When people think about Swiss machining, they often think of Swiss watches. Indeed, this is where the origins of Swiss machining began. Watchmakers in Switzerland in the late 1800s wanted to manufacture more precision components for watches. Pocket watches were becoming less popular, and watchmakers wanted to make wristwatches instead. However, the machinery at the time wasn’t capable of making these precision components, so that was a problem.
A watchmaker, Jakob Schweizer, developed a process and machine to solve this problem. In the early days, these machines were called “plate machines” and became known as Swiss machines when the machines were used outside of Switzerland.
Today, these Swiss turning machines manufacture much more than watch components. Known as Swiss style-CNC lathe machines, they produce components for the automotive, defense, and electronics industries and the medical industry, where they are used to machine precision medical implant devices.
How Does a CNC Machine Work?
In CNC precision machining, the material is placed on a rotating chuck. When the bars of materials are in place, a special tool removes the material to create the precision component. This tooling mounts on a computer-controlled turret, so it is an automated process. Swiss machining can fabricate many materials, including silicon nitride and silicon carbide. Silicon carbide is known for its hardness.
Swiss Machining and Medical Implant Devices
The medical industry is one of the most consistent manufacturing sectors, and demand for components is always high. Swiss machining is perfect for medical implant devices. These machines are also automated, which means they can create many medical implants quickly and at one time, which helps meet the high demand and keep costs manageable.
Some of these micro-implants include:
- Bone anchors
- Cardiology devices, such as catheters and stents
- Minimally invasive surgical equipment like laparoscopic devices
- Dental equipment
- Cannulated bone screws
- Microvascular components
- Wound care (clips, suture anchors, and staples)
- Orthopedic devices, such as components for joint replacement
Swiss machining lathes can machine with tolerances of +/- .0001”. The machines must be fully operational and have no flaws. Otherwise, precision components will not be fabricated to specification.
Having qualified technicians to operate the machines is also imperative. Knowledge of inspection, handling, tool handling, and secondary operations is a must. It’s also vital for companies that use Swiss machining to be informed of the latest technologies. It’s wise for those who use these machines to devote some profit toward R&D to ensure they are well-informed of new technologies. With high medical device demand, new technologies will be included in the future.
Contact IRD Glass today for more information and to schedule a call.