One of the challenges in producing medical tools is that they must be completely free of the risk of corrosion, as rust on a medical tool can be catastrophic for a patient. Metals such as titanium are rust-proof, but are also very hard and can be difficult to cut with precision. Because of this, specific techniques are used to develop and manufacture the medical tools we depend on
What is EDM?
EDM, or Electrical Discharge Machining, is the process by which metals are cut or melted away by heating them with electric current. To do this precisely and safely takes a great deal of skill. There are multiple types of EDM machining, but the most common is wired EDM.
What is Wired EDM?
Wired EDM manufacturing services require two tools. The first is de-ionized water which conducts the electricity. The second is a wire which carries the electricity. This single strand wire is generally made of brass. Because wired EDM can be used on very thin pieces of hard metal, such as titanium or carbide, craftsman can create hollows and very narrow cuts with no pressure on the metal being cut, making it even easier to meet very stringent guidelines. These cuts simply remove excess material, protecting the hard metal from any risk of bending or, more likely, shattering or snapping.
Very Small Tolerances
In addition to cutting while putting no pressure on the base material, EDM cuts can be made with wires smaller than a human hair. Medical tools, such as those that can fit inside an artery or along the spine, must be extremely precise and easy to sterilize before use. The tolerances inside these cutting tools have to be exact so that the sterilization process can be practiced exactly the same way each time, preventing any contamination from patient to patient over time.
Cutting and Finishing
EDM techniques can be used for both cutting and finishing the metal components of a medical tool. The more passes done by the wire, the smoother the surface. This is particularly crucial to the sterilization process, as any rough patches on a surgical cutting tool can be an ideal spot for bacteria to linger.
Wired EDM technology creates cutting tools of great accuracy while maintaining a very fine cutting surface. Applying any pressure to such a tiny blade with a standard cutting technology would result in a damaged or broken tool. EDM technology provides technicians the chance to shape extremely hardy metals down to a precision cutting edge.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing.