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The Warsaw Voice » Other » July 9, 2008
Technology
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Filling the Need for Spare Body Parts
July 9, 2008   
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Machine tool producer Barosz Gwimet in the southern Polish city of Wodzisław Śląski has a sideline in the processing of sapphire for use in medicine.

Being a precious stone, sapphire is well suited for the production of endoprostheses, or artificial replacements of body parts, because it is corrosion resistant and does not cause a chemical reaction when it comes into contact with body fluids.

Because of its interest in medical technology, Barosz Gwimet has joined southwestern Poland's Minatech Interregional Cluster for Innovative Technology that aims to improve the quality of life in the region via the development of new technology, particularly micro- and nanotechnology and biomedical engineering.

Barosz Gwimet's core business is in making numerically controlled machines to produce metal components for the automotive, mining and aviation sectors. The company's clients in Poland include factories such as Mahle Krotoszyn, Delphi Krosno, Valeo Czechowice-Dziedzice, and Apator Mining Pszów. All the company's machines are designed and built in house. Barosz Gwimet has gained an excellent reputation in the industry, and its machines have won many awards. Its CKZ 42 lathe won a gold medal at the Poznań International Fair in 2004, as did its CKZ 500 lathe in 2005. Barosz Gwimet unveiled its BCZ 600 Karlik vertical lathe at the 2006 Poznań International Fair, and a year later exhibited its CNC CKZ 42 Duplo and BCZ 1200 Ondraszek lathes. This year the company has designed two machines for training purposes as well production: the CKZ 16 Mini lathe and the BCZ 200 Mini vertical lathe.

Barosz Gwimet's newest products and prototypes are exhibited each year at the largest industry fairs in Poland and the EMO fair in Hanover, Germany. All the company's products comply with the ISO 9001:2000 quality assurance standard.

Barosz Gwimet has a designed department kitted out with the latest tools and CAD/CAM software, which results in a short period of time between design and completion. The company continually invests in new technology. Currently it is working on a completely new project that involves machining crystal sapphire for medical use. The company is pursuing the project as part of southwestern Poland's Minatech Interregional Cluster for Innovative Technology. The Minatech cluster is the result of the Małopolska region's earlier participation in Europe-wide research into micro- and nanotechnologies and biomedical engineering.

"We were invited to join the cluster since we are working on a hip implant, and the cluster promotes the latest technologies in medicine," says Marek Zając, Barosz Gwimet's CEO. "Our firm from the very beginning has specialized in metal machining but we have also been looking for more specialized market niches. Two years ago, at the initiative of the Cracow University of Technology and the Institute for Sustainable Technologies in Radom, we took an interest in the machining of sapphire for use in the production of endoprostheses. This mineral is well suited for medical usage since, being a precious stone, it does not react with body fluids. Materials currently used for the production of prostheses in Poland are not very good quality and often result in corrosion at the metal-bone joint. Thus we got the idea of using sapphires in endoprostheses. Such a product requires very precise machining and we reckoned that with our machining experience we could enter this more interdisciplinary field and create a product to aid bio-medicine."

Currently five people are working on the sapphire machining technology. In the future Barosz Gwimet may also focus on machining titanium. With regard to sapphires, the major technological problems have been resolved and equipment is ready to build a specialist lathe. The company hopes that the new lathe will be operational by the end of next year. Additional funding is needed and Zając hopes to find an investor via his firm's Minatech membership. "I perceive the Minatech cluster as being much more than just about financing," says Zając. "Such an association helps better manage and divide up areas of work. My firm is entering a specialist niche in machining tools but is well aware that it is functioning within a chain. Institutes research new technology and we supply hospitals with prostheses that we make utilizing this technology. Minatech's mission rightly prioritizes bioengineering, which is an area with huge development potential. Demand for 'spare' body parts is constantly growing and this trend will only get stronger. Our firm is very interested in working together with scientists and industry, and I think that as part of Minatech we will have a better opportunity to do so than if we worked on our own."

Ewa Dereń
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