The customer develops and manufactures diagnostic and surgical devices for ophthalmology. In eye laser treatments, a curved flap is cut in the top layer of the cornea and pulled back. This flap was previously cut with an oscillating knife. The company wanted to use a femtosecond laser for this task. In the treatment, the ophthalmologist fixes the eye in place with a flexible handpiece using a vacuum. The base device deflects the laser beam through a swivelling arm into the handpiece and focuses it there. An ultra-precise X-Y deflection creates the cutting geometry. Zühlke’s task was to develop the device and design the system.
As a first step in the project, Zühlke examined the technical feasibility of the undertaking. In order to verify the major risks early on, ideas and concepts were elaborated upon and implemented with the customer and other partners in a functional model with the handpiece and articulated arm. Initial cutting trials yielded very positive results.