It’s that time of year again: Compamed (14 to 16 November) and Medica (14 to 17 November) will open their doors again next Wednesday in Düsseldorf, Germany. Compamed, the specialist trade fair for suppliers to the medical manufacturing market, will once again present a comprehensive spectrum of high-tech solutions for the medical technology industry – from new materials, components, preliminary products, packaging materials and services right down to microtechnology. Medica will again showcase the entire range of new products and services for the healthcare industry, including electromedical equipment, laboratory technology, orthopaedic technology, medical commodities and consumables, information and communication technology, medical furniture as well as special room furnishing and building technology for hospitals and operating rooms.
At Compamed, for instance, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting its newly discovered laser manufacturing technique for structuring transparent materials. With this technique, it is now possible to manufacture assembled components made of transparent materials such as glass from a single block – with micrometer accuracy.
According to Fraunhoer, the new laser manufacturing technique shortens the manufacturing process for microcomponents made from transparent materials and reduces the amount of material and energy used. Now the scientists have applied in-volume selective laser etching (ISLE) to the manufacture of composite and assembled parts, meaning that there is no longer any need to adjust and assemble individual components in micromechanical systems. The exposure time for a gear wheel already mounted on a shaft and fitted inside a housing is only around 15 minutes using the ISLE technique.
And this is how the process works: Using ultrashort pulsed laser radiation, a transparent work piece is exposed in the volume with 3-D resolution at precisely the areas where material is to be removed. The material is chemically and physically changed and therefore gets selectively etchable. In the subsequent wet-chemical etching process, the exposed material is removed, while the unexposed material is scarcely affected by the etching process. This process makes it possible to manufacture microchannels, shaped holes, structured parts, and complex, composite mechanical components and systems. The ISLE technique can also be used for sapphire and glass as well as ruby. It is reproducible and ensures that components are geometrically identical in series production, while also offering a high degree of geometric and design freedom. Shapes with micrometer accuracy, as well as kerfs and bores with extremely large aspect ratios, can also be produced thanks to the small focus volume.
Visit the Fraunhofer ILT at Compamed in Düsseldorf from 14 to 16 November in hall 8a, stand F34.Yvonne Klöpping