26 March 2021

Lasers in medical devices - state-of-the-art implant manufacturing

Manufacturing high-quality ceramic implants requires precision tools for micromachining. Dentalpoint AG uses a manufacturing system from Aerotech incorporating an integrated galvo scanner to laser-cut the micro grinding pins. The handling robot and measuring system are also linked via the control software.

Dentalpoint, still a relatively young company, has been producing high-quality ceramic dental implants since 2006 and is one of the pioneers in this field. In 2009 the first two-part implant system made of high-performance white ceramic came onto the market. Under the brand name Zeramex, it is shipped from the production facility in Spreitenbach, Switzerland, to customers in Europe, the US and Asia. Dentists, dental laboratories, dental technicians and medical distributors are the main customers for these 100% metal-free ceramic implants with screw connections.

"Compared with titanium implants, our two-part ceramic product has the advantage that it looks very aesthetic and natural due to its white colour. Biologically, it is more compatible and has excellent osseointegration," explains CTO Philip Bolleter, head of production, research and development at Dentalpoint since the founding of the company. Whether single tooth, bridge, bar or telescope restorations, Zeramex covers the entire range of options with ceramic implants. The most recent addition is the Zeramex XT ceramic implant with reversible screw connection offering maximum prosthetic flexibility, especially in the anterior region. 

Manufacturing system with galvo scanner for micromachining

"We attach particular importance to our tools, because the more precisely we manufacture them, the more precisely the implants can be manufactured," explains the CTO. "This is why we opted for a system from Aerotech as they are known for their high-precision positioning systems with integrated laser technology."

Philip Bolleter remembers the initial talks with Aerotech: "We had no experience with laser technology and integrating it with a manufacturing system was a major challenge. We were aware there was no such thing as an off-the-shelf system with an integrated laser, but we still wanted a supplier who could cover as wide a range as possible."

With Aerotech, they found the right system integrator who could realise the idea of the desired production system. "CNC control, linear drives, axes, galvo scanners for the laser; everything was made from a single source and with one competent contact," says Philip Bolleter. 

The complete mechanical part with linear drive, axes and the A3200 control software came from Aerotech, with the housing and the rest of the peripherals assembled by Philip Bolleter's team. In addition, a handling robot was integrated along with other additional components such as an optical measuring system for in-process measurement. The advantage here was that the same Aerotech control system could be used. "This allows us to expand the periphery at any time without having to purchase new control software, for example if we want to integrate a Profibus or an additional piezo axis - we are absolutely open and not restricted at all."

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