3/5/13 Of the products that we have in micro machining, some are machined and some are molded using a micro-machined tool. There is a life cycle curve for these processes. Right at the beginning of this lifecycle curve we have tens of thousands of parts in the R&D stage; in the next cycle the Growth Stage we have millions of parts and in the last cycle the Mature Product we have millions of millions of parts.
Some of the parts in the R&D phase include:
• catheter tips
• resorbable polymer implants – a resorbable polymer is PLA (polylactic acid). That polymer would be introduced/implanted into the body and turned into carbon dioxide & water and it would be flushed from the system when it has done its job. That material is between $3,000 and $22,000 a pound so it is good to use it in the micro fashion because you don’t use a lot of material.
• micro filtration – filters very small particles in a liquid form or a powder form.
• fuel cells
• ophthalmic implants – lenses, behind the eye, plug that is implanted in the tear duct, hydrogel and collagen type products
• anchors – that would be used to secure devices that go with catheters or introduced via endoscope
• suture devices
• implantable chips
Some of the parts in the Growth Phase include:
• surgical tools
• portable electronics
• ink-jet components – with very small inkjet orifices to deposit the ink
• pump components
• fiber optics
• LED lenses
• hearing aids
• drug delivery
Some of the parts in the Mature Phase (cost reduction mode) include:
• biopsy jaws
• surgical instruments
Some of the features in part sizes we can achieve in micro-machined in micro-molded components:
• wall thicknesses down 0.001” – A human hair is 0.004”. We can create geometry in both steel or polymer that is ¼ of a hair size thickness. There are challenges involved with this, but we are very comfortable in the 0.002”-0.003” wall thickness range.
• surface features to 0.0001”
• tip radius for sharp points < 0.0007” – for needles and needle arrays. To puncture skin a needle requires a sharp tip radius less than 0.001”
• 500+ parts per plastic pellet – this is the smallest molded component we have made, making sure we use as much of the pellet as possible to save waste and money