With the exception of surgical robots and some diagnostic systems, many medical machines have modest positioning accuracy requirements, at least compared to applications such as semiconductor and electronics assembly. Yet the motion axes in medical machines do have to run smoothly and quietly, sometimes at high speeds.
The next generation of medical machines will need linear guides that are compact relative to the loads they carry. They’ll also need to run smoothly with adequate precision. And finally, they’ll also need design features that ensure that the machine has a long, trouble-free life.
Let’s take a look at how our linear products make medical machines compact, smooth, maintenance-free and long-lasting.
Compact. We offer an extensive line of miniature linear motion products to meet the requirements of size-constrained medical applications. Among them are the world’s smallest recirculating ball linear guide, which has a track rail width of just 1-mm and a cross sectional height of 2.5-mm. We also offer a tiny ball-spline guide which has a shaft diameter of 2-mm and a cylinder diameter of 6-mm.
Smooth. In medical applications, one of the functional requirements is smoothness. Many guides can move from point to point quickly, but not all can do so smoothly. Medical robots and lab automation systems in particular can be especially sensitive to jerky motion. For medical applications, smoothness counts for more than maximum speed. Smoothness also translates to less noise, and quiet motion components are strongly preferred in any medical machine or diagnostic system used in proximity to patients.
Maintenance-free. The cost of maintenance, particularly lubrication needs, drives up the cost of ownership for many types of moving machines. Medical and lab automation machines are no exception. Our solution to this maintenance problem is a proprietary technology called “C-Lube,” which consists of a porous polymer reservoir that we impregnate with lubricant during our manufacturing process.
Long life. There are many reasons that a linear guide can fail to live up to its projected life cycle. Unabated contamination, for example, can shorten the life of a linear guide. So can excess temperatures. So can mechanical design or installation errors that cause misalignment between the sliders and rails. All these failure modes are possible in medical applications, but the most common and easily avoidable premature failures result from under- or over-lubrication of linear motion components, which can be prevented, once again, with our C-Lube technology.