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Surgical instruments with electronic serial numbers
Date:2/28/2011

This release is available in German.

Be it a heart transplant or a Cesarean section, every operation requires a wide variety of surgical instruments, from simple retractors, clamps, scalpels and scissors to more specialist devices such as cerclage wire passers, which surgeons employ to repair long, oblique fractures in bones. These are shaped in such a way as to half encircle the broken bone, and incorporate a hollow channel. In a process not unlike stringing a parcel for posting, thread or wire is fed through the channel around the damaged bone and then knotted in place, both to support the bone and to hold the broken parts together. "Until now, it has always been time-consuming and expensive to manufacture surgical instruments featuring this kind of channel," says Claus Aumund-Kopp of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Bremen. Because it is nigh-on impossible to machine curved channels, shaped tubes have traditionally had to be cast, or else welded or soldered retrospectively.

At the MEDTEC Europe trade show in Stuttgart from March 22 through 24 (Hall 6, Booth 6211), the Bremen-based scientists will be presenting a technique that enables the manufacture of surgical instruments of any shape, even those with complex interiors like channels, or those with integrated RFID chips. The technique in question is laser melting. Originally developed for the production of industrial prototypes, this manufacturing method uses an extremely fine laser beam to melt a powder material into almost any desired form, one layer at a time.

"Nowadays, laser melting is a mature technology, which has already proved its worth in the manufacture of medical implants," states Aumund-Kopp. Like all generative i.e. bottom-up manufacturing techniques, it has two major advantages: First, unlike in turning, drill
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Contact: Claus Aumund-Kopp
claus.aumund-kopp@ifam.fraunhofer.de
49-421-224-6226
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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