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Catheters are thin tubes extruded from medical grade materials most often used to treat diseases or perform medical procedures. Some catheters have end attachments such as cameras, micro-drills, balloons for fluid collection and more. Some catheter designs are manufactured by carefully wrapping thin wire around a core material, coating the entire ‘spring’structure in an outer protective material, and then using a laser to mark the catheter in even increments to assist with measurement during use.
Catheter manufacturing takes place in clean room environments and the machine which wraps the wire around the tube is usually a table-top design. One catheter manufacturing company was looking to redesign their machine to increase their throughput while maintaining quality. However with conventional motion control designs in the machine, increased throughput also meant increase machine footprint and valuable lab space couldn’t be sacrificed.
The machine was designed with three integrated SmartMotor servos. A SmartMotor was placed on each end of the core material, with one motor electronically gearing off of the other so that the core material wouldn’t twist while spinning. A third SmartMotor was used to traverse and wrap the outside wire along the length of the core material (with the option of hand feeding wire onto the core material). The machine was able to accomplish the tiny wire wraps in about 2 seconds, spinning at 14000RPM with a foot pedal on the ground to control the speed via analog input. This increase in production allowed for greater throughput while still maintaining the essential table-top design of the machine.