical components to thousandths of an inch.
High-quality machining results are often better achieved in collaboration with partner companies, with tool manufacturers playing a major role in this. The high requirements of the medical technology sector were highlighted in a lecture by Matthias Polzin, Application Engineer at the Paul Horn carbide tool factory, with reference to typical materials and their particular characteristics. The workers in Tübingen have developed a variety of tailor-made solutions suitable for each of these raw materials: In Immendingen, Polzin presented various tools, including Horn’s new “µ-Finish” tools, specifically developed for the machining of small parts made of stainless steel, for example.
Meanwhile, virtual solutions are now playing just as important a role as tools: Frank Zehnder, Application Engineer from SolidCAM, demonstrated how iMachining can be used for the virtual optimization of processing. Hans Erkelenz from CGTech’s Application Technology department demonstrated the Vericut simulation program using a virtual Bumotec s191H. Thanks to a number of interfaces, the user can reduce “the amount of manual input required to the minimum”.
The Saint Nicholas Tech Day concept went down well. “It was a very successful event with around 50 guests from 14 companies”, said TCI Head of Sales Marc Lehmann. “The feedback was more than positive: The total number of new projects that came about as a result of the event was in double figures.”
Lothar Schutzbach was one of approximately 50 experts from Medical Valley to meet in December at the new TechCenter for Medical Technology and Precision Engineering (TCI) belonging to Swiss Company Starrag. The manager is delighted with his new neighbour, who is now able to provide support even more directly than before with the company’s five Bumotec machining centres.
Inspired by the neighbours
Lothar Schutzbach, Manager of the Instrument Plant of Aesculap AG in Tuttlingen:
“With production on a Bumotec, post processing is only very rarely required. We have largely been able to eliminate machining operations such as grinding and polishing.”
Mr. Schutzbach, when did Aesculap begin using Bumotec machining centres?
Schutzbach: We have been using them for more than ten years. We now have five multi-axis Bumotec machining centres that we use to manufacture surgical instruments from martensitic materials, stainless steels and titanium alloys.
What are the advantages of Bumotec production technology?
Schutzbach: It is particularly suitable for highly complex microsurgery and neurosurgery instruments that require an extremely precise manufacturing process, as well as for endoscopy and laparoscopy instruments. And, of course, it’s also suitable for implants, for the spine for example, and the necessary associated instruments. I consider it a great advantage that components can be fully machined in a single clamping operation, which means that no processing or handling errors occur. Aesculap is also very satisfied with the quality of the surfaces: With production on a Bumotec, post processing is only very rarely required. We have largely been able to eliminate machining operations such as grinding and polishing.
What benefits have you seen from the newly founded TechCenter for Medical Technology and Precision Engineering (TCI), located just next door?
Schutzbach: The new site is very positive for us – we can now receive even better support because we are so close by. We receive very fast and professional assistance. And what is more: If a task becomes more complex, we can call for additional support from Switzerland through the TCI.
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