Frequently Asked Questions

Innovation & Technology Hubs (SITHs)


Our Innovation & Technology Hubs (SITHs) are designed to solve our customers’ toughest technical challenges and act as a center of excellence for our core technologies. We demonstrate our commitment to expand what’s possible in the area of medical device thermoplastics and drive the evolution of healthcare technology.

The first hub is the extrusion hub, which focuses on developing complex extrusion profiles or new, innovative extrusion processes to create next-generation tubing and devices, furthering the medical industry. The second hub is our additive manufacturing (AM) hub, which involves innovation around 3D printing medical-grade thermoplastics. Both hubs lead Spectrum in innovation and next-generation devices.

The additive manufacturing and extrusion hubs operate independently but constantly collaborate on innovation, developing new ideas to better suit our customers' end needs.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) Hub

Additive Manufacturing (AM)

Many in the industry are challenged with non-functional or prototype-only parts as a result of additive manufacturing. Spectrum has developed technologies that allow end-use parts out of the same production materials commonly used in tubing and catheter manufacturing. Unlike many other suppliers, Spectrum uses our additive manufacturing technologies to process all medical-grade thermoplastic materials. These include nylon, Pebax®, polypropylene, polycarbonate, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polylactic acid (PLA), PEEK, polyetherketone (PEK), high impact polystyrene (HIPS), urethanes, and custom materials.

We receive a wide variety of requests, ranging from "napkin-sketch" to highly detailed and specific designs and everything in between. We even had a customer design their part around 3D printing exclusively through us.

Any time is ideal for reaching out to the AM hub. Usually, customers benefit more early on as they can decide the materials, design, dimensions, etc., with quick iterations instead of going with a specific design right into larger-scale testing. However, the customer can contact the AM hub and find us beneficial at any point.

If you have a design to test out, whether it involves a tube or a 3D-printed component, feel free to contact us! We welcome challenges and constantly evolve and grow our hubs to create the next breakthrough product that better serves our customers.

Extrusion Hub


We are often asked to push the envelope with the aim of ever smaller, thinner, and tighter tolerances. For instance, we have successfully made a 1/8" diameter tube with a 0.0006" of a wall (yes, only six ten thousandths of an inch). We accomplished this in a free-air extrusion process, holding a CPK of 3.8 on the diameter and even a tighter tolerance on the wall thickness. Spectrum is well-equipped to take on such challenges, as the company is passionate about pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

Interestingly, almost all customers who work with our extrusion hub are in the early concept stages of their catheter design, still working out durometers, wall thickness, etc. That's where our extrusion hub really comes through for them. We can go through a matrix of durometers and wall thicknesses within a single day, getting them the answer promptly and enabling them to move on to the next phase of their project.

Laser Processing

Laser Processing

Common laser machining process are ablation, cutting, drilling, wire stripping, and hole drilling, all with an emphasis on high-precision micromachining and micron-size features.

  • Ablation “vaporizes” material from the tubing’s surface at the micron level, with little or no negative thermal or structural damage to surrounding material.
  • Cutting creates miniaturized, complex features as small as 0.0002 inches (5 microns) with no heat effects, in a variety of materials.
  • Wire stripping removes sections of insulation or shielding without making physical contact with the conductor, enabling the processing of delicate wires and cables.
  • Laser drilling is commonly for micron-size holes, spiral arrays, blind wells, and specialized portals that can be drilled in a variety of patterns.

Popular lasers are pulsed gas and ultrafast, and femtosecond.

  • Pulsed gas lasers can selectively ablate certain outer materials of multilayered components. The depth of laser penetration is controlled by pre-programmed pulse singulation, which stops the ablation process at a specific level.
  • Ultrafast lasers are in high demand because of their speed, precision, and lack of thermal or structural damage to the material being processed. With an average pulse width of 150 femtoseconds (150 quadrillionths of 1 second), there is virtually no heat transfer beyond the dimensions of the cut, making it a “cool” process.
  • With femtosecond (1 fs = 10−15 s) pulses of light, femtosecond lasers cut incredibly fine features with submicron accuracy, eliminating heat-affected zones and reducing the need for secondary finishing. Features can be as small as a few microns, with submicron tolerances. Femtosecond lasers are often used for hypodermic tube cutting for catheters.

Learn more about pulse width here

Consistent and repeatable quality is achieved, thanks to high constant speed and automated platforms.

Other advantages are:

  • Lasers can create complex features that traditional micromachining cannot.
  • Unlike traditional micromachining, mechanical burrs and deformations do not occur with laser processes, improving quality, saving time, and accelerating time to market.

Our laser processing facility - in Missouri has more than 15,000 square feet of manufacturing space, including ISO Class 5 and Class 7 enclosures. Spectrum is both ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certified and all lasers are operated in a carefully controlled environment.

We are committed to providing responses and quotes within a few days of the original request. Our engineering team reviews each request and openly discusses estimated lead times for the potential project. Spectrum offers off-the-shelf laser array tubing and laser cut marker bands in various configurations in our webstore. This is a great option for engineers working on development projects that require laser—processed parts quickly. All our webstore components are in stock and ready to ship.

We do not process any PVC currently due to very noxious gas produced as a byproduct.

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