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Metal cutting is the be-all and end-all of successful production at Königsee Implantate.

Medical Machining Boosting productivity and efficiency

Jan 20, 2017

Medical manufacturing is a growing industry in major segments such as orthopedic devices and instrumentation, implantable devices and medical instruments. Driven by both innovation and regulation, medical device manufacturing continues to outperform the economy. The article highlights the usage of DMG MORI’s machine tools by a medical implant manufacturer that provides efficient CNC technology for more productivity ensuring high degree of material efficiency.

The foundation of the Königsee Implantate GmbH by Erich Orschler in 1993 was in fact a consistent continuation of the competence in medical technology that had long existed at the Aschau location in Thuringia, Germany. As early as the end of the First World War the orthopedic technician Otto Bock had started producing prostheses and orthopedic aids for war-disabled veterans at this location, before having his company expropriated and moving to Lower Saxony to continue his work. The company looks back on 20 successful years with the in house development of its implants and instruments. For trauma surgery, the company has long gained the reputation of being one of the leading German suppliers of medical technology in the field osteosynthesis.

One decisive factor in the success of Königsee Implantate is its expertise in metal cutting, for which the company has been using machine tools from DMG MORI since 2013 – a DMU 40 eVo and three SPRINT 20|8 linear machines equipped with a SWISSTYPEkit.

Innovating product range

“Medical technology is still a growth market, one that we can substantially help shape with innovative products“, says Horst Lindner, Head—Purchasing and Production, Königsee Implantate. The company’s enormous range of such products encompasses bone pins, screws and plates and on to include implants for spine surgery. “We have a great variety of products that are in-turn offered in a multitude of different versions,” he says. Horst Lindner sums up the common denominator of all products. “We only machine materials that are difficult-to-cut, such as steel or titanium in which we achieve top qualities. Usually this involves single pieces or small series, which require a high level of flexibility. Our vertical integration is correspondingly high so that we can also respond at a short notice,” he added. This integration starts with the development phase and goes on to include complete production right through to after-sales service.

Metal cutting is the be-all and end-all of successful production at Königsee Implantate. “All that is left to do after cutting the workpiece into shape is to finish it with a galvanic surface process”, explains Lindner. The company underpins the high priority given to metal cutting with efficient state-ofthe- art machine tools. Since 2013, for example, it has used a universal machining centre from the eVo series and three SPRINT lathes from DMG MORI.

Efficient CNC technology for more productivity

The 5-axis DMU 40 eVo has been a great boost to productivity in the manufacturing of bone plates. “The use of a device for twelve plates allows us to run the machine autonomously for several hours – if necessary even right through an unmanned night shift”, says Lindner about the process. “This means we can guarantee fast availability of the products,” he adds. The production manager also sees great benefits in the compact size and excellent ergonomics of the versatile DMU 40 eVo. “The production area is always limited, so we are more than pleased with machines that have as small a footprint as possible. Despite its size the DMU 40 eVo still offers optimum access,” he opines.

Where turning is concerned Königsee Implantate decided on the SPRINT 20|8 linear equipped with a SWISSTYPEkit from DMG MORI. The focus in this case is on efficient production of bone screws. The dynamic and accurate linear drive in X1 is ideal for fulfilling the requirements of medical technology. “Not only can we produce very quickly, the standard of quality is also impressive”, claims Lindner. Eight axes and the fact that two tools can be used simultaneously also benefits productivity. The SWISSTYPEkit of the SPRINT 20|8 linear – i.e. the option of turning both long and short workpieces – rounds off the features of the automatic lathe. Thanks to the option of short part turning the material remnants can be used again for bone screws. This ensures a high degree of material efficiency.

Contract manufacturer for a revolutionary technology

Last year, Syntellix AG from Hanover presented a bone screw made of MAGNEZIX® – a magnesium alloy. The special feature of this screw is that the material dissolves in the body within one to two years, so there is no need for a second operation to remove the implants. Syntellix claims that this will save the need for thousands of operations in future. The implants have only been used for smaller bones to date, but the supplier intends to extend the fields of application and make the product suitable for mass use.

Machining workpieces made of MAGNEZIX® is twice as demanding as conventional materials: firstly the same extremely high demands on quality, complexity and productivity apply here as usual and secondly strict safety requirements apply in the machining of magnesium. In this regard, Lindner points out, “Magnesium chips are easily inflammable so the machine needs special equipment that will vacuum off chips and dusts and prevent electrostatic charging.” DMG MORI worked together with Königsee Implantate to make the necessary modifications to one of the three SPRINT 20|8 linear automatic lathes. “As an extra precaution, the machine stands in a separate container outside of the company’s actual building.”

Future-orientated approach

The CNC machines from DMG MORI already in operation in the company are a proof of the company’s future-orientated approach and of its keeping a keen eye on modern manufacturing processes. Although he is not allowed to go into detail, Lindner does let drop that “Ultrasonic processing on ULTRASONIC machines could well help advance our development in future.” . Courtesy: DMG MORI

Image Gallery

  • The extensive product range of Königsee Implantate also includes bone screws and plates made of titanium.

  • From the blank to a high-tech implant: the bone screw made of MAGNEZIX® – a magnesium alloy – is produced for Syntellix AG by Königsee Implantate.

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