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Aligning broken bones safely with igus plain bearings in smart drill

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article image The iglidur L500 plain bearings meet the hygienic requirements of medical technology
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Students at the University of Bremen in Germany have developed a ‘Smart Drill’ featuring lubrication-free iglidur L500 igus plain bearings. Led by the young team from Bremen Institute of Measurement Technology, Automation and Quality Science (BIMAQ), the project sought to fix bone fractures safely by developing an attachment for a medical drill.

During the drilling process, this attachment measures the depth of the hole to determine the correct screw. Due to the special demands on the bearing points of the measuring system such as resistance to chemicals and moisture as well as trouble-free mounting at high speeds, the lubrication-free iglidur L500 plain bearings provide an optimal solution.

Fixing a fracture in osteosynthesis requires screw connections to be made inside the bone. The length of the screw needs to be precise to avoid injury to the surrounding tissue and to ensure sufficient strength. The bone diameter and depth of the hole must be determined during the operation using a gauge. However, the accuracy of this assessment is currently dependent on the operator's experience and can lead to errors in the selection of screws.

The ‘Smart Drill’ project aims to make this process safer using an attachment for the existing drilling machine that supports the length selection of the screw with measuring values. Lubrication-free igus bearings made of high performance polymers are used at the bearing points of the drive shaft.

The medical drilling machine required an optimal bearing to be developed in different speed and vibration frequency ranges without a negative influence on the system.

According to Michael Sorg of the Bremen Institute of Measurement Technology, Automation and Quality Science (BIMAQ), the combination of rotary drive and axial vibration required the use of high-quality plain bearings not only to implement freedom of movement in the axial direction, but also to achieve the most accurate signals possible at high vibration frequencies. To cover all requirements, various igus plain bearings were compared, and iglidur L500 was selected as the best option.

Key features of iglidur L500 plain bearings include low friction values and high wear resistance, with both rotary and axial movements; speeds of up to 900 RPM much below load limit; ability to withstand medical sterilisation at extreme temperatures; moisture resistance minimising water absorption to negligible levels; lubrication-free bearing eliminating any risk of contamination of the wound or premature bearing failure due to washout of the lubricant; and low installation sizes and very low weight compared to bearings made of metallic materials.

The iglidur L500 plain bearings meet the hygienic requirements of medical technology.

For more information, please visit the Treotham Automation website www.treotham.com.au or call 1300 65 75 64. 

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