General Plastics plays a pivotal role in allowing individuals whose faces are severely burned to live a more normal life. Our LAST-A-FOAM® FR-4540 tooling board material is used by CimMed, Inc. of Algona, Washington to manufacture state-of-the-art compression therapy masks that optimize the healing of burn patients while saving hospitals precious time and resources.
Right after skin-graft surgery, the burn patient’s face is scanned without being touched using CimMed’s handheld laser wand. The scan data is used to create a 3-D image of the patient’s face, which is shared with the burn team. In a live online meeting, the occupational therapist directs additional changes so that the finished mask puts pressure on specific areas of the face. This keeps swelling down, and removes or prevents scarring. After making needed adjustments, CimMed releases the approved CAD file for manufacturing and the mold is machined on a CNC mill using our top-end 40-pound tooling board material.
The machined tool is placed into a vacuum-forming unit to create the burn mask, which is made from silicon gel, then trimmed out to fit the patient for therapy. It takes less than three hours from scanning of the patient’s face to overnight shipment of the finished compression mask to the hospital – a process that would otherwise take a burn center’s staff three days – or weeks, without access to the technology.
This allows the mask to be applied immediately after surgery versus weeks later, by which time the patient’s face has already changed. As swelling subsides, the patient may be fitted for one or two additional masks. CimMed can re-machine the original mask tool or create a new one from fresh tooling board at minimal expense.
CimMed’s choice of our tooling board material directly impacts the end result. “In our CNC machining, we must work very quickly – but without creating any gullies or valleys that can create a texture that is pushed into the patient’s face,” said Steve Kidd, CimMed president.
“We have to refine the tool to produce a flawless surface finish that is as smooth as a teapot once we’ve cut it, and that requires a superior material. General Plastics’ FR-4540 high-density tooling board is very stable, very consistent, and we get amazing surface finishes from it.”
Kidd also cites the fact that it’s non-abrasive, which protects their CNC machines. “The material breaks off into shavings, providing a dust-free tool ready for vacuum-forming, which also makes it very easy to clean the mill after machining.”
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