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

ing or milling, hardly any material is wasted; and second, there are no production-related restrictions on the shape or interior structure of the workpiece. "The designer can focus exclusively on the surgeon's stated requirements," says the engineer. For surgical instruments, either cobalt-chromium steel or titanium powders could be used both are standard materials in generative manufacturing. Although no-one has yet begun using the laser melting technique to produce surgical instruments, Aumund-Kopp believes it would be an ideal manufacturing method: "Even small quantities of customized surgical instruments incorporating completely new functions could easily be produced in this way," he reports. 3-dimensional model on a computer is the only template needed; intermediate stages, including the production of special tools or casting molds, are eliminated.

Steel components that are produced using laser melting technology also demonstrate particular electrical properties. Normally, metals shield against electromagnetic radiation such as radio waves, so whenever an RFID chip is cast in metal, a small opening must be left above it, otherwise it will not be readable. But this is not necessary with laser-melted instruments; even though they are completely shrouded in metal, the integrated RFID chips are still able to transmit and receive over short distances. "We assume that the layered structure of the material shapes the field in such a way that the chips remain readable despite their metal covering," explains Aumund-Kopp. This could prove advantageous in the operating room: After every operation, all surgical instruments have to be cleaned, sterilized and counted; if they had integrated RFID chips, quantities and individual numerical codes could be checked quickly and easily and could be electronically linked to the operation report or to specific instrument data such as date of manufacture, protocols for use or current state of cleanliness.


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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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