In today’s competitive environment, OEMs are looking for opportunities to reduce costs without sacrificing product quality. One way that companies are realizing cost reductions is through process automation. Automation, and the efficiency it brings, has become a vital component in manufacturing. The technologies used in automation have advanced significantly in recent years due to the digitalization of manufacturing, especially with the Internet of Things (IoT) – opening up more opportunities for companies to take advantage of automation solutions. There are many benefits to automation such as improved quality and higher efficiency and throughput – all of which lead to lower costs.
One form of automation is robotics work cells. Automation solutions vary in complexity and range from simple robots to systems that consist of feedback loops and sensory programs that automatically adjust operating conditions to meet the desired values based on real-time data. These robots deliver speed and accuracy, resulting in faster operations and higher product quality. With automation, personnel no longer have to execute the repetitive, time-consuming tasks – reducing the risk of human error and improving safety as well as allowing personnel to focus on more value-added responsibilities. There are many sectors employing robots including the medical sector.
Polyurethane in the Medical Industry
When it comes to material selection, the medical industry is one of the most demanding sectors. Materials employed within the healthcare industry must be durable enough to withstand harsh conditions, and resistant to degradation. Most materials are unable to tolerate medical environments; fortunately, the medical industry can rely on polyurethane for essential, life-saving devices and products.
Polyurethanes are incredibly flexible and can be custom formulated to suit nearly any application. Polyurethanes are a popular material for the medical sector due to their outstanding properties including: durability, resistance to chemicals and abrasion, flexibility, wide temperature range, chemical inertness, high tensile strength, vast range of available durometers, non-allergenic, and low toxicity.
Polyurethanes, namely thermoset polyurethanes, play a broad and important role in diverse medical applications. Thermosets are polymers that, after the initial forming, cannot be melted and reformed. For this reason, thermosets have excellent durability. Thermoset polyurethanes also have high resistance to abrasion and outstanding vibration dampening. These properties make polyurethane a great choice for applications such as medical robot wheels as well as gaskets and seals.
Polyurethane in Medical Robotics
One application that is gaining popularity in the healthcare industry is the use of polyurethane in medical robotics. Due to their excellent grip and traction, and ability to transport objects seamlessly without disruption, polyurethanes are invaluable in applications where robots must physically grab or pick up objects. In fact, urethanes are able to successfully handle delicate objects such as surgical tools as well as abrasive objects – all without sacrificing longevity or performance. For these reasons, in many hospitals, robots are already performing repetitive tasks such as restocking supplies or assisting with disinfecting activities. Robots are also assisting doctors with surgeries in the operating room.
Robotics innovations are constantly evolving and resulting in robots capable of more complex and intricate tasks. A huge area for research and development is nanomedicine. One advancement underway is the creation of tiny microbots that are capable of entering a patient’s capillaries to assess and repair human tissue. This is an exciting development and, in the future, may result in a treatment for cancer or other diseases that includes a patient swallowing a pill that encapsulates a programmable microbot. Given its excellent biocompatibility, polyurethanes are a natural choice for these types of new innovations in medical robotics.
3 Key Benefits of Robotics in the Medical Sector
Whether it be utilizing robotics in hospitals or employing robotic work cells in medical manufacturing, there are many advantages of utilizing robotics. Below are 3 of the key benefits within the medical sector.
- Increased Productivity and Precision: robots are designed to execute a specific job, typically a repetitive task, and are known for their efficiency in the hospital. Robots are able to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no breaks except for occasional maintenance. For these reasons, robots are capable of higher productivity and throughput. Higher volumes and faster operations translate to lower costs that provide a valuable competitive edge for the medical sector. In addition, robotic work cells are known for their precision, reducing the opportunity for human error.
- Faster Speed to Market: employing robots speeds up the manufacturing process, reduces costs, and enables more volume for the hospital. In addition, operations performed by robots are almost always performed “right” the first time without any rework required – leading to a higher quality part and a faster speed to market for medical products. A quicker speed to market is a huge advantage within the medical sector where technologies advance rapidly and new products are routinely being introduced. Additionally, customers are more satisfied when parts are delivered on time – improving a machine shop’s reputation and increasing the number of repeat customers.
- Improved Personnel Safety: similar to other sectors, there are personnel risks within medical manufacturing. Fortunately, robots often perform tasks that can be hazardous to humans. The use of robotics cells removes operators from higher risk processes, allowing personnel to oversee operations from a safer distance and improving personnel safety as well as reducing lost time from injuries.
About PSI Urethanes
Since 1966, through our own independent research and activity in the Polyurethane Manufacturers Association, PSI Urethanes has stayed on the leading edge of urethane technology – including developing advances in new materials, comprehensive designs, and processing technologies. Today we are among the most respected and trusted suppliers of custom urethane products.
We operate from our 45,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas, which houses an extensive stock of polyurethane products. Our fully equipped manufacturing facility includes a versatile range of processing machinery, which allows us to work on unique, one-of-a-kind projects, as well as high volume components. Our in-house engineering, tooling, and custom mold shop, produces custom and stock production orders with exceptionally fast turn-around times. From conception to prototyping, to final production runs, our technical representatives and design engineers will work closely with your staff to meet your critical tolerances and specifications. You are guaranteed to receive experienced, professional, and personalized service from the first contact through your on-time delivery, with complete confidentiality and dedication to protecting your good name.
PSI Urethanes specializes in custom urethane products. Contact us today to see how we can help with your next project, or give us a call at 1-800-888-5156.