Working together flawlessly: “A winning team stays together!”

Intech Medical is a French Group that has gained worldwide recognition in the production of surgical instruments and orthopaedic prostheses. With production facilities in France, the USA and Malaysia, it employs 880 people with a turnover of €111.6 million (2020). Intech has been using the hyperMILL® CAM system from OPEN MIND Technologies since 2008.

To think it all started in one man’s garage...

Intech was founded in 1999 in Rang du Fliers, near Berck in France when orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Cotrel created medical devices in his garage, including spinal implants designed to stabilize the spinal column. His small company, Sofamor, was subsequently purchased by the Medtronic group.

Three Sofamor employees then decided to continue, creating Intech (Innovation technique pour le Médical). Following growth in 2004, two sites (USA and France) were purchased to increase production capacity. And when two of the company founders retired in 2012, investment companies stepped in to accelerate Intech’s global growth. The third founding member, Laurent Pruvost has been President of Intech ever since.

"Thanks to hyperMILL®, we have been able to meet the ever-shorter lead times required by our customers. Where processes used to require lengthy reworking, we now can rely on hyperMILL® VIRTUAL Machining technology. With this technology we have security right from the start."

William Pigeon, head of CAM programming and technical support

Intech is now the world's largest supplier of spine surgery instruments and a leading player in the manufacture of orthopaedic implants and instruments, and sterilization baskets. The ISO: 13485 certified company supplies clients such as Stryker, Zimmer, Depuy, Surgalign, Smith & Nephew and others.

Intech has worked to ensure its manufacturing facilities remain uniform across its various production sites. As Marketing Director, François Samson, explains: "Intech has facilities in several countries with different cultures, but the equipment used is essentially identical across all of them. This is certainly the case for robotics, machine tools, cutting tools and the CAM solution hyperMILL®. When it comes to working with machinery, all our staff speak the same language – wherever in the world they are. Intech capitalizes on the expertise and best practices. You don’t change a winning team!”

Automation for enhanced productivity

Intech has successfully been using hyperMILL® since 2008 and is investing in new software licenses as the group grows. In France, fifteen hyperMILL® programming workstations power 25 machining centers and 5 lathes. Worldwide, the group has 62 machining centers, 64 turning centres and 30 multi-axis turning machines.

William Pigeon, Head of Programming and Technical Support in Toulon, explains: "Thanks to hyperMILL®, we have been able to meet the ever-shorter lead times required by our customers. For example, we can complete the development, programming and tooling assembly package for a batch of 50 parts of average complexity with a 1 hour machine time for a monobloc surgical instrument within the space of 15 days.”

Several years ago, Intech opted to automate the loading of rough casts into its machines before machining. The investment in robotic work cells enables production to continue at weekends unmanned. Before this decision could be made, Intech had to be sure to have a reliable and future-oriented automation partner at its side. A secure CAM programming and production process had to be implemented. With OPEN MIND and its innovative hyperMILL® automation technologies, Intech had made the right choice.

High precision, reliability and responsiveness with hyperMILL®.

Production is mainly made up of small series parts up to 30-off, and runs up to medium-sized series with a maximum of 500 to 1000 parts. All this involves high-precision machining, often to micron scale, using a variety of materials, often difficult to machine.

The Intech team particularly appreciates the hyperMILL® MAXX Machining roughing module. The reasons for this are the fast, safe and reliable machining. It's high-feed cutting (HFC) and high-performance cutting (HPC) technologies ensure optimum material removal and short production times. William Pigeon explains: “The hyperMILL® MAXX Machining Roughing module represents a huge step forward for us. Cutting tools are used much more efficiently and have a longer service life.”

Another advantage is the simulation technology. The hyperMILL® VIRTUAL Machining Center virtually maps actual machining situations, that is, the machine including the controller and PLC. The numerous possible simulation and analysis processes are carried out on the basis of the NC code on a digital twin of the machine. Therefore, the real machining is exactly the same as the simulation.
Where processes used to require lengthy reworking, the Intech team can now rely on hyperMILL® VIRTUAL Machining technology. The Optimizer module provides powerful optimization algorithms that ensure efficient multi-axis machining. It also automatically identifies the best solution for top machining results. In particular, Intech sees the advantage with large series - a lot of machining time could be saved here. With hyperMILL® VIRTUAL Machining, Intech has security right from the start: from CAM programming, to machine set-up, to the finished part. Sébastien Secq, programmer and milling expert, explains: "hyperMILL® is very intuitive and therefore very easy to use. The simulation technology is excellent and gives us absolute confidence that we didn't have before."
William Pigeon adds: "OPEN MIND gives us a ‘zero waste’ guarantee. Accidents and quality issues are taken out of the equation. We are very proud of the fact that we were able to optimize and further automate our machining process together with OPEN MIND“.

Intech also uses hyperCAD®-S the CAD solution from OPEN MIND. This is specially designed to meet the requirements of CAM programmers. The hyperCAD®-S module has been introduced to present an innovative and efficient way to design and prepare models for programming. And let’s not forget the documentation and automatic reporting of job lists. As Sébastien Secq explains: "NC operators receive a comprehensive digital package containing toolpaths, documentation and automatic job list reports. In addition to improving reliability and machine set-up times, this lines up perfectly with the group's ‘paperless’ approach.”
In addition to this, the automated tool management system (TMS) in use at Intech means that operators no longer have to “assemble" tools on the machine. Sébastien Secq adds: "The tool library in hyperMILL® is very well developed, especially in terms of its compatibility with our tool management system (TMS). The operators import the geometry and cutting parameters directly. It’s awesome!”

At the service of Intech: 5-axis simultaneous machining and mill-turn machining

Meanwhile, Intech also uses hyperMILL® 5-axis simultaneous technology. The aim was to find a technological solution on the machine to eliminate the manual step of polishing parts. Now the parts come directly from the machine with the required surface quality. “With hyperMILL®, it is possible to generate 5-axis programs very easy and fast ," says William Pigeon, "so we are able to produce complex parts with best surface quality and increase our productivity at the same time."

The CAM programmers are also convinced by hyperMILL® MILL-TURN, the module for mill-turning. “We put a lot of effort into training our engineers with hyperMILL® software for turning because it was one of our specific needs," William Pigeon adds. “hyperMILL® MILL-TURN is an innovative solution. We are delighted with what we have been able to achieve with it.."

OPEN MIND's service and training are of high quality, according to Intech. The same goes for the after-sales service, including a responsive helpline, despite there being little need to use it.

www.intech-medical.com


Galerie