Anaheim, Calif. — Medical technology trends related to digital health, 3D printing, robotics and production will be on display at the Medical Design & Manufacturing West trade show, scheduled for Aug. 10-12 in Anaheim.
About 1,400 exhibitors will show off products, technology and processes to an expected crowd of 13,000 attendees essentially attending a series of engineering trade shows that also includes WestPack for medical devices and packaging, including for cannabis; ATX West for assembly equipment and robotic accessories; D&M West for 3D printing and manufacturing equipment; and PlastecWest for prototypes, 3D printing and injection molding.
Auxiliary equipment supplier Conair Group, extrusion and converting technology manufacturer Davis-Standard LLC and non-contact measurement experts Zumbach Electronics Corp. will be in the spotlight together as they produce polypropylene medical swab tubes for test kits in a clean room-ready production line at Booth 4024.
The tubes are tipped with a flocked nylon swab head and used to collect nasopharyngeal samples for COVID-19 testing and other medical applications.
Long and thin, the tubes measure 0.09 inches by 5.58 inches. They will be produced from a ¾-inch Davis-Standard medical extruder.
The tubing line will be controlled by the Davis-Standard eVue Control System, which has a touch screen that communicates with the Conair and Zumbach equipment to control the entire line from one location.
When the hot tube exits the extruder die, it will pass through a water-filled pre-skinning tool, which was developed by Conair to rapidly harden the fragile extrudate before it enters a 5-foot-long Conair MedLine Model 235 vacuum cooling tank.
Inside the tank, quality control measurements begin as the tube passes through an immersed ultrasonic gauge supplied by Zumbach Electronics, which takes continuous wall-thickness measurements.
After the tube exits the tank, a three-axis laser gauge, also a Zumbach instrument, continuously measures and displays the outside diameter, inside diameter and shape of the now-cooled tube on a display screen.
The data from the two instruments enables closed-loop control of critical tube dimensions throughout the production run by regulating the puller speed and cooling tank vacuum. The instruments also provide quality control and length data to downstream equipment to identify and eliminate any out-of-spec product before it reaches the final collection point.
After laser measurement, the extruded tube continues through a Conair's MedLine brand MD-L1-12-D puller/cutter unit. The tube passes through specially-lined stainless-steel bushings where a high-speed rotary knife automatically cuts it into finished swab lengths that fall onto a Conair MedLine 403 takeaway conveyor.
A final product sort is made on the conveyor, using a quality control mode available in the MedLine cutter control. This mode receives dimensional and length data from upstream instruments, then digitally "marks" any out-of-spec tube sections.
In the demonstration, the cutter control will remove good tubes from the takeaway conveyor with a puff of compressed air, blowing them into a bin for collection. The out-of-spec parts will be left to flow to the end of the conveyor for reprocessing.
Conair will have other auxiliary equipment in the demonstration, including the Conair AL-2 Access Loader to deliver PP resin for the swab tubes at a rate of 10 pounds per hour from a storage unit to the extruder feed hopper.
Also, the tempered water used in the pre-skinning tooling and vacuum cooling tank comes from a single Conair TW-P temperature control unit (TCU). When the TCU needs chilled water, it's provided by the Conair EP2A portable chiller, which features nonferrous internal components (evaporator, pump, reservoir and piping) for long-lasting corrosion resistance.