The Star CNC SX-38 Type B, a 12-axis, compact Swiss-style machine with slant-bed construction, maximizes productivity for difficult-to-machine materials up to 42mm diameter. The capability to keep 80 tools resident with high horsepower motors means heavy metal removal rates and flexibility. B-axis surfacing with up to 135° travel handles up to 0.5" diameter tooling. Software technologies increase effectiveness including:
Star CNC’s High Frequency Turning (HFT) software: Handles chip control in tough materials
Star CNC’s motion control system: Optimizes programs to reduce cycle time
Star Monitoring and Operator Support System (SMOSS-i): Allows remote monitoring with real-time efficiency reporting and operator intervention predictability
This high-functioning, large-diameter model – with gang-type and turret-type tool posts – serves the precision machining requirements demanded by the medical, automotive, and aviation industries.
It’s an 800 lb beast, a massive component with seven uniquely machined features. It arrives at Schleifring Medical Systems’ Elgin, Illinois, shop partially assembled, making it nearly impossible to get inside to measure for accuracy and range.
Operators had to use a crane to manually flip the component in multiple directions to measure all critical features and obtain the required dimensions. Not only did this slow the production process, it posed a significant safety concern for workers. Schleifring sought an alternate solution that would save time, streamline the process, ensure quality, and make production easier for its operators.
Schleifring considered portable measuring arms, laser applications, and bridge-type coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). Due to the part’s tolerancing, the company determined that a portable measuring arm wouldn’t be accurate enough or have the reach to meet requirements. And while laser measuring systems would have increased accuracy compared to portable measuring arms, the high cost of laser applications at the time made this option prohibitive.
In the end, Schleifring opted for a CMM as the best solution. In weighing its options, top criteria considered included:
Size: The CMM needed to fit within company parameters, a large-part manufacturer, not a high-volume manufacturer
Safety: Chosen machine would have to accommodate measurement without moving the part
Location: Machine would need to fit within a specific location inside the facility that would make it easy to service
Mitutoyo America Corp. worked with Eric Baumler and Ryan Losacco, members of the Assurance TechnologiesInc. sales team, who already had a longstanding relationship with Schleifring. After comparisons, the company chose to purchase the Mitutoyo Crysta-Apex S2030-16 CMM. The company found that no other machine would be large enough or fast enough to reach required distances or provide the accuracy and repeatability needed per part. An added bonus was that, due to the CMM’s integrated temperature probe, installation, and housing, it didn’t have to be limited to a closed-off, temperature-controlled environment.
Since implementing the CMM, Schleifring part inspection time has fallen from 45-to-60 minutes across two different setups to 25 minutes using one setup (no flipping), reducing inspection time up to 58% and alleviating final inspection bottlenecks.
With the aid of custom fixturing created by the Mitutoyo Custom Solutions Group, it can handle 4,000kg of parts, and operators no longer have to manually adjust an 800 lb product. Operators can perform difficult measurement processes more safely and easily, and parts can be fully assembled and tested for final critical features.
The company also realized an unexpected but welcome benefit: more information available. With the embedded statistical MeasurLink software, operators can easily see high and low points, resulting in a physical representation of where issues exist that was not possible with the old equipment. Another unexpected benefit, at least for Schleifring, is that Mitutoyo is practically in its backyard.
“In terms of getting up to speed on the new machine, as a small company we don’t always have time to devote to learning the nuances, tips, and tricks of operation,” says Cathi Kirchner, Schleifring quality manager. “Being able to have Mitutoyo field service technicians come onsite to answer questions or give little primers has been a great help.”
Advice Schleifring would give other organizations looking to make a switch and invest in a large-capacity CMM, they stress the importance of training. Make sure the CMM manufacturer offers comprehensive training – onsite and virtual – and that employees take advantage of it on an ongoing basis. Also, make sure the CMM can measure anything – small, medium, large parts – so one investment can cover an array of future products.
“The machine takes up a lot of real estate,” Kirchner notes. “Make sure you have room for it somewhere. And be sure to get production buy-in early to make the transition installation as seamless as possible.”
SP Pro Twist by Status Pro can help install, move, and align CNC machine tools. Offering precision measurements to 1µm, it consists of two µLevel Spirit Levels using Bluetooth to communicate to an Android-based smartphone or Windows- based PC for fast, efficient measurement of straightness and parallelism. The device can also provide simultaneous measurement of pitch and roll, as well as differential measurement.
The system can be used as a standalone instrument, or with advanced software that guides the user through each step, documenting results. Each µLevel can be used independently or together, with one unit serving as a continuous reference.
The SP ProTwist system comes with Proline Software for linear guide alignment for professional analysis and evaluation, producing graphics output in .pdf format. Reports can also be exported in .csv format for more detailed analysis. When combined with a laser distance meter (D140), the system works automatically; start the measurement, stop at a certain position, values are captured, the 3D chart is updated with new measurements.
The DS-Vision advanced solvent dispenser reliably bonds medical tubing, improving quality and lowering the rate of non-compliant plastic bonded products. The built-in quality control system ensures operators are properly following each production step through the use of visual and sound cues. In addition, downloadable production metrics help managers control and evaluate post-production outcomes, and inform future production planning.
DS-Vision’s full-color touchscreen display provides real-time productivity information for solvent dispensing.
Doing a monthly column about the business of MedTech is rewarding, interesting, and exciting for us because we love this industry. And, as M&A practitioners, we enjoy working with the risk- takers who push our industry forward on multiple levels to benefit the practitioners and patients we serve.
Working with emerging technology companies and small- and medium-sized MedTech entities to maximize their stakeholder value is stimulating and satisfying.
We have learned many things while working alongside passionate entrepreneurs and innovators.
We are impressed by how many of you are working so hard on your product(s) to potentially save your grandmother’s life or the life of a friend or even someone you’ve never met.
As we thank healthcare workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic (and we should be forever grateful for their efforts), we want to also use this moment to thank you! We are grateful for you regardless of your title or position in your organization. Anyone who has created a new product, run an organization, sold or marketed a product that made a difference, or simply worked that extra shift to ensure clinicians have what they need to save patients’ lives, we thank you!
We are grateful for your work and we are proud of your responsiveness to the volatility of this industry through upsides and downturns.
Unfortunately, this pandemic is creating almost unmanageable upside requirements for some while reducing business volume for others. Businesses related to critical care and respiratory products are racing every day to meet the new requirements to provide tools to those on the front lines.
If your business is related to elective procedures (some of which would become life threatening if not performed), you’re experiencing a downturn unlike any you may have seen in your time in the MedTech Industry.
Whether your company’s products are aiding current clinical needs to help COVID-19 patients or if you’re trying to find a way to hang on to your business as your revenue has been pushed out to later dates; we salute you!
In the former scenario, you and your colleagues are sacrificing your time and working every angle and every shift possible to meet the crushing demand. In the latter scenario, you and your colleagues are sacrificing revenues to allow pandemic priorities to take the lead. It can’t be easy but you’re doing it without complaint as you know these steps are also necessary to help frontline clinician heroes and clear the path for urgent patient priorities.
Whether you’re in the upswing demand or the downside drop, we appreciate you pushing through the volatility to continue to meet the spirit of what this MedTech Industry offers – rewards that money can never define while addressing clinical needs that benefit humankind. We sincerely hope that our family members never need your products. However, we are grateful that you are there in case they do.
And may you receive the accolades of grateful nations around the world!