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Workholding for molecule-accurate medical technology

Workholding for molecule-accurate medical technology A specialist UK manufacturer of medical devices now has machining processes to produce stainless steel components used in metering equipment so accurate it can measure down to individual molecules. Due to a recent increase in demand, the company asked WDS to upgrade the existing workholding solution to enable machine capacity to quadruple; allowing a two stage drilling and reaming operation to be completed four-up on a new 5-axis CNC machine.

The components known as 'ion blocks' required many small holes to be drilled and reamed into them. This type of complex component required a specialised workholding solution to ensure fast changeovers, repeatability and accuracy over the two stage machining operation. WDS engineers were able to design a cube fixture solution which would allow four-up components with precision chucks for the first machining operation and bespoke fixture plates to locate and bolt the components for the final finish milling operation.

Nick Gautier, project and technical sales engineer for WDS Fixturing Systems, comments: "The challenge was to develop a way of mounting four work pieces in a very tight area on the new 5-axis machine. WDS carried out a site visit to meet with the head engineer and measure the cutter paths and spindle clearances of the new machine to make sure our cube design would work. The components need to be extremely accurate and designed specifically for the application."

WDS has been supplying both off-the-shelf and bespoke fixturing and workholding systems for CNC machining applications since the very first CNCs were introduced. The company offers a range of core work piece support elements such as baseplates 3000mm x 1800mm; cubes and double siders up to 1000mm x 1.300mm and 3700mm x 2000mm jigs with boring capacity, all in cast iron or aluminium. They are an ideal fit for most machine centre pallet sizes and can easily be adapted for specialist applications such as this.

Gautier concludes: "When you are manufacturing medical equipment it is essential that components are held in place accurately and without risk of damage. We specialise in bespoke solutions to very high tolerances in a range of materials. In this instance our experience, in-house manufacturing capacity and site visits to inspect the CNC machine and discuss the solution with engineers on-site ensured we were then able to provide an ideal solution."

A catalogue is available that contains all of the company's standard Workholding components as well as its Ball Lock quick release and location system. Microloc workholding and fixture plates plus magnetic and hydraulic clamp systems are also available for grinding and milling applications - all of which can be integrated to meet individual application requirements. WDS Fixturing Systems is a BS EN ISO 9001, 2000 department running fully compliant quality and design systems.
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