Advances in Medical Machining

Oct. 17, 2008
Frightful accuracies in 3D scanning and machining

One of the developments debuted at IMTS 2008 was the creation of a miniature-scale, human skeleton that was being machined from a 6 in. by 12-in. aluminum billet.

“Bones” was being made on an AgieCharmilles Mikron UCP 600 Vario machining center that used a variety of high speed tools for aluminum from Seco Tools, including the company’s new Jabro solid-carbide endmill.

The intricate machining demonstration was being used to illustrate the tools Seco ( offers for machining of orthopedic components and other microapplications.

To produce the aluminum skeleton, Seco joined with Capture 3D (

That company’s white light scanning software was used to produce an STL model of the skeleton from a life-sized model. The STL model then was converted into a solid model and tool paths were added by the Tebis CAM system.

It took about seven hours to rough, semi-finish and finish the Bones skeleton, and Seco was raffling off the 12-in.-high models at the show to attendees.

The implication of the combined technologies — the 3D scanning, translation of the STL model to a solid model then to tool paths that were fed directly into the machining center — is that any part needed to repair a human body now can be machined to match the body for which it is intended to tolerances of 0.0010 in.