Unique Ceramic Surfaces via Laser Texturing
At SINTX, the development and manufacturing of Silicon Nitride spinal implants has taken a large step forward in the acquisition of the Trumpf laser system. This system uses a high-powered laser to remove micro amounts of material from the spinal implants or any other silicon nitride component. The specific use of the laser on the spinal implants is to create a textured surface on the superior and inferior faces of the spinal implant. These textured surfaces can be completely customized to give a wide variety of different depths, patterns, and feels to the spinal implants.
The process of this is started in a custom CAD program specific to the Trumpf laser. In this program the different texture patterns can be designed and applied to a wide variety of shapes and components. The image below is one such pattern with the identifier of TWC100. In this file the different laser parameters can also be configured such as the power and frequency. These parameters directly effect how deep and wide each laser cut goes into the component. This can be incredibly useful for creating “paper pass” runs on the laser. Paper pass runs are developed and used primarily for creating first article inspections of marking or labeling of the parts in order to properly track and identify them. A paper pass uses very low power and frequency to only remove a very thin layer of material away from the spinal implant which after firing will no longer be visible and is an incredibly useful tool to ensure the correct identifiers are marked on the part before beginning the production run.
The Trumpf laser has proven to be an incredibly useful and versatile tool in the Silicon Nitride manufacturing world. SINTX is working on many different useful and innovative techniques to further this technology and leverage it to create unique, custom, and creative parts. This technology has the potential to significantly change the way Silicon Nitride parts are manufactured.
While the early focus of this technology is inside the body, being able to control surface texture to such a degree has applications wherever surface texture is important. Applications may include aerodynamic or hydrodynamic surfaces, in the control of friction and transfer layer formation during sliding, in chemical reactions, e.g. catalysis, and potentially many other engineering applications.