Category Archive: Laser Cutting

How to Find the Right Laser Processing Partner

To ensure that your medical device manufacturing projects are accomplished as efficiently and quickly as possible, it’s important to find the right laser processing partner.

Choosing the right partner for your specific needs will save time, reduce costs, conserve resources, and give you confidence that your project will be completed smoothly through a reliable partnership.

The Efficiency of Laser Manufacturing

Medical laser cutting creates extremely precise cuts at tight tolerances. Because laser cutting systems produce low heat levels, they reduce the risk of material warping and require less energy input compared to standard machinery. There is also no contact between the workpiece and the cutting apparatus, which eliminates the risk of material contamination when working with plastic, metal, or wood.

Precision laser drilling services are especially ideal for applications that require small holes with large depth-to-diameter ratios. The drilling process is repeatable and very fast, making it well-suited to the high-production volumes associated with fully automated or semi-automated tooling applications, and can be used with both hard and soft materials.

Laser welding, meanwhile, allows for the fabrication of the intricate and thin-walled components often required in medical devices. The welding process needs little joint preparation — sometimes none at all —saving time and money, especially with high production volumes. Because metal is fused within a very small area at high speeds and consistent welds, laser welding causes less workpiece distortion.

How to Find a Versatile Laser Shop

In order to get your projects completed efficiently, safely, and on-time, it’s essential that you find a laser shop that can handle your unique needs.

Before selecting a laser processing partner, get a clear overview of the technologies a company utilizes. Far-infrared (CO2), near-infrared (Nd:YAG, fiber, and disk), ultra-short pulse (femto), and UV equipment are common options, each of which is suited to different applications. CO2 lasers, for instance, are ideal for working non-metallic materials, while fiber lasers are best for metal engraving and metal marking through annealing.

Many materials can be laser processed, including stainless and steel alloys, titanium and nitinol, plastics, wood, ceramics, coated metals, acrylic, and bioabsorbable materials. Getting a clear view of your potential laser partner’s capabilities before moving forward will ensure a smooth, successful, and long-lasting working relationship.

Is Your Laser Processing Partner Reliable?

Medical-Parts-Cutting-5x7When choosing a laser partner, it’s important to consider their reliability. Look through portfolios of their previous work to get a better idea of their capabilities and ideals. If you’re not finding what you need on their website, request portfolios and additional case studies to get the information you need to make an informed decision.

Looking through their list of clients — or even asking to speak to some of them as a reference — will give you a clearer picture of their past projects and areas of expertise, their typical customers, and the materials with which they can work.

Learning about a laser shop’s commitment to quality and any certifications they may hold will also help you during this critical decision-making process.

Certifications to Look for When Choosing a Laser Shop

iso-13485-image-with-borderWhen choosing a laser shop to partner with, quality is of utmost importance. A potential partner should have a robust quality manual containing all of their certification information, their goals and ideals, and an outline of their business ethics.

For medical device laser processing, ISO 13845 is particularly important. This certification ensures that the design, production, installation, and servicing of medical devices is done in accordance with established safety and quality regulations. Laser shops committed to quality will also conduct regular external and internal audits to ensure ISO 13845 compliance.

RoHS compliance, which regulates the use of hazardous materials, and REACH, which protects people and the environment from harmful chemicals, should also be considered in your search for a laser processing partner.

To be sure of your partner’s commitment to quality, team up with a shop that has its own inspection capabilities and global code of conduct.

Consider Laserage for All of Your Laser Needs

For over 35 years, Laserage Technology Corporation has been at the forefront of laser manufacturing.

To meet our customers’ specific needs, we make use of several custom-designed laser systems, including far-infrared (CO2), near-infrared (Nd:YAG, fiber, and disk), UV, and ultra-short pulse (femto) equipment. We can handle a wide range of materials — titanium and nitinol, stainless steel and steel alloys, brass, plastics, and ceramics, to name a few — in the manufacture of medical device components such as stents, bone saws, delivery systems, and hones.

Laserage’s full-time quality personnel ensure that every job is completed in a safe, efficient, and timely manner. We’re not only registered to ISO 13485:2003 for medical device components, but also to ISO 9001:2008 for all other products and components. Our company is also in full compliance with REACH and RoHS.

To learn more about how we can help you accomplish your next project, download our eBook, “Design for Manufacturability: Maximizing the Advantages of Laser Cutting.”

download our design for laser cutting manufacturability ebook

Versatility in Lasers and How It’s Expanding the Technology Market

Laser technology, while groundbreaking, is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Cutting-edge light detection technology has contributed to archaeologists’ discovery of lost cities and TSA checkpoint attendants’ identification of dangerous objects.  Therapeutic tools can now repair nerve damage and continue to enhance precision in surgery. Laser processing can truly be found everywhere.

The versatility of laser technology bodes well for industry forecasts. Lasers now appear in a variety of industries, including aerospace, microelectronics, industrial, and medical. In applications demanding extreme precision, laser welding, cutting, and drilling offer unparalleled capabilities for high strength materials.

With decades of proven success since their introduction in 1965, lasers have established themselves as a highly efficient, cost-effective method of material processing. As this technology continues to advance, lasers emerge as invaluable tools for diverse applications and industries.

Expanding the Technology Market

metal working. Laser cutting technology of flat sheet metal steel material processing with sparks. Authentic shooting in challenging conditions. Maybe little blurred.There are endless possibilities for laser technology applications, as well as new uses. In the travel industry, researchers have developed quantum cascade lasers to scan objects at airport security checkpoints in fractions of a second. In interstellar space travel, powerful laser beams stationed on Earth could help push spacecraft thousands of times faster than rockets during launch.

In the medical industry, laser technology helps ophthalmologists remove cataracts more precisely and effectively, and research is currently underway to determine the effectiveness of femtosecond laser technology in correcting astigmatism. Meanwhile, biotech companies are developing laser technology that targets and destroys cancer cells, acting as an alternative to chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.

The industrial sector frequently uses lasers to cut plastic for automotive assemblies. The high efficiency and precision offered by laser cutting, drilling, and welding also helps to make cars lighter and more fuel-efficient. The microelectronics industry relies on this enhanced precision to cut ceramic substrates for hybrid circuits, chips, and microelectronic devices.

One of the most recent breakthroughs in laser technology even helped archaeologists discover a lost civilization in Cambodia. Lidar (light detection and ranging) is an airborne laser scanning technology that helped researchers “cut” through the jungle to map data points and pinpoint the exact remains of structures in great detail.

Want to Learn More?

These are just some of the many examples of how laser technology is expanding to meet the needs of every industry. For almost 40 years, Laserage Technology Corporation has been a leader in laser contract manufacturing across a variety of industries and applications. Our facilities are equipped with a team of 160 experienced employees operating over 60 laser systems, which are comprised of more than 90 lasers.

To learn more about the design integrity, advantages, and manufacturability of lasers, download our free eBook, “Design for Manufacturability: Maximizing the Advantages of Laser Cutting.”

download our design for laser cutting manufacturability ebook

Common Misconceptions and Benefits of Laser Cutting

The first laser was built by Hughes Research Laboratories’ Theodore H. Maiman in 1960.

The first successfully fired coherent light laser, Maiman’s was a solid-state pulsed laser. Since then, a tremendous volume of innovations have followed, including the 1967 invention of the first laser designed for industrial laser processing. That laser, designed and built by Peter Houldcroft, was an oxygen gas-assisted CO2 laser that successfully cut a 1mm thick sheet of steel.

Today, despite there being a wide range of laser types performing a wide range of industrial processes, there remains a number of common misconceptions, particularly about laser cutting.

Common Laser Cutting Misconceptions

CUTTING2One of the most common misconceptions about laser cutting technology is that laser cutters are volume limited. Many people believe, mistakenly, that laser cutting is good for one-off prototypes but not full-scale production runs.

The fact is that advances in laser processing technology have made laser processes such as laser cutting very expedient and that most manufacturers equipped with them use the tools for full-scale production. This is true for 2- and 3-axis gantry type lasers, as well as for galvanometer-type lasers, which use mirrors to direct the laser beam and are generally faster in a small area.

Another common misconception is that laser cutting machines are an unnecessary workplace danger. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Laser manufacturers design their systems from the ground up with safety as their primary concern. When the systems are installed properly, laser cutting is so safe that they are often an even safer option than comparable tool-based systems.

Lasers have been used for material cutting and other industrial processes successfully for over 40 years and have proven themselves over that time. Aside from being both efficient and safe, they can also be simpler to use — they don’t require the complex tools and dies that traditional methods do and because they are non-contact there is no tool wear to impact the cut quality.

Benefits of Laser Cutting

Laser cutting, as with all industrial laser processes, provides a tremendous number of benefits. They are safe, efficient, fast, and scalable to full-scale production — but these benefits only scratch the surface of what laser cutting can offer your next project.

Exclusively CNC controlled, laser cutting systems can create cuts with unparalleled precision, including very narrow widths, and hold the tightest tolerances. Setup is quick, and the cuts are reliable and easily repeatable. Laser cutting systems are also capable of cutting shapes with very complex geometries, past the capabilities of other machining methods.

Despite the power they create — industrial lasers generally operate in the 10 to 3000 W range — laser cutting systems produce relatively low heat levels, which minimizes material warping, and requires less input energy than standard machinery.

With no contact between the workpiece and the cutting apparatus, laser cutting systems eliminate the risk of material contamination. When considering that laser cutting can be used for a huge variety of materials — including a range of plastics and metals, rubbers, wood, ceramic, and more — this becomes very important.

Laser Cutting with Laserage

Laserage Technology Corporation, a globally recognized laser processing leader, maintains modern, state-of-the-art laser processing facilities, carrying ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certifications, in both Waukegan, IL, and Milpitas, CA. We use a number of laser processing systems, including custom-designed CO2, ND:YAG, fiber, disk, and Femto laser systems.

To learn more about Laserage, our laser cutting capabilities, and how you can get the most out of our services, download our free eBook, “Design for Manufacturability: Maximizing the Advantages of Laser Cutting,” today.

download our design for laser cutting manufacturability ebook

The Current State of Medical Stent Manufacturing

Originally reserved for cardiovascular applications, medical stent manufacturing now increasingly applies to a wide variety of medical industry applications including birth control, kidney stone pain control, and esophageal and gastrointestinal uses.

StentV2-2x3-300-CMYKIntroduced in 1986 as laser cut stainless steel tubes, medical stents have changed the way that doctors treat coronary heart disease. Implanted in the coronary artery, the metal mesh tubes help to prevent artery collapse or closure. Industry demand has remained consistent over the past few decades through the continuous development of new stent materials.

Materials ranging from new alloys to bioabsorbable polymers allow for more intricate stent designs and advanced capabilities. Common intravascular stent materials now include:

  • Nitinol – Also known as nickel titanium, a super elastic shape memory metal used to create self-expanding stents, which are typically implanted in peripheral arteries.
  • Stainless steel – The component’s original design material, which is known for its corrosion resistance.
  • Cobalt-chromium alloys (CoCr) – Provide increased strength to allow for thinner struts.
  • Magnesium alloys (Mg) – New biodegradable materials that come at a hefty cost.
  • Bioabsorbable polymers – Capable of temporarily treating or remodeling vessels to make them healthy before the stent material are fully absorbed, these have the potential to improve clinical outcomes.

Any tubular or flat stent material can undergo laser cutting for high precision fabrication. The laser cutting process is conducted using nanosecond-long pulsed infrared lasers; though effective, the process often results in suboptimal surface conditions. To enhance cut quality and meet accuracy requirements, engineers have developed post-processing techniques such as cleaning, etching, deburring, and final polishing.

Medical device manufacturers can also perform secondary processes including coating and surface finishing on stents. In addition, Nitinol components can now be manipulated through a shape-setting process that leverages the material’s elasticity as well. Medical devices with Nitinol have a growing competitive advantage in the medical world, as the metal is quickly becoming the material of choice in stent manufacturing.

Laserage Technology Corporation is an ISO 13485 certified leader in laser processing, with a special focus on stents and other medical components. Through the use of our custom-designed CO2, Nd:YAG, fiber, disk and Femto laser systems, our Midwest and West Coast facilities offer a wide variety of laser processing services from prototyping to both low or high volume stent production.

At Laserage, we help medical manufacturers reach the highest levels of performance within a short turnaround time by continuously adapting to the changes and demands of the medical industry. For more information about Laserage’s capabilities and to learn about the advancements made in the stent manufacturing industry,  download our new eBook, The Evolution of Medical Stents today.

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3 Benefits of Utilizing Femtosecond Laser Processing

Femtosecond laser processing offers several other benefits compared to conventional laser processing technologies. Here are the top three reasons to consider femtosecond laser processing:

1. Minimal Surface Debris

laser-cutting Conventional laser machining can frequently produce droplets of molten metal around worked edges.  As the machining process continues, debris (also called swarf) can accumulate on the work piece, which can result in heavy contamination that is difficult to remove.

Using an ultrafast femtosecond laser produces minimal amounts of debris; the residual debris takes the form of a fine dust, which does not carry heat, is not bound to the surface, and is, therefore, easier to remove.

2. No Heat Damage

Ultrashort noncontact femtosecond laser pulses have a lower energy impact and reduce the amount of thermal damage in worked pieces. Unlike lasers with longer pulse widths, they can be used to produce long channels with high aspect ratios and little residual damage or stress in the material.

Femtosecond lasers exhibit two ablation phases: a gentle and a strong ablation phase. The gentle phase results in controlled melting and vaporization. The strong phase can be used to ablate long, narrow channels with high aspect ratios.

Overall, femtosecond lasers produce high-quality cuts without damaging entrance or exit surfaces and without adding stress to the machined part.

3. Little to No Post-Processing Needed

Femtosecond laser technology uses short pulses that leave no thermal fingerprint. Worked pieces require minimal post-processing and can be more finely detailed because of the smaller beam size. This is particularly useful for medical devices like catheters, heart valves, and stents.

Fiber lasers can cut precisely, but parts require lengthy post-processing operations, which add to project costs and can lead to damaged parts. Femtosecond lasers use a cold ablation process that is superior in quality and precision to the melt-ejection process of fiber lasers.

How Laserage Can Help

Laserage is equipped with ultra-fast femtosecond lasers for all your precision machining needs. Our lasers produce no surface debris, heat damage, or cracking, which saves post-processing time and reduces costs.

Contact us today to learn more about this innovative technology. You can also learn more about our other laser capabilities, including laser drilling and laser welding.

download our design for laser cutting manufacturability ebook

Design for Manufacturability: Maximizing the Advantages of Laser Cutting

It’s not easy to succeed in today’s global marketplace. But here at Laserage® Technology Corporation, we’re light years ahead in helping you achieve that goal. Our company specializes in precision tube cutting, laser scribing, machining, drilling, welding, and other custom laser job shop services.

Cutting-Laser-13-5x5As the largest custom laser job shop in the world, we laser process metals, plastics, fused quartz, alumina and most other materials—with consistent high quality, on-time delivery, and cost competitive prices.

But it takes more than that. In order to beat your competition and speed time to market, you also need to control development costs with efficient processes from start to finish.

And that’s where design for manufacturability (DFM) comes in. Also known as DFM, this engineering practice takes into account both the design of your product, as well as its ease of manufacturing. By validating design integrity and verifying manufacturability early in the development process, significant savings of time and development costs, improvement in manufacturing productivity, and acceleration of time-to-market can be achieved.

Laserage-Designing-for-Manufacturability-Laser-ProcessingLaser cutting machines use stimulation and amplification techniques to convert electrical energy into a high-density beam of light; it’s a powerful technology in the hands of skilled professionals. But it’s important to implement the right laser cutting strategy to achieve the highest accuracy, highest throughput, highest reliability, and lowest cost.

The goal of any DFM initiative is to achieve a simple solution rather than a complex one. Complex designs are harder to manage overall.  But as one of the most efficient and cost effective fabrication methods, laser technology is perfect for a simple way of creating all shapes and sizes of components you need!

We understand design for manufacturability can be difficult, so we have developed a new eBook, Design for Manufacturability: Maximizing the Advantages of Laser Cutting.  As experts in precision laser contract manufacturing, we have the experience and resources to help you reap the cost and quality benefits that laser processing has to offer.

Learn more by downloading our latest  eBook: Design for Manufacturability: Maximizing the Advantages of Laser Cutting. You can also contact us or submit a request for quote today.