Behind the lens: endoscopic application challenges laws of flow

2. December 2013

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41:1. How’s that for a polymer-physics-say-this-is-impossible flow-length-to-wall-thickness ratio? That injection molding feat, accomplished in polycarbonate no less, is precisely what photonics and optical technology manufacturer polyoptics GmbH (Kleve, Germany) achieved with its newest optical product, which can be used in endoscopic surgery applications.


Stephan Kopka, who handles marketing and communication for polyoptic, told Plastics Technology, that the minimally invasive finished part weight is a mere 0.045 grams, with a wall thickness of 0.2 mm and a length of 8.2 mm. The parts run on a 50-ton machine, and the process is fully automated to eliminate any chance of human contamination. Beyond those details, Kopka was understandably tight-lipped about the impressive application and the process that creates it, citing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the customer.


“Unfortunately we are not able to give you any information about the cycle time and the number of cavities,” Kopka answered in an email reply to questions. “That will be our secret.”


The equally impressive tool for the ultra-precise parts was designed and fabricated in house, as was the specialized end of arm tooling that allowed the whole manufacturing process to be fully automated and worker free.


“The process is automated to ensure as little ‘contamination’ by humans as possible can be ensured,” Kopka said. “In the case of an optical medical device, contamination is critical.”


FujiFilm roots
Based in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia, polyoptics has 30 employees and offers customers design, prototyping, tool making, injection molding, and coating. Injection and injection compression machines range in size from 25 to 2,000 kN.


The company took part in October’s K fair in Dusseldorf, about 1 hour south and west of it, where it highlighted its LED lens molding capabilities with sample components.


polyoptics was founded in 2007 by a core group of injection molding specialists at FujiFilm Recording Media GmbH, which had set up shop in Kleve in the 1990s to undertake R&D of optical components. In 2007, polyoptics was established through a management buyout supported by the Poschmann GmbH & Co. KG. In fact, polyoptics still resides on Fujistrasse 1 in Kleve. 

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