Bob Tarantino is president of New Jersey Precision Applied sciences, a Mountainside, New Jersey-based EDM service supplier.

Broaching has historically been thought-about essentially the most economical means of manufacturing medical screws, equivalent to cortical, cancellous, lag bone, and transfixation which might be used to safe implants within the physique and precisely place units used throughout surgical procedures. But at the moment, sinker electrical discharge machining (EDM) – also referred to as conventional EDM, or ram EDM – has confirmed to supply efficiency benefits in comparison with broaching, turning into a cost-competitive different.

Sometimes, the screws that stay within the physique following a surgical process, bone screws, are comprised of both titanium or cobalt chrome, whereas screws solely used throughout the surgical course of are comprised of stainless-steel. Whereas machining on a pc numeric management (CNC) Swiss-type machine is essentially the most generally used course of for producing medical screw threads, there are different strategies for creating the screw’s driving function, the inner form of the screw head together with hex, hexalobular (Torx), squares, and plenty of customer-specified shapes.

Broaching screw heads

Producers usually use broaching strategies to create screw head inner shapes. Broaching makes use of a instrument to take away materials in a linear or rotary style. In linear broaching, the instrument runs linearly in opposition to the floor of the workpiece to provide a lower. In rotary broaching, the broach is rotated and pressed into the workpiece to chop a form.

To create that screw-head inner form with sinker EDM, an electrode and the workpiece are submerged in a dielectric liquid and subjected to an electrical voltage. Though the electrode and workpiece don’t make contact, present move between the 2 causes reversely charged supplies to be eliminated, creating a variety of shapes in lots of sorts of conductive supplies.

Medical screw-head inner shapes have to be utterly burr-free, correct, constant, structurally sound, and economically producible in brief turnaround occasions. The screws additionally must be produced in all kinds of sizes, shapes, and supplies. Whereas many producers use broaching, the sinker EDM course of meets all of those necessities and exceeds the capabilities of broaching.

EDM benefits

A few of the medical screw head options produced on Mitsubishi EDMs at NJPT

Burr-free – Any kind of burr left behind after a producing course of has the potential to finally detach and trigger affected person discomfort (or worse). Broaching, a high-impact technique of metallic elimination, has the potential for producing burrs as instruments put on. Sinker EDM is a material-erosion course of, so no chips are produced. Additionally, with no contact between the sinker EDM instrument (the electrode) and the workpiece, there isn’t a instrument put on that may trigger burrs within the bone screw’s driving function.

Accuracy – Broaching has confirmed to be an correct technique of manufacturing so long as the broaching instrument stays in good situation, however sinker EDM is extra correct. The sinker EDM course of can maintain 0.0002″ whole tolerance on dimension and 0.0005″ whole tolerance on depth. This functionality is turning into extra necessary as prospects tighten their product tolerances to guarantee the driving instrument inserts the screw as effortlessly and successfully as attainable throughout surgical procedure.

Consistency – Broaching yields good part-to-part consistency however is extremely depending on the fabric being lower and the broaching instrument’s situation. Sinker EDM yields extra constant outcomes as a result of absence of instrument put on. Electrodes are redressed after each run to guarantee optimum efficiency. Mitsubishi sinker EDM machines present constant spark gaps throughout the manufacturing course of, whereas System 3R tooling gives positioning repeatability resulting from pallets that align and safe electrode holders with screw holders.

Structural integrity – A quick, high-impact manufacturing course of, broaching can introduce stress to the work piece, doubtlessly resulting in materials degradation that always can’t be seen instantly however can result in untimely half failure. With no instrument contact or heat-affected zones created on a component, sinker EDM doesn’t introduce such stresses, enhancing structural integrity of medical units.

Economical, brief turnaround time – Linear and rotary broaching are quick operations that may meet the wants of low-cost, short-turnaround manufacturing. Nevertheless, advances in sinker EDM know-how and tooling have diminished processing prices for this different. For instance, custom-designed, multiple-electrode half holders accommodate multi-up purposes the place as many as 100 components might be accomplished in a single manufacturing cycle. Corporations equivalent to New Jersey Precision Technologies Inc. (NJPT) have quite a few machines that may produce multi-up jobs, assuring brief manufacturing turnaround time. Likewise, tooling prices – all the time a supply of concern on sinker EDM operations – have been vastly diminished as a result of massive stock of electrode dimensions and shapes. For instance, with greater than 1,000 screw and form configurations already a part of NJPT’s tooling library, it’s doubtless most prospects wouldn’t incur tooling prices. If a buyer requires an electrode dimension bigger than one in stock, the Mitsubishi CNC Sinker EDM machines can orbit in any sample to attain the desired dimension.

A few of the medical screw head options produced on Mitsubishi EDMs at NJPT

Number of half sizes, shapes, and supplies – Steel chopping processes, together with broaching, have historically confronted quite a few challenges when producing titanium and cobalt-chrome components for the medical business. The issue of dealing with these supplies diminishes with sinker EDM dealing with any conductive materials equally nicely. Broaching can solely machine inner shapes which might be produced on the broach (and within the case of rotary broaching, might be rotated) and is restricted to producing flat or uniform bases in a driving function.

Sinker EDM can provide any formed driving function equivalent to a three-dimensional side-wall form with tapers and non-perpendicular aspect partitions. It might additionally make the bottom of the screw-driving function any three-dimensional contour or form and might even produce a multi-step function if required.

Shifting to EDM

NJPT machinists use Mitsubishi wire EDMs to provide 45° angle wire-cuts with no particular fixturing.

There isn’t any doubt that sinker EDM has discovered a spot within the manufacture of multi-feature screws used within the medical business. Many medical gadget producers are already calling for sinker EDM as the popular means of producing the inner options of medical screw heads.

The constraints of sinker EDM as a viable different to broaching have all however disappeared due to quite a few advances in know-how and tooling. State-of-the-art energy provides within the newest sinker EDM machines have vastly diminished warmth on the level of metallic elimination. Consequently, designers can specify distinctive, thinner-walled options within the screw head to cut back price with out adversely affecting a product’s efficiency all through its life cycle (or the worry of cracking or snapping off a screw head when broached).

New Jersey Precision Applied sciences Inc.

In regards to the creator: Bob Tarantino, president of New Jersey Precision Applied sciences, might be reached at or or 800.409.3000.

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