Software boosts throughput of micro-molding process: after bringing in PowerSOLUTIONS last year, Oscor Inc. has never looked back.

Position:Medical manufacturing

Oscor Inc. designs, develops, manufactures, and markets a variety of highly specialized permanent and temporary pacing lead systems. The company's pacing leads are used in connection with third-party pacemakers--both implantable and temporary pacemakers systems--that are used to treat cardiac bradyarrhythmias (an adult heart rate below 60 beats per minute) and other coronary disorders.

Oscor's proprietary lead technologies have also led it to develop new lead systems for a variety of cardiac and non-cardiac (nerve) applications. These include catheters and channels for introducing a drug or other substance into the body.

According to Ed Smith, chief of manufacturing engineering at Oscor, "most of the work is OEM leads. And we take care of the entire process, from component design to mold building, component manufacturing, and sterile packaging and labeling in-house. Oscor, on its higher volume parts, produces in the range of 100,000 parts per month. Typical tolerances are 0.0002" What we do is micro-molding."

To produce the leads, Oscor operates a state-of-the-art facility that includes high-speed CNC vertical mills and a Roku Roku turning center served by a robotic loading system.

"We have a total of four high-speed milling machines, two of which--the Moil Seiki's--are for metalcutting, the others are for graphite electrodes," Smith reports. "All can run at 20,000rpm. The CNC mills we use are very small cutters--down to 0.005" diameter ball milling cutter for the electrodes." And the Delcam software helps make the delicate machining process possible.

There are six Star Swiss turning machines to produce the ends of the lead systems, parts so small they are caught in an Altoids candy tin. Then these parts are inspected during production in three dimensions to 0.02mm with an OGP non-contact optical measuring machine--as they are too small to handle.

The mills machine the molds used to produce the tiny leads and tines for the catheters.

To develop the machining programs for the Moil Seiki's, Smith, formerly a manufacturing consultant, introduced Delcam CAD software into Oscor. "We now use PowerSHAPE and PowerMILL for our mills and PartMaker--another Delcam company--for our Swiss turning machines. The Mitsubishi wire EDM is run by Partmaker Wire. I've always liked Delcam because it is not a limited product, it has a lot of flexibility for the user built into it," Smith says.

The first advantage is that the Delcam software communicates...

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