Fri, 03 December, 2021
TWI’s Principal Project Leader, Paul Brooker has over 40 years of experience in working on projects for the medical industry, including providing joining solutions for medical devices.
Paul took some time to explain more about our work in this area, the challenges that the medical device industry faces, and reveals where the industry is heading.
Can you start by quickly introducing yourself, what do you do at TWI?
I was brought up in the manufacturing industry learning on the workshop floor starting as a trainee and working my way up to Managing Director of a small engineering company. I was involved in projects that were defined as difficult and ground-breaking, which were pushing the boundaries of technology. From these projects, I learnt many things both from the successes and also the failures. After 40 years in manufacturing, I joined TWI as a project leader within the Thermal Processing Technologies section, dealing with brazing and diffusion bonding. Due to my background, I very quickly became involved in many areas within TWI, working across different technologies to deliver projects for our Members. I now head up the Manufacturing Support team, working with clients on various aspects of manufacturing; from general advice, helping a member take a concept design through to pre-production, and also re-engineering legacy products.
What does TWI do to assist the medical industry?
Our prime objective is to support our Members’ requirements across all areas of materials joining and performance. Depending on specific requirements, this can include an assessment of suitable joining processes through to the manufacture and assessment of prototype parts. Typical projects are challenging and require process and risk identification, concept development, validation and support through to industrial implementation.
These activities are supported through our extensive in-house facilities that include advanced characterisation equipment, various different testing machines and bespoke laboratory facilities. The majority of our project work is bespoke, specified to meet the exact requirements of our clients.
TWI has worked to support the medical industry for many years now, can you give us some details of any particularly interesting or ground-breaking projects?
We are currently working with a client to develop a joining method applicable to thin metals less than 200µm thick. The requirement of the part includes forming a hermetically sealed unit, with flatness and minimal oxidation. Previously completed projects have included the combination of brazing and non-destructive inspection, the joining of plastic parts as well as the development of laser welding procedures. As part of a multi-disciplinary approach, the inclusion of non-destructive testing and destructive testing, such as fatigue testing, of parts has been used for process development and validation. This approach is key in enabling us to deal with the unique challenges associated with medical products such as bio-compatibility, small size, and challenging geometries as well as materials.
How about the future of the medical industry? Where do you think things are heading, and how can TWI assist with these advances?
Medical devices are getting smaller each day, especially those made from metals compatible with the human body, and many are now being implanted into the body for real time diagnostics and treatment. This includes functionalities such as monitoring blood pressure, temperature, heart functions, etc. As the parts get smaller, the technology for micro joining needs to keep up with this development. TWI has the expertise to support micro joining and also the methods of verifying the joints through non-destructive inspection techniques. TWI is investing in new equipment to support the growth in the development of medical devices.
TWI is holding a webinar dedicated to our work within the medical sector. Titled, ‘Medical Device Development and Manufacturing – Getting the Joining Technology Right,’ the online event is due to take place on 27 January 2022, and you can find out more and register, here.