Comparison of machining and cutting of metal tubes for precision machining

Benefits of Cutting Metal Tubes for Medical Devices

Metal Cutting is always on the lookout for the latest innovations in Swiss CNC machining, precision grinding, mass finishing, and even the tools used for lapping services. However, these machining methods do not represent all that Metal Cutting has to offer.

The true metal cutting processes that we specialize in are actually quite unique, such as cutting off thin-walled steel pipes for medical devices and other precision applications. For these very precise, high-volume requirements, our metal tube cutting methods play a more central role than machining or other tube cutting methods.

Excellent results in cutting metal tubing

The problem with hypodermic tubing and other very small tubing that our customers usually look for is that, depending on how the process is performed, some cutting processes can cause problems.

However, Metal Cutting is one of the few companies that can successfully cut this type of pipe, no matter how small the pipe diameter or how thin the pipe wall.

Laser cutting can also be used to cut small sections of tubing, such as medical stents. However, lasers cannot be used to cut honeycomb sections or combinations of sections; the tubes have to be cut one by one, which is a slow and expensive process.

Metal cutting can cut large numbers of thin-walled steel tubes simultaneously and do so cost-effectively without the problems mentioned above.

For example, we can cut stainless steel tubes with an inner diameter as small as 25 µm (0.001″) and an outer diameter (OD) as small as 75 um (0.003″) – in other words, tubes about the size of a human hair. Most of these ultra-thin-walled steel tubes are used:

In medical devices such as eye surgery or similar treatment procedures. Scientific instruments that need to measure and/or dispense small, precise amounts of liquid.

Other advantages of tube cutting for small parts

Speed and cost are not the only advantages of the metal cutting metal tube cutting method. For example, not only can it cut small bundles of tubing, but it can also cut rotating tubing if needed. Only the wall of the tube can be cut, saving additional stroke time and wheel retraction.

Another important difference is the unavoidable heat effects of laser metal cutting. In my personal experience, avoiding the heat of the laser is also an important issue in human surgery.

A few years ago, when I had surgery to remove polyps on my vocal cords, I was advised to find a surgeon who could use a cold knife instead of a laser. This is because lasers are hot and can leave scars on the vocal cords.

Of course, I hired a cold knife specialist, the surgery was a complete success, and my voice is as good as new. Likewise, the thin-walled tube process of metal cutting does not deform or discolor the heat-affected area or parts as laser processing does.

Of course, it goes without saying that laser cutting is superior for achieving complex shapes that are far beyond the capabilities of metal cutting. For applications that require such complex machining, comparing our cutting process to laser machining is like comparing apples to oranges.

The speed will be a little slower and the cost higher in such cases, but that is part of the price you have to pay to get the right results.

Flexible procurement of tubes for small parts

Although we are experts in metal tube cutting, we do not manufacture metal tubes. However, metal cutting provides value to our customers through our relationships with vendors.

This allows us to source material in welded, drawn, and seamless forms from all the best vendors of thin-walled stainless steel tubing, including 316, 304, and the hard-to-find 400 series.

Metal Cutting also sources material from leading providers of thin wall tubing made from many other metals, including MP35N, Nitinol (also known as NiTi or TiNi in Japan) and similar shape memory alloys, numerous grades of titanium, Kovar, Inconel, and various other nickel alloys.

Cutting Metal Tubing That Is Extraordinarily Thin

We are able to procure ultra-thin tubes and cut them into extremely short lengths using our proprietary technology, so that the viewer often cannot tell that it is a tube.

The inner and outer diameters of steel tubes are so extremely thin that they cannot be seen with the naked eye, and even wire experts sometimes say that they are too small to be tubes and must be solid wire. Thank goodness for tube manufacturers.

It is only by observing the shortest cut parts with a loupe or microscope that we can find the characteristics of thin-walled tubes.

Likewise, at first glance, even stamping experts may mistakenly believe that our miniscule parts are stamped or fine-blanked and not the thin-walled tubes that we cut to the very shortest length. This is because we are able to cut the most delicate tube concentric circles without deforming them.

Of course, stamping is a very fast process that is useful and prevalent in many industrial and consumer applications. However, where deformation or longitudinal grain orientation is a concern, our metal tube cutting method can meet tight tolerance requirements.

Advantages When It Counts

Our proprietary cutting method can cut thousands or hundreds of thousands of thin-walled tubes into smaller components, but this requires additional skills. This means that we also need experience in measuring, handling, and counting large numbers of very small tubes.

This may not seem like a big deal. However, counting 100,000 very small tubes is like counting grains of sand. Unlike sand, however, our cutting tubes have the advantage of being able to maintain very tight tolerances and thus be identical in size.

At Metal Cutting, we have high-performance, semi-microscopic counting equipment and the skills to use it. As a result, we are able to supply accurate quantities, with some tubes so tiny that thousands of parts occupy an area of one square inch.