In the medical industry, lasers have enabled manufacturers to reach new heights of quality in devices that must deliver accurate, consistent and timely results for patients. First introduced in 1965, lasers today are used in a number of industrial applications, and are known to produce exceptionally precise results. Thanks to laser processing technology, modern medical equipment is more advanced and powerful than ever. The four main types of laser processing are cutting, welding, drilling and marking.
Laser cutting works by using an intense beam of light to heat, melt or vaporize materials with pinpoint accuracy. This process leaves behind a clean edge that’s free of distortion and high-quality. It allows manufacturers to create products with intricate shapes and extremely tight tolerances. Stents are one such product. A stent is a small mesh tube that is placed in narrow or weak arteries to provide structural support and facilitate blood flow. Laser technology can form high-quality stents with features as small as 0.002 inches.
Laser welding is also an important process in medical device manufacturing. It works by delivering a focused stream of light on a surface, vaporizing it and allowing it to fuse together. The resulting weld is not only strong, but also visibly clean and appealing. The process is especially ideal for heat-sensitive assemblies because it minimizes thermal distortion. Some examples of medical devices with laser welded components include pacemakers, surgical tools, catheter tubing and ultra-fine wires.
Laser drilling enables manufacturers to create clean and uniform holes. The holes are created through pulses of focused laser energy, which gradually vaporizes the material. In the medical industry, laser drilling is used to create precise holes in liquid and gas-flow delivery devices. Precision is especially important in this application because the patients must be able to receive drugs to a specific target area only. Other medical products with laser drilled features include angioplasty balloons, flexible tubing and filtering devices.
Lastly, laser marking facilitates traceability for medical devices. Laser markers engrave specific graphical information and traceability data on medical products such as surgical instruments. Laser marking is preferred in these medical applications because it results in etchings that are flat. The flat markings are less likely to harbor harmful bacteria, or create areas vulnerable to corrosion after repeated sterilization processes.
The medical industry relies on technologically complex and advanced equipment to deliver the best care to patients. Laser technology has advanced to meet the growing demands of an industry where high quality, performance and precision are critical to success. At Laserage Technology Corporation®, we can meet the challenges of laser processing for a highly competitive and advanced industry. To learn more about laser processing for medical devices, download a copy of our eBook today.