TESco Associates Inc. (Tyngsborough, MA), a developer of bio-absorbable polymeric medical implants, has implemented an OptiGauge thickness measurement system from Lumetrics (West Henrietta, NY), resulting in dramatically reduced product development time for complex medical tubing.
The OptiGauge has provided never-before obtainable data regarding physical attributes of custom polymer-based tubing under development at TESco. The use of the thickness measurement system, along with an automated tubing analysis fixture, allows TESco to quickly and accurately determine size and form characteristics of a challenging product design.
“Originally intended to be a quality control instrument for monitoring production, the OptiGauge has allowed us to quickly and easily determine the geometry of our tubing during development,” says Andy Thatcher, associate manager, operations and client relations, TESco. “This information has enabled us to immediately identify abnormalities in prototypes, isolate the cause and take corrective actions. The speed with which we were able to make changes to the process as we moved from startup to fine-tuning, reduced the time to produce qualified product from four to six months to just weeks.”
TESco’s challenge was to provide precise dimensions and geometry for their customer, using new raw materials and manufacturing methods. “The Lumetrics’ OptiGauge can identify very small product irregularities, which our manufacturing equipment supplier then used to fine-tune their systems, dramatically reducing the time required to produce tubing that met our customer’s specifications,” says Thatcher.
Lumetrics’ OptiGauge super luminescent technology uses optical, noncontact techniques to provide highly accurate dimensions and form characteristics of thin-walled medical devices. This eliminates human error in associated manufacturing and quality control processes of products such as stents, catheters and balloons.
As a part of TESco’s OptiGauge system, Lumetrics also provided a semi-automated tubing fixture that is capable of simultaneously measuring wall thickness, ID, OD, concentricity and ovality of a tubular product in seconds-to submicron accuracies. These metrics can be integrated into a quality control database, where comparisons with expected dimensions can be used to generate pass/fail recommendations in real time. Speed, accuracy and reliability all far exceed traditional measurement methods.
“We work closely with our customers to provide individualized fixturing and software in an integrated manufacturing environment” says Steve Heveron-Smith, vice president of sales and marketing, Lumetrics. “We pride ourselves in providing full solutions as part of a partnership with our customers, to meet their specific measurement needs.”