Laser micromachining saves lives.
Stents (vessel supports) are finely structured tubes that are designed to be implanted in a compressed and minimally invasive way through suitable blood vessels. They then expand to the desired form at the target location and keep the narrowed blood vessel there open.
Such surgery is carried out for example after heart attacks, strokes or in other cases where there is a narrowing of blood vessels.
So-called bio-stents made of bioabsorbable polymers offer the special advantage of dissolving on their own after the vessel has healed. But since bioabsorbable polymers are very sensitive to temperature, the ultrashort pulse laser is the only tool with which these finely structured components can be produced without damaging them.
The demanding requirements on the manufacturing process become apparent when the dimensions are considered: Some of the thinnest of stents, such as those that are used in the brain, are only 0.5 mm in diameter and have wall thicknesses in the micrometer range.