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medical cnc machining

Medical CNC Machining: Everything You Need to Know

The medical manufacturing industry has witnessed high demand for quality components with tight tolerances. Most of these products are expected to meet the industry's required quality and safety standards and are typically manufactured quickly. Thus, product designers and manufacturers adopt medical CNC machining to meet these standards.

CNC machining's versatility and high compatibility with various materials make it the ideal manufacturing option for the medical industry. You can effectively produce medical components with utmost precision and accuracy, ensuring the safety of patients and reducing the risk of errors.

This article explores the medical industry's use of CNC machining, the application of medical CNC machined parts, and tips for getting the best medical CNC machined parts.

Why Does the Medical Industry Use CNC Machining?

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Medical Industry Use CNC Machining

CNC-machined products generally meet tighter tolerance bands and performance standards of the healthcare sector. Below are some of the reasons why the medical industry utilizes CNC machining in making medical prototypes and components:

Extensive Tooling Selection

CNC medical machining is a cost-effective and versatile process for producing precision medical components. It eliminates the need to create expensive tools. Therefore, you can easily save tooling costs and production time.

CNC swiss machining, for example, delivers a faster turnaround time for producing small batches or custom parts than mold tooling. Thus, it is an ideal solution for machining parts in the medical industry, with high demands for fast and precise parts in a small volume. It also offers high dimensional accuracy and quality results without specialized machine tools.

Tight Tolerance Requirements

Many sophisticated medical devices often need very tight tolerances, which CNC machining tolerances achieve quickly. Hence, producing medical components with CNC machining helps to reduce the risks of errors and the need for post-processing operations.

Ultimately, CNC machining saves time and money and ensures that your machined medical components fit and function as required.

No Restrictions on Order Volume

Unlike most manufacturing methods, CNC machining does not require a minimum order volume for projects. Therefore, it is more compatible with executing smaller projects. The process also facilitates the fast drafting of a program from a digital CAD file format. As a result, custom machining of medical components is possible without volume restrictions.

CNC machining is your go-to option when you need a highly specialized medical device, prosthetics, surgical products, and many other medical products that often require one-off custom parts.

Material Flexibility

The CNC technology makes it easy to use portable CNC machines to fabricate simple medical components efficiently. These machines are compatible with various medical and surgical equipment and parts materials.

Examples of compatible materials include production-grade plastics such as Acrylic, Delrin, and PEEK and metals like titanium, aluminum, and stainless steel.

Higher Production Speed

Medical CNC machining ensures the fast and efficient production of medical equipment and parts. Depending on their complexity level, you can easily fabricate finished parts in the preferred amount within a limited time.

Also, CNC production machining helps achieve high-quality parts in various volumes for the medical industry. This is especially true in medical emergencies where required component types are almost impossible to predict.

Flexibility in Machining Designs

CNC machining allows the swift and effortless transfer of digital programs between manufacturing professionals, product designers, and medical specialists. As a result, machinists can produce precise, high-quality, and specialized CNC medical equipment irrespective of their application or working environment. This advantage is valuable in cases where time is a crucial factor. CNC machining allows the rapid production and delivery of essential medical components with complex designs.

Medical Applications of CNC Machined Parts

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There are several applications of CNC machining for the medical industry, from small to large components. Some of these applications include the following:

Electronic Medical Equipment

CNC machines have a high capability of creating advanced medical devices with high requirements. These machined medical components must fulfill all meticulous safety and reliability standards to avoid equipment malfunction. Consequentially, manufacturers use extensive materials in machining surgical tools compared to medical implants.

Generally, surgical instruments have simple designs consisting of one or more parts made of metal. Meanwhile, sophisticated medical devices comprise several hundred to thousands of separate parts. These devices include ultrasound equipment, heart rate monitor, X-ray machines, MRI scanners, CT scanners, and specific diagnostic equipment.

Surgical Instruments

CNC machining is a popular process for manufacturing accurate and high-grade surgical instruments for the medical industry. Common examples of surgical tools used by experts include forceps, blade handles, cutters, surgical scissors, implant holders, biopsy tubes, etc.

These surgical instruments often require meticulousness and accuracy and are put through additional safety requirements, including ease of sterilization. Manufacturers often need to produce surgical tools and instruments within a limited time, and some have custom specifications, making CNC machining the ideal way out.

Medical Implants

Medical machining has contributed immensely to producing various bodily implants and medical implant testing, improving patients’ quality of life. Common examples of these implants include hip replacement and knee implants.

Medical professionals often order implants in small quantities. As a result, the injection molding process becomes too expensive, while CNC machining is the ideal option. Manufacturers make medical implants from metals like titanium and plastic resins like PEEK.

Common Materials Used in Medical Instrument Machining

Any medical component must be designed and created with either disposal or sterilization in mind, coupled with the malleability, tension, and tolerance requirements. Hence, using the ideal CNC machining materials that ensure your product meets the functional and quality criteria is essential. Here are some of these materials:

Metals Used in Medical CNC Machining

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Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is one of the most popular metals for medical manufacturing. It is a highly durable and robust material with outstanding corrosion resistance. Its biocompatibility makes it suitable for various applications. It is easy to polish for a refined and easy-to-clean surface. Applications for stainless steel include tweezers, forceps, and hemostats, and ideal for hip joint replacements.


Aluminum is a lightweight material with good strength and corrosion resistance properties. It responds well to anodizing to enhance its resistance to corrosion and aesthetics. However, it is not an ideal material for making devices that come in direct contact with the human body. However, it is your go-to choice for support equipment such as IV stands, orthopedic supports, wheelchairs, etc.


Magnesium is a biocompatible metal with an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. It is a perfect material commonly utilized in bone graft replacement and heart stents due to its tendency to biodegrade safely.


Titanium is a perfect substitute in situations where stainless steel is not compatible. It exhibits high strength, biocompatibility, and durability. It is ideal for creating skeletal supports, bone replacements, and prosthetics.


Its excellent antiviral and antibacterial properties make it viable for machining medical components. It is perfect for making constantly touched components such as monitor switches and buttons. Also, some manufacturers make dental implants with copper.

Plastics Used in Medical CNC Machining

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PEEK is a thermoplastic famous for its incredible strength and excellent high-performance qualities. Its high chemical resistance makes it a perfect material for medical parts frequently exposed to harsh chemicals. Its applications include temporary contact products like prosthetics, ventilator tubes, x-ray machines, and surgical clamps.


It exhibits optical clarity and high resistance to impact. Its typical applications include protective shields, dental prosthetics, contact lenses, microscopes & lasers, and orthopedic implants.


This thermoplastic material has good chemical resistance properties and a low coefficient of friction. Also, Delrin has high strength and is very rigid and dimensionally stable, making it an excellent material for machining medical parts that require precision and durability. Its everyday use includes forceps, inhalers, orthopedic implants, scalpels, and other simple medical components.

PTFE (Teflon)

Teflon is a medical-grade plastic with excellent heat resistance and dimensional stability. It is a good choice for making components that need to be frequently steam sterilized and devices that require high precision and reliability. Typical applications of PTFE include prosthetics, catheters, wound dressings, implantable devices, etc.


Nylon is a versatile engineering-grade thermoplastic with extensive applications in the medical industry due to its remarkable strength and toughness. It is an excellent choice for clamps, dental devices, implants, sutures, and forceps.

Polycarbonate (PC)

It is a famous CNC machining plastic for its high impact resistance, optical clarity, and strength. Its typical application in the medical sector includes making equipment housings, tubing, and connectors for medical devices, respiratory masks, protective goggles and shields, and surgical instrument handles.

Factors that Influence the Choice of Material for Medical CNC Machining

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Medical CNC Machining

Here are some factors determining the ideal material for machining medical parts:

Chemical Resistance

Most medical equipment, such as ventilator masks & tubes, diagnostic and testing equipment, surgical equipment, etc., often need repeated use, cleaning, and sterilizing. Hence, you must use chemically resistant materials for these components because they are usually cleaned with chemicals.

Stainless steel is commonly used due to its high chemical resistance allowing resistance to the likes of organic compounds, acids, and bases. Titanium and aluminum also have high resistance to corrosion by some chemicals. These metals, alongside PEEK and Polycarbonate (PC), are excellent materials for making medical components.

Long-Term Contact

Many semi-permanent or permanent implants within or on the body are CNC-machined medical components that maintain long-term contact with the body. These devices or components include artificial heart valves, artificial joints, pacemakers, hearing aids, prosthetics, etc. Biocompatibility is a critical consideration in this case. Likewise, the materials compatible with these applications need to possess good strength and durability.

Stainless steel and titanium are excellent metals due to their non-toxicity and biocompatibility. So, they are suitable for making components that maintain long-term contact with tissues without complications. Examples of compatible plastic polymers include acrylic, PE, PET, and PU.


Radiation sterilization, steam, and chemical vapor are the common forms of sterilization in the medical sector. These means of sterilization often expose medical components’ surfaces to degrading agents such as radiant energy, chemicals, and high temperatures. As a result, it is advisable to choose the perfect material that can withstand these agents.

Stainless steel exhibits high resistance to corrosion and high temperatures and can withstand reoccurring sterilization cycles. Titanium is another popular option with high corrosion and wear resistance. Compatible plastic materials include ABS, PC, PEEK, and PU.

Radiation Resistance

X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, and chemotherapy are primary radioactive contamination sources in the medical sector. Medical components accumulate the reactions of radiation over their lifetime. Hence, it is crucial to use medical machining materials that can withstand high radiation exposure without degrading.

Titanium, of all the earlier discussed metal materials, has the highest resistance to radiation due to its high density, which prevents it from absorbing radiation. Plastic resins that manufacturers use include PEEK, PU, and ABS.

Design Consideration for CNC Machined Medical Parts

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Design Consideration for CNC Machined Medical Parts

Here are some factors to consider in designing CNC-machined medical parts:

Use Simple Design

Simplifying your design enhances efficiency, lowers costs, and guarantees precision machining. You can achieve this using standard features such as chamfers, fillets, and radii. Likewise, consider minimizing the rate of material usage and removing unnecessary features.

Maintenance Ease

It would help if you designed your medical devices and components to be easily maintained. It ensures that the machined medical parts function appropriately and safely—also, a simple design with easy accessibility aids effective and efficient maintenance of medical components.

Employ Visual Appeal

CNC-machined parts with excellent visual appeal stand out in a populated market. A product with a visually appealing design creates a positive impression on customers. However, you should ensure the design meet the required specifications and purpose. Use colors and textures that improve the physical appeal of your components.

Utilize Strong Colors

You can use strong colors for your products to improve their identification and traceability. Strong colors help your products to stand out amongst various versions of a machined part, especially those with similar form and size.

However, you should consider the specific requirements of CNC machined parts when determining the ideal color. For instance, some components may require consistent sterilization, which is bad for particular colors due to the high exposure to harsh chemicals and high temperatures. Hence, ensure that your color doesn’t adversely affect the biocompatibility and functionality of machined medical parts.

Tips on Partnering with the Right Manufacturer for Machined Medical Parts

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Medical Applications of CNC Machined Parts

Today’s market is populated with several versions of parts; thus, your machined parts must meet strict safety and performance requirements. Partnering with a reliable manufacturer is essential to ensure your medical CNC-machined parts have superior quality and are adequate for the intended purposes.

Here are some tips you should consider when choosing the best CNC machining services:

Strict Quality Inspection System

It is essential to inquire about the means a manufacturer intends to use to gain approval for your products in the market. You must understand the quality management systems and methods a manufacturer adopts in fulfilling quality requirements. Ensure your partner has a proven track record of abiding by strict standards such as ISO 13485 certification and other mandatory approvals.

Experienced Professionals

One of the vital things to remember is the manufacturer’s experience and knowledge of recent technological innovations in CNC machining for medical components. An experienced manufacturing partner has a clear understanding of the industry’s standards.

So, working with a team of professionals with good years of experience manufacturing medical parts have immense benefits. Such a team can provide valuable design assistance and feedback that ultimately saves you costs and gives you the quality you need.

ISO 13485 and 9001 Certified

Another critical attribute to look out for in a medical machine shop is ISO certification. It shows that such a company has fulfilled the quality assurance and standardization requirements. Any manufacturer with the ISO 13485 certification demonstrates that such a manufacturer complies with the standard for the medical sector.

On the other hand, the ISO 9001 certification is a renowned standard that describes management principles. However, going with a manufacturer with both certifications guarantees quality machined parts that meet medical device manufacturing and management principles standards.

AT Machining: Your Best Partner for Medical CNC Machining

Medical devices and components have high tolerance and performance requirements. Its machining involves comprehensive designing, meticulous selection of materials, and high accuracy. Hence, the need to partner with the best manufacturer for the best results.

AT Machining is your best bet for efficient and effective medical CNC machining services for easy approval of your medical product for sale in a market filled with different products. We have the authorization to manufacture medical prototypes and components in compliance with ISO 9001:2015 requirements.

Our efficient quality management systems enable us to produce medical devices and components that meet specific requirements. We take pride in our team of experienced experts and quality inspectors with vast knowledge of the medical CNC machining requirements. Contact us today, and let’s discuss your next project!

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From AT-Machining, I’m a CNC Machining Expert in this field for more than 20 years.  We offer cost-effective machining services from China. Ask for a quote for your ongoing or upcoming projects now!

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