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RFID transponder integration in metal surgical instruments produced by additive manufacturing

: Paz, J.F.I.; Wilbig, J.; Aumund-Kopp, C.; Petzoldt, F.


Powder Metallurgy 57 (2014), Nr.5, S.365-372
ISSN: 0032-5899
ISSN: 1743-2901
Fraunhofer IFAM ()

Radio frequency identification (RFID) applications are becoming more and more important in logistics, especially for the purpose of tracking and managing items. Real time tracking of medical instruments during a surgical operation belongs to the state-of-the-art applications of this technology. The metallic environment in the operating room represents a big challenge, hampering the readability of the RFID tag. Currently, transponders are joined to metal instruments by bonding or clamping them inside a polymer shell, containing as little metal as possible. Assembling the tags is a time consuming process, which changes the usual shape of the instrument. It also represents a point of failure because of the possibility of losing the tag during the instrument's life cycle. Selective laser melting (SLM) offers a way to integrate the entire RFID tag in a metallic instrument while keeping the original shape. Instrument manufacturing by SLM allows small wall thicknesses and a reduced temperature impact on the RFID tag during the building process. The production of trial components from IN718 nickel alloy is reported.