The Importance of Tight Tolerances in the Medical Industry
Metal parts with tight tolerances play a vital role in a wide variety of medical equipment. Medical machining companies must make medical gear — including surgical instruments, components for spinal or bone fixation, parts for medical pumps, CT and MRI machines, and more — according to strict design parameters, and may only deviate from a product’s specification by a few millimeters, if at all.
These tight tolerances ensure uniformity and reliability of the medical equipment. If parts are out of tolerance, the medical device may not work correctly, which can put human lives at risk. With so much on the line, you might be wondering how medical machining companies ensure they meet tight tolerances. In this article, we’ll discuss five main ways they ensure reliability and patient safety with quality medical tooling.
Medical Equipment Parts vs. Tooling
Before we examine how machining companies ensure tight tolerances, it’s important to note the distinction between medical parts and tooling. Though certain complex medical parts can only be machined, medical machining companies may produce tooling to mass-produce simple medical components.
To meet certain functional and longevity requirements, medical device original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will employ contract machining companies to create tooling that dramatically reduces the price per part and turnaround times. Tooling may include soft, hard, hybrid or staged tooling, as well as punching dies. We won’t cover these processes in-depth here; however, these processes include machining a uniform piece of equipment that is then used to mass-manufacture a part.
Ways Medical Machining Companies Ensure Tight Tolerances on Your Medical Tooling
Regular Machine Calibration
Over time and with repeated use, CNC machines will start to shift slightly, which can cause tooling to be out of tolerance. Medical machining companies will use specialized tools like interferometers and laser calibration systems to ensure machines can achieve tight tolerances. Every operation will have different standards for how often their machines are calibrated, but they’re usually reset about every six months.
Incorporating Warm-up Routines
Warm-up routines are standard for many milling operations; they’re designed to ensure the lubrication and bearings of the machine are warmed up before beginning work. Doing these warm-ups minimizes dimensional changes that may occur as the machine reaches operating temperature.
Ensuring Thermal Stabilization
Controlling workshop temperature is imperative to achieving tight tolerances. If the temperature varies widely throughout the day, you won’t be able to get a consistent tolerance. That’s why many medical machining companies use heating and cooling systems to keep a steady temperature within the shop. They will also ensure any CNC machines are out of direct sunlight, as this can affect the temperature of the machine as well.
Employing Experienced Engineers and Operators
Experienced engineers know how to modify designs for simple and accurate machining processes, which will ensure the operators can repeat the same part over and over with little deviation. Skilled machine operators also know how to carry out manual machining and lathing operations, which also results in tight tolerances on your tooling.
Using Quality CNC Machines
You can have the most experienced operator making your tooling, but if they’re using outdated machines, the quality of your components will suffer. For example, if the machine tolerance is +/- 0.02 millimeters, an operator won’t be able to achieve +/- 0.01 millimeters on your tooling. A quality medical machining company will invest in the best-quality machines to ensure tight tolerances.
Your Search for Medical Machining Companies is Over — Contact Pivot Precision Today
Pivot Precision is a highly experienced machining company, producing tooling for medical, ammunition, firearm, automotive, and other precision applications. In fact, we regularly produce second-tier medical tooling — including standard punches and dies — for some of the largest medical companies in the United States.
With over 50 years of experience, an ISO 9001:2015 certification, and a robust team of skilled professionals, we’re ready to take on even the most complex medical machining tasks. Our workforce sustains a culture of meeting challenging specifications, delivering the highest quality and maintaining customer satisfaction standards.
When you need quality medical tooling fast, think of Pivot Precision. With extensive manufacturing capabilities our employees can deliver parts with short lead times on demanding specifications and highly complex parts. We are also located near Niagara Falls, New York, positioning us close to airports and interstates for quick delivery on international or domestic shipments.