Bumotec: Instrumental in developing cutting-edge medical technologies
Interview with SMTP Technology Co., Ltd > Gao Feng, Production Manager, Sun Yuting, Workshop Chief
SMTP Technology employs more than 50 staff and specializes in ultrasonic technology for medical equipments used in orthopedics surgery. As a customer of BUMOTEC, in this interview, the company shares its experience. We met with Gao Feng, Production Manager, and Sun Yuting, Workshop Chief, in their Zhangjiagang offices, in the Province of Jiangsu. SMTP Technology began operating in the medical industry in China in 2011. This young, dynamic company develops and manufactures the most advanced equipment with the cutting-edge technologies which are in high demand in the surgical sectors.
What is SMTPTechnology’s core business?
SMTP: We develop and sell the “XD Series” ultrasonic therapeutic equipment used in orthopedics surgery, neurosurgery and joint surgery, and we produce a comprehensive range of precision cutting tips specially designed for the XD series products. As Mr. Gao explained, the ultrasonic equipment developed by SMTP is recognized by its users (mainly surgeons) as an ultra-powerful, safe, efficient and highly accurate equipment. This has enabled SMTP to compete with and beat those large international companies offering similar products. The XD series product is designed as a power tool through ultrasonic vibrations to cut bones during surgical operations. Such kind of ultrasonic-powered tool represents the 3rd generation of surgical tool for bone cutting. The 1st generation tools are hammers and rongeurs, while the 2nd generation tool is a high-speed drill, which damages soft tissues around. This 3rd generation-XD series products only cut hard tissues, with no risk of damage on soft tissues around, such as vessels and spinal cord. That’s why the XD series product is the first choice of many surgeons for very delicate procedures such as operations on the spinal column and skull base.
How do you achieve the ultra- precision for which you are so renowned in the field?
SMTP: Besides the sophisticated and precise algorithms of our products and amongst other aspects, we highly focus on developing the high quality and precision cutting tips, which have direct contact with patients during operations. We always believe in the high level precision of our cutting tips guarantees outstanding performance of our products. Therefore we very carefully select the machining tool for tips manufacture. We selected a Bumotec s191H machining centre to produce our cutting tips, the s191H in FTLR configuration with 65 mm bar capacity, combined with a HP 3 for high pressure plus a bar feeder. It has simplified the development process as the tips are produced after a single setup, and the cycle of production is accelerated largely. Therefore, thanks to the Bumotec s191H machining tool, we are able to develop or optimize one tip model within a week on average.
The Bumotec s191H machining centre enables 1 tool to be developed each week.
What is your current customer base?
SMTP: We have already covered more than 150 top hospitals around China, and the demands for our XD series products are growing rapidly as our advanced technology and outstanding quality of cutting tips become increasingly well-known. We are based in China and viewing the world, as we are preparing to export our product overseas to enter the international market this year.
Why did you choose a Bumotec machine for your development work?
SMTP: We always focus on the quality of our product, and Bumotec is very famous for its superior performance in parts machining. Ever since the start up of SMTP Technology, our chief engineer has known of the Bumotec brand and
its products for many years. We made contact with Bumotec at the China International Machine Tool (CIMT) show in 2015, when we were in need of a complete machining centre to produce complex and precise tips. We saw the machining demonstration at Starrag Group stand which was very impressive, and then we visited a rival supplier and made our decision: we decided like to purchase a Bumotec s191H FTLR machine, as we were convinced that the machine’s rigidity would deliver the greatest precision in the long term. Since we received the Switzerland made machine at the end of 2015, it has been used for many cutting tips development, and also for small production runs. Since the operator training is clear and straightforward, the team changeover operations are simple and seamless. The machining centre has been operating perfectly non-stop every day since, manned by two operators working in shifts each day to allow it to run from 6:00 to 23:00.
Which procedures do you use most often on the machining centre to produce your parts?
SMTP: We mainly use the turning/milling functions and the 5-axis simultaneous machining function; we also use other functions including tapping, drilling and deep-hole drilling in particular with the high-pressure unit; this enables us to drill up to 120 mm deep into the material, achieving exceptional consistency when drilling holes with very tiny diameters.
The exceptional precision of our tools increases the success rate for delicate surgical operations.
Can you give us a concrete example of a part manufactured on the s191H?
SMTP: Since the s191H enables us to develop a tip model within a week, and produce lots of cutting tips, as you can imagine, there are many many exam- ples. One typical example, one particular helical cutting tip is made of titanium, from an 8-mm bar, with the finished tip measuring 2 mm on its smallest end. The toothed part of the tip is produced using the 5-axis simultaneous machining function. The complexity of machining such tip lies in the precision required and in observing the permitted margin of tolerance of 10 μm when producing these teeth. They must all be of the same height and the same circumference in order to be effective. The tip end is composed of 8 helical teeth and the distance between these teeth must be strictly the same as designed. There must be no burrs inside the channel separating each tooth either. The performance for our XD series products also relies on the production quality of the tip teeth. If these teeth do not comply with the specifications, the ultrasonic energy will be disrupted and the balance can no longer be maintained. This may result in a loss of control, even tip breakage during operations. Using the Bumotec machining centre to produce a perfect helical tip head in approximately 40 minutes, enables us to meet the market demand efficiently and remain at the cutting-edge of surgical instrument technology.