Custom Wire Technologies, based in the US, is a leading medical device OEM with experience in diagnostic and interventional guidewires. It works with an array of custom components designed with medical wire and other fine wire materials. President Bob Boldig speaks to Medical Device Developments about the uses and versatility of his company's products.
In a world where wireless dominates discussions about technological advancement, the lowly wire is easily forgotten. However, in the medical device industry, it is an essential component in the development and manufacture of life-saving equipment.
"Any application that uses fine wire for a medical device is potentially an application for Custom Wire Technologies (CWT)," says company president Bob Boldig. As the company's name suggests, it is equipped to customise its wire products for a variety of applications such as guidewires, guidewire coils and assemblies, Kirschner wires and profile ground-custom tubing.
"Many of our clients are OEMs providing innovative solutions to their own customers," says Boldig, "and they are continually searching for new tools to improve minimally invasive procedures." With this demand in mind, CWT also provides services such as coiling (custom coils, continuous coils and reinforcement coils), wire forming for medical device parts or subassemblies, grinding, fine-wire assemblies, laser and plasma welding, and custom compression springs.
While wire technologies uses are vast, it is not a rapidly evolving industry. Rather, it is the design and application of the wire and tubing in medical products that continue to change. In spite of this, Boldig says his team of designers continue to push the boundaries of conventional wire processing. "This is the area we spend our efforts," he says, "to remain a leader by providing a cost-effective viable solution for designers."
There is also plenty of freedom for CWT's designers. "We have no product design authority," Boldig adds. "Instead, we work closely with our customers to educate them about the myriad processing and manufacturing capabilities available."
CWT provides flexibility with its microlaser welding machines capable of rotary and stationary welding. The latter option is typical for custom prototypes and small orders, but automated rotary welding is used in larger production runs to ensure quality, consistency and turnaround times. "Our technicians program the rotary welding equipment to feed, position and rotate the fine and micro-fine wire products precisely within the treatment zone," Boldig explains.
Most of its clients' products need welding of fine or ultra-fine wire "similar in thickness to a human hair". This requires a combination of resources and skills to achieve the desired outcome. For the smallest wires, the settings on the selected laser welder can be adjusted to an energy level of 0.1KW and a frequency of 0.1ms.
"Fine-tuning the ideal laser weld parameters is where our experience makes the difference compared with other welding providers. Our expertise in this niche service brings elevated quality assurance through the assessment and implementation of singular and integrated factors that may potentially be affected, such as wire material, diameter, pitch, coil specs and application," explains Boldig.
To solve a common challenge concerning multilayered wire construction, CWT mechanically twists individual wires together. While their combined break-strength is greater than the sum of the individual wires, that is not the only advantage. Twisted wire construction also offers greater flexibility and torque transmission, plus it removes the bending stress from specific points during repetitive bending cycles.
Design expertise is essential when it comes to custom wires requiring insulating materials for characteristics other than dielectric strength. This is where CWT's liquid dip-coating technology becomes so valuable. "By understanding the properties of different coating materials, designers can produce or enhance differing functionalities in the overall design."
Another of the company's capabilities is its printing prowess. With 360° rotational printing, it can provide marking indicators and product logos on a variety of medical devices and components. "We carefully analyse the substrate to achieve the best and most cost-effective solution," Boldig says.
CWT also boasts an ISO Class-7 cleanroom for assemblies and packaging to ensure certain products meet the cleanliness requirements demanded by customers.
Boldig concludes that the company is focused on staying on top of wire processing trends, but wants to drive its small-wire-processing options further to provide added value for its customers.