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Rofin’s laser technology is available for a range of medical device applications including micro-cutting, welding, marking and laser structuring.

The control and cleanliness that laser processing offers makes the the laser an ideal tool for integration into the automated systems and production lines used in the manufacture of medical devices and components.

Lasers also meet the requirements of medical device manufacturers for processing and welding the most commonly used bio-compatible materials such as stainless steel, titanium and platinum.

Welding materials such as titanium and platinum are normally considered to be difficult using conventional welding processes such as tungsten inert gas (TIG), however, with the laser the joining process is easy.

With the ability to produce a fine laser spot of less than 100 microns, the laser is also suited to demanding applications on miniature components.

Among the many medical implants produced using laser welding is the cardiac pacemaker.

This device is manufactured in titanium and in most cases, hermetically welded using the laser.

The types of laser used for fine welding of this nature tend to be pulsed YAG Lasers, which produce the high-quality beam output and consistency of penetration required for these miniature and high-precision applications.

Not only is it important to have lasers that can generate the fine spot sizes required for miniature applications in the medical device industry, it is also essential that the laser is controlled correctly to produce the quality required.

Rofin employs a double closed-loop control principle, which the company said guarantees excellent pulse-to-pulse repeatability with less than one per cent variation even at low-pulse energies.

This pulse stability together with intra-pulse control, which is unaffected by reflections from the workpiece, means that precisely controlled pulses of only a few mJ of energy can be used to weld extremely thin wires of 50 micron diameter, or to produce seam welds in thin section metal parts.

Rofin’s Starweld Select is an ergonomically designed and fully integrated laser welding system.

Starweld Select has four high-precision axes and a user interface.

The system can be used as a manual welding system, joystick controlled deposit welding system or high-precision CNC welding system.

The multi-function joystick and large colour touch-screen enable all parameters to be easily set by the user.

Additional features include the micro welding option, which enables welding spot diameters smaller than 0.1mm to be achieved as opposed to the more common 0.2-0.3mm spot size.

Rofin said that its sweet spot resonator provides consistent weld quality, even in highly reflective materials, with high pulse-to-pulse stability over a large depth of focus.

Starweld Select offers economic and flexible processing of even the most delicate medical device component parts.

Laser structuring uses short high energy pulses to ablate material surfaces.

This high-precision process can be used to generate micro structures smaller than 15 micron as well as removing entire surfaces layer by layer.

Selective material removal is useful in the production of polymer components and implants.

This type of surface structuring can make an implant more biologically acceptable to the body.

Other applications of laser structuring include using the process to generate a rough surface on the rear of dental brace brackets.

The laser structured surface enhances adhesive bonding characteristics and strength when the bracket is adhered to the tooth.

The latest version of Rofin’s Starcut Tube uses a fibre laser technology specifically designed for tube cutting and processing applications.

The combination of this laser technology and up to four servo-driven axes means the system can be used to create a diverse range of cutting geometries, including the ability to cut ‘off axis’.

The ability to cut off axis has enabled new strut configurations and therefore new stent designs to be produced.

Off-axis cutting also allows the system to replicate the parallel wall features produced by traditional mechanical milling and EDM processes.

New and unusual cutting geometries are also possible, for example, spiral cuts or interlinked structures can be produced in just one process operation.

These techniques enable the production of flexible or steerable instruments such as those used in endoscopy.

This latest generation system can process tubes with diameters of less than 200 microns with kerf widths of less than 15 microns.

The robust machine construction together with linear motor technology enables contour accuracy of +/-5um and strut widths down to 10um to be achieved.

The system can also achieve fast process times for stent cutting.

The capability to manipulate the tube at speeds of up to 20 revolutions per second makes Starcut Tube up to four times faster, for certain applications, when compared to other alternative solutions, added Rofin.

Another development in this latest version of Starcut Tube is the capability to perform wet cutting processes.

With all of the main elements such as the laser source, motion stages, control system and tube loading mechanisms incorporated within a stand-alone system, this latest version of Starcut Tube provides a high-speed and ergonomic solution for micro-machining.

Marking and identification of medical device components is subject to the same precision and repeatability demanded by the machining or welding applications performed in the previous stages of manufacture.

Rofin lasers are used to generate alphanumeric content, vector or rastered graphics, greyscale, bar codes or data matrix codes.

To meet the diverse range of marking applications typical of the medical device industry, Rofin has developed the Combiline Cube.

This concept offers a platform for the integration of the range of laser sources such as solid-state, fibre or diode lasers that are available from Rofin.

Combine this range of laser sources with the array of focussing optics and axes that are also available, and the Combiline Cube can be configured for a multitude of marking applications.

The flexible configuration of the Combiline Cube also provides a number of options in the way in which the system can be used.

By adding a galvo scanning head and servo positioning axes, the system can be used to process large parts, or large trays of smaller parts, quickly and precisely.

The system also incorporates automatic rise and fall doors, on three sides if required, which enables it to be automatically loaded and unloaded by a robot as part of an integrated production facility.

The system can also be used as a stand-alone unit, which can be loaded and unloaded manually via the automatic doors.

Rofin-Baasel UK Ltd is the UK sales and support subsidiary of Rofin Sinar Technologies Inc, which is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial lasers and is quoted on the USA NASDAQ stock exchange. Rofin makes lasers and laser systems for marking, welding, cutting, drilling and perforating and offers sources and solutions across all the main industrial laser technologies CO2, solid state and fibre lasers. Our lasers are employed in most manufacturing markets to give customers unprecedented results in terms of quality and throughput. We have over 30,000 installations in industries such as medical device, electronics, automotive, jewellery, tool and mould, aerospace and solar power. Examples demonstrating the range of capabilities of Rofin lasers include: * In-line packaging material manufacturers use our lasers to create ‘easy open’ perforated lines in packaging. * High street jewellers buy our microwelding workstations to make and repair jewellery. * Surgical tool and implant manufacturers produce clean and permanent identification marks on their products with Rofin markers. * Photovoltaic customers rely on laser operations from scribing to drilling to make solar panels and wafers. Rofin-Baasel welcomes the opportunity to show customers what lasers can do for them.

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