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Applying Tech: Orthopedics—Part 1

Wed, 06/29/2011 - 11:48am

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How are you influencing orthopedic devices?


Larry Carlberg
GKS Service Bureau Manager, GKS Global Services

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Orthopedic devices, with their focus on fit and support for the human form, are advancing rapidly as we learn more about how to optimally heal and rehab injuries. GKS Global Services specializes in 3D laser scanning, which can produce a fast, precise CAD model of whatever body part is affected, thus ensuring that the orthopedic devices professionals use with their patients are customized to prevent further injury or misalignment and promote comfort and compliance.

The amorphous organic shapes of the human body are very nearly impossible to accurately reproduce with traditional contact and manual measuring methods. Non-contact 3D laser scanning excels in quickly capturing a free-form object’s complete geometry, no matter how complex, detailed, or malleable. Applications of the technology include device development, fit, and redesign; device inspection and validation; and mass customization through rapid manufacturing. Even replacement parts and training programs for medical professionals can be created with the ultra-accurate 3D data of objects via 3D laser scanning.

Also, robotic integration in manufacturing is paving the way for 3D scanning applications in human prosthetics; the superior capture of human shapes by 3D laser scanning results in CAD files that easily interface with the robotic computer-controlled motions, vastly improving the prosthetics’ appearance, motion, and fabrication process.


Jim Stertz
Quality Manager, Lowell Inc.

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Lowell Inc., a precision machining company, is investing in automating its PMM/CMM room. Lowell has added a six axes Motoman HP20 robot that tends our Leitz PMM-C 700 laboratory grade scanning CMM and Brown & Sharpe EXCEL CMM. We added the robot to increase productivity and shorten inspection times. We had already invested in a 450 square foot, climate controled space that maintains a temperature variation of <0.9° F for the high end metrology equipment. Automation was the next natural step. Now, instead of a human laboriously tending the two machines, the Motoman robot does the work. Lowell did the entire project itself, including the programming, racking, palletizing, and barrier systems that allow the robot to work safely.

The robot runs virtually 24/7, freeing the operator to perform higher level tasks, such as creating test programs and data analysis. Lowell then uses the data points collected by its PMM/CMMs to create point clouds for analysis in its SmartProfile software system. Our investment in our Motoman robot is part of our automation strategy here at Lowell. Not to reduce the number of employees, but to allow our associates to perform higher level tasks and increase productivity.


Kyle Mullens
Director of Business Development-Orthopedics, Secant Medical, LLC

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Biomedical textiles play an integral role as an enabling technology to influence and advance next generation orthopedic devices. By combining the performance characteristics of advanced biomaterials with complex and hybrid textile construction methods, biomedical textiles offer device engineers the versatility and flexibility to vastly expand the options for device designs, delivery methods, performance, and other benefits critical to innovation.

Biomedical textiles are playing an increased role in soft tissue fixation and anchoring devices, and for high static and dynamic load applications, such as long bone fixation, spinal stabilization, tendon repair, and ligament replacement. Through the use of resorbable polymers, textile composites are engineered from hybrid materials to allow for designing-in structural degradation or temporary biomechanical reinforcement, or temporary 3D scaffold matrices that function as “ordered growth” environments for orthobiologic and cell-based technologies.

With their unique fabric geometries, versatile fiber architectures, and combinations of performance biomaterials, biomedical textiles provide a platform technology that can help transform orthopedic device designs, yield minimally invasive delivery techniques, and enhance the ability of device manufacturers to develop new technologies and device benefits to treat new therapeutic areas and achieve competitive advantages.


Steve Twork
Global Medical Device & Analytical Equipment Market Manager, Bal Seal Engineering Inc.

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At Bal Seal Engineering, we’re positively impacting this industry by giving engineers the ability to seal and mechanically connect their designs in ways that are both reliable and predictable.

Our Canted-coil springs are helping device designers meet biocompatibility, durability, and insertion/breakaway force accuracy requirements. By performing latching, locking, and holding functions with engineered precision, these simple springs are allowing orthopedic devicesfrom implants to drill guides and external fixatorsto work better and remain in service longer.

And our seals, with their unique spring energizers and custom material compositions, are protecting motors and other critical components in powered surgical tools from potential damage caused by the ingress of bodily fluids and debris.

In addition to providing sealing and connecting solutions, we’re also applying our application experience to continually help device OEMs make technology advances.

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