As a pioneer in the medical technology field, Tornos strives for continued improvements in terms of precision or quality – essential factors if you want to go further and further in the field of micro-precision.

While the global population continues to grow and age, the gradual urbanisation of our civilisation is creating a plethora of new health risks. The United Nations expects that an ageing global population will precipitate significant social changes – changes for which Tornos has been prepared for many years, especially in the medical and dental sectors. The Swiss machine tool manufacturer has such expertise in the field that it knows it can anticipate the needs of this booming market and meet those demands by providing innovative customised high-performance solutions.

Growth and ageing of the population

The global population is forecast to grow 16% by 2030. In the same period, the global population will also be ageing. The number of people aged 60 years and older is increasing faster than that of younger age groups and it is expected to double by 2050, and even triple or more by 2100. This demographic trend of ageing opens up new prospects with regards medical and dental technology, since the people aged 65 and older present greater demands for appropriate care. Two-thirds of those patients who need an artificial hip are currently more than 65 years old. Medical devices are used to prevent, diagnose or treat diseases and complaints, or to detect, evaluate, restore, correct or modify the structure or functions of human bodies in order to restore health.

Precision medicine – targeted and customised

Today, the convergence of technologies, innovation and the consumption of healthcare paves the way for precision medicine – or as it is also described, personalised medicine. The relevant information is used to define individual disease patterns, based on which specific treatment is best for each individual.

Few other industries are so strictly regulated, or place such exacting demands with regard to quality, safety and transparency. For more than 30 years, Tornos has been closely collaborating with manufacturers of medical devices from all over the world to assist them in providing impeccable products that improve the quality of life for patients.

In this way, Tornos enables its partners to produce anything connected with spinal instrumentation. This ranges from poly-axial and mono-axial screws – including screw heads – to lock nuts, not forgetting intervertebral cages that are used to treat certain dorsal and cervical diseases and also for degenerative disk diseases.

With regard to maxillofacial surgery, Tornos follows the ongoing trend towards miniaturisation that requires ultra-precise screws with extremely sharp threads and heads that are able to withstand high forces, as well as a flawless connection to the osteosynthesis plate.

Orthopedics and sports medicine

In the treatment of bones, joints and soft tissue, both orthopedic and trauma surgery often use bone screws and other fixation devices such as plates. Tornos has expertise in the production of cannulated screws, canellous and cortical bone screws, as well as locking screws made of stainless steel or titanium.

Moreover, Tornos is an expert in cannulation, a process used for machining a central hollow shank. Hip screws provide a vivid demonstration of Tornos’ knowledge in the field of orthopedics, and illustrate the high machining performance that the company offers – especially in terms of threading.

Perfect results for the most complex parts

Among the health-related business sectors, the dental field is experiencing an extraordinary boom. This is due to the fact that dental medicine means much more than getting back a beautiful smile. In fact, it can ensure various essential functions required to guarantee a high quality of life such as biting and chewing food. Dental implants such as bone screws, abutments and locking screws must be bio-compatible and resistant to various compression, traction and shearing forces.

Screws used to anchor dental implants pose the same kind of challenges as screws that are used for other medical purposes. The current kinematic system of the automatic lathes from Tornos offer a B-axis system in order to machine milled contours to the required complexity and precision.

Both in the medical and in the dental fields, a whole array of specifically designed tools are required to assist the physician when it comes to cutting, clamping and blocking, retracting and exposing as well as holding the relevant parts of the body during surgery. Such tools need to be easy to sanitise, economical, and in certain cases compatible with robotic handling. They should therefore be manufactured from suitable materials. For the production of medical and dental devices, an essential factor is bio-compatibility – in other words, the ability of a material to perform with an appropriate host response in a specific situation.

Traditional material or innovative material?

Tornos attaches great importance to the physical properties of the material. Likewise it is the ability to satisfy the requirements of its use and to the appropriate treatment processes such as chemical and biological properties as well as the compliance with valid regulations. The material cost is another factor that must be taken into consideration.

Classical bio-materials such as platinum, magnesium and stainless steel, as well as more recent bio-materials, in particular cobalt-chrome and polyether ether ketone (PEEK), are the materials the Tornos solutions are aimed at. The machining of PEEK is subject to various constraints. Under no circumstances should PEEK workpieces that are intended for implantation purposes be exposed to cutting oil during the machining process. This means that dry machining is required. Moreover, all lubricants used must be compatible with PEEK. In this particular case, cooling is ensured by a targeted jet of cold air.

Inclined milling and B-axis

Just like certain components such as vertebral implants, orthopedic bone nails, screws and dental implants require specific solutions, especially when conducting milling operations. Thanks to fully numerical axis control, manufacturers can handle extremely complex medical and dental components with ease and in one set-up.

Furthermore, the high-end Tornos machines are equipped with a tool holder with fixed nozzles that enable the cutting oil to be precisely supplied directly to the cutting edge of the cutting tool. In this way, excellent chip breaking, process security and high productivity are ensured. This is essential for the burr-free production of batches that are becoming smaller and smaller due to the increasing trend towards customised medical and dental devices. With its expertise in the field of medical technology, Tornos is able to assist its customers in tackling any challenge they face.