Despite being a relatively new technology, waterjet cutting has shown a substantial benefit to the medical industry. Professionals are now turning towards this versatile process to aid in the development of technological advancements present in the medical industry. In this post we’ll share the reason why this industry is turning towards the waterjet cutting process and how it's being utilized.
Why did the medical industry turn to waterjet cutting
As medicine continues to advance, manufacturers of surgical materials and medical equipment began looking for alternative processes to increase productivity. These manufacturers needed a process that could hold extremely tight tolerances and had the ability to cut angles. Initial waterjet cutting technologies could not meet the medical industries standards, however after years of advancements and the addition of new technologies this process can now be used for medical applications.
The advantages of using this process
New waterjet cutting technology has allowed medical manufacturers to reach their goal of increasing productivity levels in a few different ways. One way was through its cutting speed, in comparison to traditional metal-cutting processes, waterjet cutting offered substantially higher cutting speeds. Utilizing a waterjet also cut down on set-up time and time finishing the products dramatically. These machines also had the capabilities of cutting a vast range of materials. Another key advantage to implementing this process was the lack of heat affected zones and thermal distortion. Prior to using this process, medical manufacturers often turned to laser and electrical discharge machining (EDM) , both of which caused damage and altered the chemical properties of the material due to the heat generated. Lastly, abrasive waterjet cutting exerts a much smaller amount of force then competing processes, meaning it can cut delicate features that would otherwise be too costly or hard to produce.
Prosthetics made possible by waterjet cutting
As previously stated, this process has a wide variety of applications within the medical industry, however, one of the most well known uses is for the production and development of prosthetics. For example, a few years back the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL) received a grant allowing them to work on the development of a modular prosthetic limb (MPL). The design of this project was extremely complex, it offered 22 degrees of motion and movement of each finger using a brain controlled interface. With the help of utilizing waterjet cutting technology they were able to lower the cost of producing prototypes, and were able to achieve the tight tolerances the project required. In addition, the versatility of the machine also allowed the team to utilize the process for varying parts of the project which required differing materials.
Today, many medical manufacturers and device developers use waterjet cutting technology for multiple applications. From medical devices to prosthetics, the impression of this technology can be seen throughout the industry.