MICRO PRECISION PARTS MANUFACTURING LTD.

Specialist in Micro Machining Solutions and Design - from concept to production

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Medical Technologies

A small Qualicum Beach business is playing a key role in a major medical advancement that could revolutionize surgical practices.

Micro Precision Parts Manufacturing Ltd., already a leader in the ceramic machining industry after just three years of operation, has been prototyping pieces for a medical sector client developing implants that could advance surgical methods by an estimated 30 years.

The parts are so intricate, explains Micro Precision owner Steve Cotton, that specialized custom cutters are required -- most of them with a diameter of less than a millimeter.

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This shop’s experience of successfully machining a micro aneurysm clip in silicon nitride ceramic points out the need to have CAD, CAM and CNC capability at high resolution—plus the commitment to pull it all together.

Article From: MMSOnline.com, Matt Danford , Editor

Despite its penchant for small parts, Micro Precision Parts Manufacturing (MPPM) had never seen a job like this. No bigger than a match head, the surgical aneurysm clip would require 1 million toolpath moves across an area measuring less than half an inch. If that weren’t daunting enough, consider that the clip is made of one of the hardest materials on Earth.

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From Cutting Tool Engineering Magazine May 2008



MICRO PRECISION PARTS MANUFACTURING LTD., Qualicum Beach, B.C., makes small parts for several applications, including advanced medical applications (see Productive Times on page 118 in this issue for more about the shop’s work). Micro Precision machines standard ferrous and nonferrous metals, as well as titanium and other exotic alloys, plastics and ceramics. Ceramics’ properties are ideal for medical applications, according to Steve Cotton, owner and president of Micro Precision. “Th e only problem is that they are very expensive to manufacture,” he said. “A part we can produce in titanium in 4 days takes 7 to 10 days in ceramic to achieve the same accuracy. Titanium and other materials are machined with carbide tools, but ceramics require diamond-impregnated grinding wheels. We tried a range of tools, some PCD, CBN and cubic zirconia, and they couldn’t touch ceramic. It just blew them up,” he said.

As an example of the challenges of dealing with ceramic parts, Cotton described machining a siliconnitride component for a neurological application. Ceramic was selected for its biocompatibility and nonconductive properties.

Micro Precision machined the ½"-long parts from solid blanks of silicon nitride. Th e parts featured complex 3-D contours with three contact surfaces, two of which specifi ed no tolerance. “Th ey had to be perfect,” Cotton said. Tolerances otherwise were ±0.0004".

The diamond-tipped tools Cotton applied included custom endmills as small as 0.016" in diameter, featuring grit as fi ne as 800 (25 microns) for fi nish passes. “If it’s a drill or an endmill,” he said, “you really need to be up about 150,000 rpm.” Th e small diameter tools had to be run at high rpm to produce suffi cient cutting speed.

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As published in NEUROSURGERY Magazine
www.neurosurgery-online.com

Garnette R. Sutherland, M.D.
Department of Clinical Neurosciences,
University of Calgary,
Calgary, Canada

John J.P. Kelly, M.D.
Department of Clinical Neurosciences,
University of Calgary,
Calgary, Canada

David W. Boehm
Concept Solutions, Inc.,
Langley, Canada

James B. Klassen
Concept Solutions, Inc.,
Langley, Canada
Reprint requests:
Garnette R. Sutherland, M.D.,
Department of Clinical Neurosciences,
University of Calgary,
Foothills Medical Centre,
1403 29th Street NW,
Calgary, Alberta, T2N 2T9, Canada.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Received, November 8, 2007.
Accepted, December 26, 2007.

There have been a number of advances in both design and material selection for aneurysm clips since Walter Dandy (3) used a V-shaped malleable silver clip to isolate an intracranial carotid aneurysm from the cerebral circulation. Over the past decade, the most significant advancement has been the development of magnetic resonance (MR)-compatible clips composed of a titanium alloy, Titanium-6Al-4V (1, 13, 28), or pure titanium (15). These aneurysm clips allow patients to be investigated with MR imaging (MRI), but the titanium alloy results in susceptibility artifact, making subsequent assessment of the aneurysm site problematic (9, 21, 24, 25, 27, 30). We describe the development of MR-compatible aneurysm clips that should not obscure the image of the aneurysm neck or associated parent and daughter vessels.

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