Polishing an artificial knee. Source: AV&R
Industrial automation and healthcare robotics might not appear to have much in common at first glance, but technologies and techniques from one can benefit the other. Since its founding in 1994, AV&R Inc. has specialized in robotic surface finishing. The Saint-Bruno, Quebec-based company announced yesterday that it has applied its expertise to orthopedic surgical implants.
AV&R, which stands for “Automation, Vision & Robotics,” has more than 70 employees and has served the aerospace and energy industries. The company designs robots to perform surface-finishing processes such as profiling, polishing, deburring, and blending, as well as automated visual inspection for turbine gas manufacturers. It said it has installed 360 innovative systems and built its reputation in 17 countries.
AV&R takes a shine to orthopedics
AV&R said it has developed robotic systems to perform various surface-finishing processes on implants such as knees and hips. In order to meet the demands of manufacturers of orthopedic implants, the company is now offering a range of modular robotic systems capable of performing several processes such as polishing or ultra-polishing.
In addition, AV&R said it has designed systems to visually inspect orthopedic implants. After years of research and development, the company has developed technology that detects 2D defects on the glossy surface of prostheses. By detecting and qualifying surface defects to a level unmatched by the human eye, the automated systems can guarantee optimal quality for implant manufacturers, claimed AV&R.
To optimize its systems, AV&R has developed operations software. Its BrainWave interface specializes in surface finishing and allows users to control the processes performed on complex surfaces. By facilitating the adjustment of system parameters and the development of new process recipes, BrainWave is the link between the robot and the operator, the company said.
The user-friendly interface of the ASIS visual inspection software allows operators to monitor the detection of surface defects, said AV&R. The BrainWave and ASIS interfaces have been designed to enable manufacturing employees to easily control the tools, following the vendor’s mission of humanizing robotics.
Polishing a hip stem. Source: AV&R
Potential benefits from robotics
AV&R said its long experience in automation allow it to develop robotics systems that offer orthopedic implant makers the following benefits:
- The surface-finishing systems have an ergonomic design to reduce the risk of injury to operators and contribute to health and safety objectives.
- With a small footprint, medical manufacturers can easily integrate the systems into their plants.
- Robotic systems can attain levels of quality, precision, and consistency unmatched by human operators.
- Technological innovations automate the polishing of hard-to-reach areas such as the knee box and enable the detection of surface defects not visible to the human eye.
- Optimal control of surface finishing processes to reduce the consumption of the abrasives used and therefore significantly reduce production costs.
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