Like mass finishing, shot blasting is an exceptionally versatile surface treatment technology. Its applications range from general cleaning after casting and forging to shot peening and, even, cosmetic blasting for placing a fine, matte finish on the work pieces.
For shot blasting of orthopedic implants Rosler Metal Finishing recommends mainly air and occasionally wet blasting systems. The blast media is accelerated by compressed air and thrown at the work pieces through a blast nozzle, creating an extremely precise blast pattern compared to turbine blasting. Another advantage of air blasting is that it can be used with metallic, mineral as well as organic blast media.
These attributes and many more make this surface finishing method particularly useful in the medical industry.
Examples of Shot Blasting
The most common shot blasting tasks for joint reconstruction implants include:
- Surface cleaning after casting and forging.
- Surface texturing as preparation for coating.
- Cosmetic blasting.
- Preliminary surface smoothing of additive manufacturing implants.
- Shot peening.
Increased Life with Shot Peening
Shot peening is a process specially developed to improve the properties of components which are exposed to changing strains. In this process, the surface of the work piece is bombarded with a stream of blast media. Each pellet forms a little dimple on the surface to create a compressive stress. As a result, extension of the fatigue life, increased load bearing, and higher wear resistance are created.
Joints are a prime example of components which must retain their strength over a long period of time. Typically, joint implants such as hip stems, femorals, and tibia plates are shot peened.
Gentle Shot Blasting with Wet Blasting
The wet blasting method can be used for surface improvement, cleaning, preparation, decoating, preparation for initial coating, deflashing, and shot peening. This water-based method uses abrasives known as a slurry and is particularly suited for the finishing of delicate, precision-produced parts such as endoprosthetics.
The concentration of the slurry can easily be adjusted for different surface effects. Acceleration of the slurry is achieved using a special pump and compressed air.
Advantages of wet blasting include:
- No dust.
- Very gentle to aggressive blasting capabilities.
- No metal or media impregnation in the work pieces.
- No heat warping of thin parts.
- Cleaning effect even without chemicals.
- Very fine, textured finishes.
Commonly Used Machines
Implants must always be individually attached to or placed on work piece fixtures to prevent any contact between the work pieces, which may cause nicking or denting, during the entire shot blasting process.
Satellite Table Machines
These blast machines are equipped with a rotary table containing 4-12 independently rotating satellite stations. The work pieces—for example, hip stems and tibia plates—are attached individually or in groups to the satellites. Each satellite then passes through one or multiple blast stations equipped with several blast nozzles.
Swing Table Machines
Equipped with a round table, these blast machines feature two rotating satellite workstations, one in the blast zone and one in the load/unload zone. This allows loading/unloading one set of work pieces while another set is shot blasted. A 180° table rotation of the satellite station in the blast zone moves work pieces to the load/unload station and vice versa.
Automatic Loading & Unloading
For small production volumes manual work piece handling may be sufficient, but, for high-volume production, full automation of the work piece loading/unloading function may be more efficient and economical. Shot blast machines can be upgraded to any degree of automation requested.
The Rosler Way
Whatever your shot blasting needs are for joint reconstruction implants, Rosler Metal Finishing can help you find a better way and achieve the exact finish needed every time. Contact us today to discuss your unique challenges.
Be sure to catch up on our previous posts in the Joint Reconstruction Series including: