Engineers need to achieve tighter tolerances because patients are sensitive to the intrusion of larger medical devices. Precision is important, but so is the ability to design a biocompatible product that requires fewer assembly steps.
During the design process, engineers are also concerned about healthcare-acquired infections (HAI). Single-use instruments can reduce the risk of HAI, but medical devices that cost thousands of dollars may be designed for repeated use and need to support cleaning, sterilization, and disinfection.
Why Not Current Methods? Cost + Time
Traditionally, micro injection molding or CNC machining have been used to produce very small parts.
Issues with these methods include:
- Tooling turnaround times can be long
- Tooling costs are significant
Why Micro 3D Printing? Speed + Precision
3D printing doesn’t require tooling, but some systems cannot produce small parts with tight tolerances at the required resolution. For example, fused deposition modeling (FDM) is limited to low-precision parts that have rough surfaces. Two-photon polymerization based direct laser writing (TPP-DLW) can produce small parts in ultra-high precision, but it’s a slow process for an industry that wants to speed product assembly.
Fortunately, BMF’s projection micro-stereolithography (PμSL) technology:
- Prints small parts rapidly, in biomedical plastics, and with 2 μm resolution and +/- 10 μm accuracy at scale
- Reduces the amount of assembly steps for manufacturers
- Facilitates medical device designs for improved deployment and removal
- Supports product designs that speed assembly
Medical applications for BMF’s PμSL technology include endoscopes, cardiovascular stents, and blood heat exchangers. PμSL technology has also been used to 3D print a spiral syringe needle for minimally invasive surgery, a 3D printed valve for a gene sequencer, and lab-on-a-chip (LOC) devices.