Permedica adds three RenAM 500Q’s for mass production of medical components
March 15, 2023
Renishaw, Wotton-Under-Edge, Gloucestershire, UK, has collaborated with medical devices specialist Permedica, Lecco, Italy, to develop Additive Manufacturing processes for the mass production of medical components in the healthcare industry. The adoption of three RenAM 500Q Additive Manufacturing machines is said to follow on from a longstanding partnership between the companies.
Permedica, founded in 1986, started as a distributor in the medical sector, focusing on developing and selling orthopaedic implants for hip, knee and shoulder arthroplasty. Permedica is reported to occupy one of the largest and most modern production facilities in Europe, dedicated to promoting continuous growth and innovation in the orthopaedic sector.
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“We established a partnership with Renishaw early on in the company’s development,” stated Federico Perego, Sales Manager at Permedica. “One of the strengths of our company is our ability to seek out and recognise potential partners who can be effective companions, providers of solutions and bearers of innovation. We feel that it is essential for us to have rock-solid, healthy relationships with whoever we choose to engage with as partners. Only through mutual trust, respect and strong collaboration can significant goals be achieved.”
Renishaw has provided Permedica with touch probes for CMMs and machine tools, as well as laser systems for part measurement and tool setting operations for many years. With this, Renishaw plays a crucial role in the production chain, with every single part produced by Permedica undergoing dimensional checks.
In recent years, Permedica began using Additive Manufacturing alongside traditional production methods. This approach allowed the company to condense the production line while enabling the creation of bespoke products for individual patients.
“Product customisation is, for all intents and purposes, still a small niche of the market,” continued Perego. “However, it has two great advantages: the first is that it broadens our capability, and the second is that it is probable there will be a strong push towards it from an engineering perspective because it is where the market is heading. So, being at the cutting edge of it is crucial.”
Permedica had previously used two non-Renishaw Additive Manufacturing machines, but these proved to be of limited use. Based on the company’s desire to develop its AM potential, it decided to search for a new machine that better suited its needs.
“When searching for a new AM machine, we found ourselves looking closely at the Renishaw RenAM 500Q and it immediately struck us as a very interesting solution,” explained Perego. “This was down to several reasons – first and foremost, the production area, which has impressive four sintering lasers. This feature allows us to achieve a remarkably higher level of production and a reduced cycle time per unit produced as compared with the single laser machines we already had in our workshop.”
He continued, “The RenAM 500Q is a fully automatic machine, including powder sieving operations, meaning that there is no need for operators to oversee this step, saving a great deal of time. Due to our existing relationship with, and knowledge of, Renishaw, we knew that this was the product to go for.”
The RenAM 500Q is designed to scale up AM technology to suit larger production volumes, enabling Permedica to use the system to mass produce standard parts instead of custom applications. Its working volume (250 x 250 x 350 mm) and four lasers enable the company to meet demanding production volumes and speeds. The machine also features automated powder and waste handling systems that enable consistent process quality, reduce operator intervention time and ensure high standards of system safety.
By installing the RenAM 500Q, Permedica experienced increased throughput and found that the mechanical properties of parts manufactured on the machine were superior. This enabled the company to extend the production of other parts using AM. Permedica purchased two additional RenAM 500Q systems in 2022, allowing them to meet increased demand for mass-produced medical components in the healthcare market.
“The presence of the four lasers effectively puts us in a position to operate with significant production volumes,” stated Perego. “This expresses just how versatile the Renishaw machine is, making it the crown jewel in our production setup.”
Permedica noted that one of the biggest challenges when implementing a new technology is taking the time to install the equipment effectively, fine-tune the process and train staff.
“We have found Renishaw to be a solid, reliable partner capable of supporting us quickly and assisting us in the challenging task of increasing productivity, reducing lead times and minimising waste,” continued Perego. “In my eyes, these goals have certainly been achieved, not least thanks to the presence of a team dedicated entirely to additive manufacturing which has been with us every step of the way over these past four years of operation.”
He concluded, “It is also important to mention the quality and versatility of the Renishaw software that runs the RenAM 500Q. Operationally speaking, the part execution files are transferred from our CAD/CAM system to the machine for all the work of translating the files. I have to say that there have never been any sort of conflicts, inaccuracies or uncertainties, which is a sign that Renishaw has certainly put in a great deal of work in this regard too.”