The High-Tech Medical Manufacturing Challenge We’ll Never Forget

We are continually reminded of the importance of precision and accuracy in high-tech medical manufacturing, especially when producing components for life-saving instruments. However, one particular medtech manufacturing project has left an indelible mark in our memories – and hearts. This post will walk you through the trials and triumphs of an unforgettable medical mass spectrometry manufacturing feat that’s nothing short of a miracle.

How it began

A few years ago, a global high-tech company based in Waltham, MA acquired a small, highly specialized manufacturer of mass spectrometers to gain access to advanced technology capable of measuring in parts per trillion, the most sensitive mass spectrometry in the world. 

The company wanted to integrate the technology into a UHPLC mass spectrometer for a proprietary newborn screening system designed to accurately detect over 50 congenital disorders early enough to administer necessary treatments efficiently for better outcomes.

So, when the global company chose us to produce ultra-precise quadrupoles for this life-saving instrument, they leaned on our decade-long relationship with the acquired company. But this time, the newborn-centered instrument skyrocketed the stakes. 

The challenges that fueled our determination

We faced multiple manufacturing challenges during this memorable project, including: 

  • Incredibly exacting cylindricity tolerances
    Each of the eight 3/8” diameter quadrupoles must be as close to a perfect cylinder as possible to maintain the mass spectrometer’s ultra-sensitive properties. If any quadrupoles fail to meet the incredibly exacting cylindricity specifications, the newborn screening system cannot detect congenital disorders as accurately as intended, putting lives and livelihoods at risk.
  • Relatively long components
    In addition to achieving the tight tolerances of near-perfect cylindrical parts, we were challenged to maintain this diameter consistency on 8” long components. Any deviation exceeding .000020” throughout the entire length would render the part unacceptable.
  • Grinding stress and destabilization
    In addition to cylindricity tolerancing and diameter consistency challenges, the grinding process stressed and destabilized the parts, requiring us to retain precise control over the process from start to finish.
  • Production quantity increases
    And, to top it off, quadrupole production quantities increased from 50-200 pieces to 1,500-2,000 annually since the acquisition, applying even greater pressure to achieve results.

We had a mountain of exceptionally challenging requirements as we developed an ultra-precision centerless grinding solution for this critical newborn screening device. So, we got to work.

The solutions for overcoming the odds

To overcome the challenges of this high-stakes project, we started by determining a strategy to stabilize the quadrupoles to combat stress and reduce movement during the grinding process. We used a high-end Monzesi Monza centerless grinding machine capable of producing parts with near-perfect cylindricity, allowing us to achieve the consistency required. This state-of-the-art equipment also added strength and support when grinding exceedingly small diameters to help stabilize the parts. 

Beyond using the latest grinding technologies, we also relied on our profound understanding of the grinding process. Our experienced craftspeople maintained a steady pulse on the parts every step of the way, continually making minuscule machine adjustments to achieve the tight cylindricity tolerances and diameter consistency requirements for success.

The results that leave an imprint 

Our ability to produce near-perfect cylindricity and achieve consistent diameters on the mass spectrometer’s quadrupoles allow the global high-tech company to serve its customers in more than 100 countries. Their next-generation neonatal mass spectrometry instrumentation saves approximately 70 babies every day, and, to date, the company’s newborn tools have screened more than 735 million babies globally.

We are proud to have established ourselves as a leading provider of precision parts in the industry and to be among the only people in the world that can produce such ultra-specialized components. Our team of highly skilled engineers, grinding operators, and cutting-edge technologies enables us to make the impossible possible and, in this case, play a critical role in saving lives.

Are you interested in reading more details about this high-stakes, high-tech project? Instantly download the complete case study on our website.

If you’re craving more medtech manufacturing victories, read about a cerebral ultrasound instrument we produced that’s hard at work in the field, capturing critical blood flow data in real time. You might also be interested in downloading our white paper with insights on what you need to know about grinding hypotubes to an extremely thin wall.

As an industry-leading medical component manufacturing company, we have the resources and passion for bringing your life-saving devices to market. Our vast array of ultra-precision machining and grinding services under one roof, ability to meet demanding tolerances and deadlines, and unsurpassed determination give us an edge. Contact us to make your impossible possible.