Only 20 years ago the use of lasers within industry was revolutionary and limited. These days, the rise of medical device applications in electrophysiology, neurovascular, cardiac rhythm management, etc. require more innovative solutions to conventional laser stripping technology.
Advancements in laser technology include reel-to-reel part handling with real-time inspection, and closed loop end point detection to address stripping ultra-thin wires, smaller strip regions, multi-wire ribbons, braid catheters, and catheters.
What is Laser Wire Ablation?
Laser ablation, or laser wire stripping, is a non-mechanical means to remove the coating from a given wire compared to more traditional wire stripping methods.
The outcome is clean, unspoiled wire that has not been flawed by mechanical cutting blades.
The laser ablation process provides greater flexibility in locating the areas of coating removal, allowing the design of more complex components.
Why is Laser Wire Ablation Needed?
Across industry many methods of wire stripping are commonly used, abrasive, chemical, thermal or chemical. Although such methods have a degree of cleanliness and the quality of the metal exposed is deemed acceptable, within the medical industry more stringency is required.
Laser Wire Solutions support its partners in finding the optimal balance between the stripping quantity and the protection of the wire characteristics.
We understand within the medical device industry there is a need for very clean insulation removal, to have little impact on the integrity of fine wires, with diameters of 10 to 25 microns. With our solutions, we ensure the process is environmentally clean and safe.
This method allows ribbon cables, fine wires, catheters to be either stripped at the end or mid-span, whilst ensuring the integrity of the wire.
Why Should You Use Lasers for Wire Ablation?
When using lasers as a source there are commonly two methods used. One encompasses the rotation of the wire around its length to expose all surfaces to one beam.
The second method, uses multiple beams re-directed around the wire from several directions simultaneously.
If “window” ablation needs to be undertaken on a wire, where the insulation is removed, a single beam with no rotation is sufficient.
A machine vision system may be required to selectively laser wire strip or ablate certain sections on a ribbon cable. In some cases, several beams allow for a more uniform circumferential coverage of insulation to be laser-stripped.
Due to the laser beam pattern being programmable there is an assortment of configurations that can be produced. This means that wires can be end stripped using a crosscut or crosscut and slit, a window pattern, angled cuts or any of a number of programmable patterns on a wire or ribbon cable.
The greatest need for the use of laser ablation for wire stripping includes but is not limited to the following:
- Window stripping or stripping off, if the insulation that is not on one of the wire ends.
- Very fine gauge wire stripping especially when precision stripping is a requirement.
- Wire where the insulation is bonded to the wire.
Why Use Laser Ablation for Medical Device Manufacturing?
Many medical devices require the use of ultra-fine wires and cables. Laser wire stripping or laser wire ablation is beneficial for medical device manufacturers because they provide a great deal of accuracy, it is a highly repeatable process, with a high level of consistency.
The Future of Laser Wire Ablation
As wires, other materials and component designs advance and reduce in size, there is a constant requirement for improved manufacturing processes to guarantee higher outgoing product levels whilst minimizing production costs.
The “programmable” nature of the cutting source along with the lack of any fixed tooling costs makes laser wire stripping the preferred technique for future builds.
Whether it is damage to the wire, the need for constant monitoring of blades, as well as tooling costs for new designs, the mechanical methods for wire stripping or ablation are no longer favored.