Tiny plastic pumps, which administer drugs evenly, ensure the correct dose of many medicines. MeadWestvaco Calmar GmbH, a leading manufacturer of such pumps, is about to make a key advance in quality inspection. The initial inspection of the parts will soon take only a few days instead of several weeks – thanks to the METROTOM 800 computer tomograph.
The small plastic pumps manufactured by MeadWestvaco in Hemer, Germany, are comprised of up to 12 different parts. The small size of the pumps makes their functionality extremely complex. A key criterion is the output: how much liquid is ejected with each puff? Manufacturers can only achieve the right dose when the parts are perfectly matched: the tolerances are generally a few hundredths of a millimeter. The requirements in the medical industry are particularly strict.
Until now, MeadWestvaco used traditional optical and contact measuring machines for quality inspection. However, this process was very time consuming and susceptible to errors, particularly because some of the features were hidden. Employees had to destroy the part to reach them. As a result, mistakes were easily made because the material was deformed during this process.
To improve and accelerate quality assurance, MeadWestvaco Calmar invested in a METROTOM 800 from Carl Zeiss. The computer tomograph x-rays the tiny plastic parts from all sides to create a 3D image that displays all internal and external dimensions and is generated in a short time. A color display of the 3D model on the monitor allows technicians to immediately identify which dimensions exceed tolerance.
Employees are still becoming familiar with the new inspection equipment, but they are already very satisfied with the initial test results. “In addition to being faster, the quality of the measuring results will improve considerably because the parts no longer have to be destroyed,” explains Lahmer. He is certain that his department will soon use metrotomography for all initial inspection activities: "Instead of waiting two weeks for the test report of a part, we will deliver in two days."
MeadWestvaco Calmar GmbH in Hemer, Germany, is one of the leading manufacturers of spray and dispensing systems for household chemical, cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications. MeadWestvaco Calmar’s list of clients reads like a who’s who of multinational companies. The largest growth market for the tiny plastic pumps is medical applications. MeadWestvaco Calmar GmbH is a subsidiary of American packaging manufacturer MeadWestvaco.