Laser Marking in the Medical Industry

The medical sector is a crucial industry made up of many moving parts. While it involves the hospitals, walk-in centres and medication that we are more familiar with, behind all of this are manufacturing processes just like in the aerospace or automotive industries.

With the creation of items such as tools, test tubes and medication needing to be of the highest level of quality and safety, it is important that the right processes are used throughout. Laser marking is just one of these methods that is heavily utilised; we’ve explored this in more detail below.

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Laser marking is critical within the medical sector

The medical industry

The medical industry is usually split into two parts; healthcare, which involves the treating of patients, and pharmaceuticals, which involves the development of drugs for medication. However, there are other fields which could be considered entities in their own right, such as health technology. These fields all overlap in many ways and are all inter-reliant upon each other.

The laser marking process is often used on medical equipment

The laser marking process is often used on medical equipment

While the primary motive of this industry is for the treating of patients, it still involves businesses looking for a profit. Infact, in 2014 the global revenues of the pharmaceutical industry were over one trillion US dollars.

The industry is constantly developing and some of the wide-ranging technologies which are manufactured in this industry include machines for earlier diagnoses and ways to conduct treatment in a less invasive way.

It is an industry that is rapidly evolving, with tools becoming smaller and more efficient, and procedures becoming better and safer. Items such as bionic limbs are becoming more and more prevalent. Tools and processes that were perhaps once too expensive for wide usage are becoming more readily available to the everyday man and woman.

How laser marking aids this sector

While tools become smaller and processes more efficient, high quality and safety also remain at the forefront of this industry. From the products that are manufactured and the processes used to the treatment of patients, those operating in this industry simply cannot afford to sacrifice quality for cheaper alternatives.

Of course, cost-effective processes must be used, but with a high demand for products, they must also be quick, reliable and adaptable. Lasers, and more recently fiber lasers, have quickly grown to become a popular choice for this industry with various laser methods used. Laser marking is just one of these methods.

One of the earliest uses for laser marking in this sector came from the marking of stainless steel surgical equipment, useful for the dentistry industry too. Not only must these marks be easily readable, but they must be able to resist sterilisation processes too, while not allowing any germs or bacteria to stick.

These tools have a natural level of corrosion resistance, so the process must also not affect this resistance. As well as equipment and devices, you will also find these marks on medical implants too.

Since then, the way that it is used has developed. It is the preferred method for marking a range of products and tools with identification labels. It is crucial that all items used within these industries can be easily traced back to their origins.

Quite simply, there are few alternatives to the use of lasers within this industry. Other methods, which include ink jetting or hot foiling use other chemical compounds, and so wouldn’t leave the instrument safe for use. The use of laser marking has helped to dramatically reduce product waste, as products that had been incorrectly marked before could no longer be used.

Another huge benefit to laser marking is the breadth of materials that it can work with. Not only will it mark various metal devices and implants, but it’s perfect for working with plastics too; another highly common material in this industry.

Given the wide-ranging benefits that it offers, it’s highly likely that we will continue to see laser marking playing a dominant role in the medical sector for many years to come.

Looking for more information?

If you still have questions about laser marking and how it’s used in the medical sector, or applications in other sectors such as the semiconductor and electronics industries, then we’d be more than happy to help. You can find our contact details here.

 

 

Image credits: DarkoStojanovic and jarmoluk

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