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Analysis of advantages of high power uv laser in medical application field

Jun 24 , 2022

Analysis of advantages of high power uv laser in medical application field

 

Marking is critical for the medical device and pharmaceutical industries to enable product tracking and identification and combat counterfeiting. Usually, people use ink to print labels. In recent years, infrared lasers have been used for marking. But these methods have shortcomings. Ultraviolet diode-pumped solid-state lasers (DPSS) have truly overcome the drawbacks of other technologies, but were rarely used in the past due to their high cost. However, the substantial reduction in investment cost and acquisition cost makes UV laser marking attract more attention for medical applications. This article reviews the characteristics of UV laser marking and shows how UV laser marking can be used in certain medical and pharmaceutical industries.

 

medical marking

Compared with other industries, medical products have more unique requirements for marking. Pills are taken orally, and many other medical products (such as catheters, stents, etc.) are applied externally or implanted in patients. Therefore, it is generally required that the marking itself cannot be a source of contamination or contain chemical components that could cause allergic reactions. In addition, it is generally required that the marked surface be smooth after marking to avoid tissue damage and to avoid making the mark a breeding ground for bacteria.

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Medical markings are often also required to include batch numbers, serial numbers, or other identifying information that can identify when and where a particular product was manufactured. Therefore, if a product is found to be defective, users can easily confirm that the product they purchased is from the same batch.

 

Batch and source marking can also help address a growing problem in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, namely counterfeit and "marketplace" products. Sometimes counterfeit products simply rip off the label from the bottle and put a new one on. But Western countries are increasingly inundated with counterfeit medicines (often made in Asia) that look exactly the same but may contain the wrong dose or fail to meet the necessary quality control standards.

 

Therefore, the ideal medical mark should be difficult to erase, easy to identify, difficult to copy or replace, contains unique serialized information, and does not alter the functionality of the product.

 

traditional marking method

For the marking of medicines, medical devices and their packaging, the mainstream method has always been ink printing (inkjet or pad printing). Pills are usually stamped using gravure offset printing. For manufacturers, this printing method is chosen because of its relatively low investment cost. However, consumables (ink) costs are usually higher.

 

The main disadvantage of printing in medical applications is that the printed indicia are always easily removed or altered (especially if printed on paper labels). This means that after transportation, handling and storage, printed marks can become difficult to identify and easily counterfeited by those with ulterior motives. Print quality is also limited, creating problems if manufacturers want to squeeze more information, including QR codes, into a small area. For pill printing in particular, it is difficult to apply to the increasingly popular "soft gel capsules" because of the stress on the product during lithography.

 

Even though the inks used to print medicines and medical devices are non-toxic, the printing equipment itself is often "dirty", using airborne lubricants and solvents that can contaminate the printed product. In addition, printing equipment is often extremely complex and requires downtime for cleaning and maintenance.

 

Laser marking is a non-contact marking method that avoids contamination issues and requires no consumable costs. In addition, laser marking typically supports small print areas with high contrast and high resolution marks, and can be applied to curved or contoured surfaces.

 

Laser marking typically uses CO2 or solid state lasers in infrared radiation. The marking process itself is a thermal process, where the material is heated until it whitens, carbonizes or ablates to create color contrast. Almost all plastics directly absorb the heat output of far-infrared CO2, sometimes using absorbing additives, coupled with near-infrared solid-state lasers to facilitate this process. However, heating will change the chemical structure of the HAZ material and cause some surface bumps. This provides a home for bacteria and is difficult to clean.

 

UV laser marking

Compared with infrared lasers, ultraviolet lasers and materials are basically difficult to interact. In particular, the UV (355 nm) output of frequency tripled diode-pumped solid-state lasers absorbs much more than in long wavelengths. It then undergoes luminochemical (rather than photothermal) interaction with fillers or pigments in the plastic. Most plastics are white, and the pigment is titanium dioxide (TiO2), which absorbs UV light heavily and then changes its crystal structure. This causes the substance to darken in color, creating smooth, highly legible marks inside the material rather than on the surface.

 

Since the mark is actually inside the material, there is no breeding ground for bacteria, and it is almost impossible for the mark to be altered or damaged without damaging the material itself. Furthermore, since this is a cold working process, there is essentially no heat-affected zone and no changes to surrounding materials. Also, the high absorption rate of UV light means that the material can be processed using lower laser power. Finally, because UV light can be focused more tightly than infrared light, UV lasers support the marking of complex, high-resolution marks such as QR codes.

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