Fiber Laser Cutting of Stents

Laser cutting of very thin-walled tubes has developed rapidly in line with demands from the medical device industry. It is possible to Laser cut extremely complex shapes in 2 mm OD tubes with walls as thin as 0.2 mm. This application has placed severe demands on the conventional Lasers used. This Application Insight looks at stent cutting with lasers exploring both stainless steel and nitinol stents and examines the benefits of lasers and the advantages over other alternative technologies within the medical industry.

Introduction

The average power required for these small scale tube cutting applications is in most cases relatively low, with most stainless steel stents typically being cut with 200-500W rated Fiber Lasers, with higher power levels needed only for nitinol. Certain specialist manufacturers now offer fully integrated Laser cutting systems/machines commercially fitted or retro-fitted with our Lasers. These systems/machines provide the sophisticated clamping and high accuracy multi-axis movement required for precision cutting of a range of different medical device materials.

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Fiber Laser Cutting of Stents

Laser Cutting of Steel

Precision cutting of this nature has until recently been performed by flashlamp pumped solid state Lasers using co-axial assist gas, usually nitrogen at relatively high pressure and flow rates.

In these trials, our redPOWER 200 watt Laser with a single-focus lens configuration was used to generate these samples. To confirm cut quality, samples were prepared for Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) examination.

Figure 1: 2mm OD, 200 µm wall thickness stainless steel tube

Figure 1: 2mm OD, 200 µm wall thickness stainless steel tube

Processing results

Fiber Lasers can produce very low taper high aspect ratio cuts with very little process optimisation. When compared with most solid state YAG lasers, kerf width, cut taper and recast layer thickness can all be significantly reduced.

There is a significant improvement in the controllability of the cut due to the ability to freely modulate the pulse frequency and pulse duration. Visual observations of cut quality has been confirmed and enhanced by metallographic examination of transverse cross sections of Laser cuts.

Figure 2: 40x nitinol stent cutting using SPI fiber laser

Figure 2: 40x nitinol stent cutting using an SPI laser

Benefits of the SPI’s Lasers range:

Here are just some of the benefits you will gain when you buy a fiber laser from SPI:

  • There is a significant improvement in the control ability of the cutting process due to the ability to freely modulate the pulse frequency and pulse duration
  • The high modulation speeds up to 100kHz enables faster processing and increased productivity
  • The high beam quality of the Laser gives small spot sizes down to 10µm, resulting in fine kerf widths
  • Laser output power stability leads to a stable cutting process
  • The absence of thermal lensing due to average power changes enables improvements in process repeatability and control
  • Our lasers are easily integrated or retrofitted into Laser workstations and cutting machines or systems
  • No flash-lamps = No maintenance costs
  • The Laser is self-contained and fits into a standard 19” rack and hence occupies far less floor space than a standard solid-state Laser system

Would you like to discuss laser cutting?

For a friendly chat about laser stent cutting and everything else our lasers can provide why not give us a call us on +44(0)1489 779696 or contact us via webform here. Receive regular updates from SPI Lasers by clicking this link.

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