Benefits of CNC Machining in the Medical Industry
There are few industries as in touch with technological advances as the medical industry. Every year, new research and inventions revolutionize how we do medicine, from advances in telehealth to new drugs to surgical robots.
Technically, CNC machining isn’t a “new” technological advance since it’s been around since the middle of the 20th century. Even so, this type of technology is helping push the field forward.
What Is CNC Machining?
Machining in itself isn’t terribly “technological.” Simply put, machining is taking a material and cutting it into a shape—for instance, taking a block of metal and cutting it into a cog. But things get more interesting when you add the “CNC” in.
Computer numerical machining, or CNC, involves machining equipment that computers automate. A design is put into a software system that runs data to some type of drive, such as a servo or spindle amplifier. From here, the information travels to a motor that allows the machine to cut and shape material with precision.
Applications of CNC Machining in the Medical Industry
In order to understand the various ways CNC machinery benefits the medical industry, it helps to understand how the medical field uses it. While this list is far from all-encompassing, these are some of the major ways it impacts this field.
A surgeon may use as many as 250 instruments and tools during a single surgery. These instruments may include:
- Plate benders
Each one of these instruments has to be easily sterilized, well-crafted, and made with precision. This is especially true of electrosurgical devices such as surgical drill robotics.
Perhaps one of the most well-known uses of CNC in the medical field is that of prosthetics. Prosthetic limbs must be individually sized and shaped depending on the person they are being fitted to.
When a prosthetist fits an amputee for a new limb, they take a mold of the residual limb, which special machinery then processes to make a digital mold. From there, the prosthetist can use CNC machining to create parts specifically designed to fit that mold for better balance for the amputee.
Hip Replacement Surgery
For those with arthritis or other health conditions, there may come a time when they have hip pain, even when at rest. In this case, a hip replacement surgery may be necessary to find relief. Hip replacement attempts to improve patient mobility by replacing a painful joint with an artificial one made of plastic or metal.
Since you are attempting to create a joint that mimics the real thing, naturally, you want to fashion the joint with the utmost precision. You can use CNC machining to craft these prosthetics joints.
We don’t often think of dental implants as prosthetics. But if you think about it, teeth are bones, and we are adding something to help replace them if they face decay or fall out. And if CNC can help replace a joint or a limb, it can be used to craft a crown or some veneers.
Benefits of CNC Machining in the Medical Industry
Of course, these functions can potentially be performed by other means—manually, for instance. So, why turn to CNC machining? There are several benefits of CNC machining in the medical industry.
One word we have used over and over again is precision, and for a good reason. Whether measuring medications or performing an incision, precision is everything in the medical industry, and this is certainly true of the CNC applications we have listed.
CNC machining helps eliminate human error when it comes to creating things with precision identically. There are multiple ways CNC machining accomplishes this, depending on the type of motors.
As mentioned, there are multiple reasons you might need to use a CNC machine in the medical field. Because of that, there is a high need to be able to build a variety of different items, or even multiple of the same items but with different dimensions.
The beauty of the computer-generated nature of CNC machining is that you can load a variety of CAD files onto the machine in order to develop a unique cutting program to fit the model you need. You can also keep making as many of the same items as you need.
Additionally, the machines work with an assortment of materials, such as:
- Acrylic resin
- Stainless steel
That means that even if you need to craft a piece with parts made of several different materials, such as a prosthetic limb, you can use the same CNC machine.
The thought of keeping a piece of machinery as large as a CNC machine can be intimidating for some hospitals. After all, with all the lab and surgical equipment already in the space, it’s not always clear where you would be able to put a large piece of factory machinery, let alone if your facility would be able to supply the amount of power the machine would need to run.
However, there are some CNC machines that can fit into a single room and others that are small enough to fit onto a desk. These smaller machines don’t require nearly as much power as their larger counterparts, though some of their functions may differ.
Most industries treasure efficiency from a profit standpoint. The more quickly you can produce quality products, the higher your profit will be. However, efficiency has an almost higher value in the medical field.
Consider some of the primary uses of CNC machining in the medical field—prosthetic limbs, hip replacement joints, dental implants. The faster these items are made, the faster a person can eat without hindrance, move around without pain, and walk or grip without a problem.
The medical field is always pushing forward, and we can push forward with it. As your medical facility advances forward with a CNC machine at its side, Industrial Automation Co. is here with all the parts you need to keep your machinery up and running.