Endoscopes less than 20mm in size typically have between 10 and 20 very tiny, working (sliding, gear-meshing, and tight tolerance stack-up) components. MES manufactures such devices in stages ensuring that the initial designs can be micro-machined until the assembly nuances are worked out. Surface and metrology data (and in-depth tolerance stack-up analysis) are established using assembly solid modeling, which is not only vital in terms of the form, fit, function of the working device, but also provides critical data used in automated assembly fixtures.
Micro machining is a low-capital expense process that MES uses for the pilot production of endoscopes. When the design is “frozen” (i.e. testing has been completed, the part has been validated, assembled, and its functionally tested via accelerated age testing, ship testing, and sterility testing), the next level of production — when volumes increase and capital expenses can support a return on the capital investment for tooling, sintering, fixtures, and a more in-depth validation — may include micro metal injection molding.
Micro thermoplastic molding is also a viable alternative for some stainless endoscope components using strong and friction-friendly materials such as PEEK, ULTEM, and POLYCARBONATE, etc.