As people live longer lives, the unfortunate probability of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease rises. However, advances in medical technology, including minimally invasive surgical techniques, can help us remain healthier for longer. This is one of the main reasons for the increased demand for medical equipment and specialized surgical tools. However, a recent report by GlobalDatai suggests that the rising cost of materials and shortages of components over the last few years have affected the medical device market, leading to healthcare providers proactively reevaluating their suppliers.
Custom Wire Technologies is a leading component manufacturer that offers a wide range of value-added services to increase the efficiency and success rate of its customer’s projects. These include cleanroom assembly, laser and plasma welding, laser marking, medical device pad printing, custom guidewire assemblies, wire EDM cutting, electropolishing, PTFE coating and passivation. Professional guidance and advice throughout the process ensure your medical device projects go more smoothly and successfully.
Receiving outstanding value from your supplier is crucial for customers in a high-inflation environment, and it pays for suppliers to have a positive relationship with their clients. This is where value-added services can make a difference. These services go beyond the basic offering and aim to provide customers with added convenience, customization, and value. By enhancing the functionality of core offerings, the supplier can meet the evolving needs of clients to stay competitive in the market.
A Closer Look at the Value-Added Services Available at CWT
Cleanrooms and Cleanroom Assembly – Cleanrooms offer comprehensive manufacturing, assembly, and packaging services for medical device makers, ensuring quality components and sub-assemblies for OEMs, designers, and researchers. They adhere to strict cleanliness standards for bioburden-sensitive component assembly and certified cleanroom packaging.
Laser and Plasma Welding – Joins ultra-fine wire components together, especially small-diameter medical wire. Implementing this service into the manufacturing process can dramatically minimize lead time and supply chain problems on complex devices. Most common welding projects include stents, hypotubes, guidewires, ball tips, sensors, cannulas, and needles.
Laser Marking – Adds unique identifiers to a range of parts. Depth bands can also be added to guidewires, K-wires, and pins to give an end-user visual indication of how far a component can be inserted.
Ink Pad Printing – Used for a range of medical product marks. Medical-class black ink is used to depth label orthopedic pins or to issue product number IDs to meet FDA tracking requirements. Catheters, tubing, K-wires, and a range of stainless steel and nitinol components are commonly printed on.
Passivation – The application of a light coat, such as metal oxide, to form a shell that protects guidewires and pins against corrosion. While creating the passive chromium oxide layer, this technique removes any free iron from the surface of stainless steel. Passivation is used on guidewires, K-wires, core wires, coils, mandrels, Steinmann pins, and stylets.
Electropolishing – An electrochemical procedure that shines the surface of steel by selectively dissolving the high points. Metal is removed from the surface, resulting in a stress and occlusion-free unidirectional pattern. This procedure is applicable to guidewires, K-wires, core wires, coils, mandrels, Steinmann pins, and stylets.
PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) Coatings – A versatile coating material, with a wide range of applications due to its hydrophobic, non-wetting, high density, and resistance to high temperatures. Best known for its non-stick qualities (Teflon™), it can be applied using spray or dip technology, with a selection of colors, compositions, and thicknesses.
Wire EDM Cutting – Electrical discharge machining (spark machining) is a metal production process that uses electrical discharges to achieve a desired shape. Used to manufacture tooling and fixtures using 3D CAD models and effective for difficult geometries and materials such as nitinol.
How Value-Added Services Can Reduce Complex Supply Chains
While CWT provides their customers with all the traditional services, they also have the experience to tackle more complex devices.
“Often customers aren’t aware of the exact processes needed to produce their products,” notes Jim Boldig, CWT director of sales and engineering. “CWT can help break down and identify the proper steps to successfully manufacture the components. Vertical integration is essential, so it is important to have as many services as possible in-house to be most efficient for the customer, who doesn’t like complex supply chains and long lead times.”
“We have custom assembly services in our ISO Class 7 cleanroom,” says Boldig, “and laser and plasma welding workstations join metal-based components; soldering and adhesive bonding stations join dissimilar materials. Additionally, our ink-pad printing equipment, within our cleanroom, is available for sensitive projects. Printing is advantageous over other methods when the substrate is extremely thin or fragile. We also have printing equipment outside of the cleanroom to support rapid prototyping.”
Further, CWT has recently invested in a new 500 sq. ft. washroom, where most of its ultrasonic cleaning will take place, along with citric passivation.
In-House Laser Marking Services Offer Efficiency and Value
One of the latest innovations at CWT is laser marking. First offered five years ago as a limited service, the department has now tripled in size due to increased demand. Laser marking is utilized most by the grinding department for depth markers, part identifiers, part numbers, lot numbers, and UDI codes. Depth markers give end users anatomically correct location marks, with customizable size and fonts, and additional ability to mark logos and barcodes.
CWT also provides services that depend on partnerships with other local and regional component processors, offering wire EDM cutting, electropolishing, and PTFE coating. Boldig notes: “These unique collaborations offer some of the best technical know-how in the medical device industry. Being within our geographic region, we can cut lead times and costs, reducing inefficiencies.”