Improved K-Wire Manufacturing

We wanted to share some exciting news. In the last year Modern Grinding has drastically improved our K-Wire capabilities due to increased customer demand and needs. We recently purchased a new grinding machine which is highly automated and makes amazingly sharp trocar tips and diamond tips, perfect for K-Wires. We have also started stocking common stainless steel wire sizes and some nitinol wires as well.

What does this mean for K-Wire Designers and Suppliers?

With our improvements, we are able to achieve faster lead times, higher quality, higher repeat-ability and more competitive pricing. If you have K-Wire needs or would like to re-quote your project, don’t hesitate to reach out. We have manufactured K-Wires in quantities of 50 and 100,000 alike. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Guide Wire or Guy Wire

This is a question that many people were typing into google so we thought that we would help you out.

Guide wire which is also sometimes spelled as guidewire, is used to guide another medical instrument into place such as a catheter. They are small wires with diameters often less then 1mm.

guy-wire or guy-rope, also known as simply a guy, is a tensioned cable designed to add stability to a free-standing structure.

I hope this answers the question once and for all. Here is more information about guidewires.

Wire Manufacturers Cycle Speed Test (Time vs. Quality)

As custom wire manufacturers we often manufacture small runs (100, 200, 500) of prototype products. Manufacturing quality is and always will be our number one goal. Often times we come to a cross road trying to determine what is the fastest cycle time that we can achieve while keeping quality constant. When we are only creating 100 products, there is little reason to run cycle time trials since the production size is so small. To run a cycle time test, you need to check every part after you are done. You then need to check every product for a series until you are confident that the speed will not affect products over the long run.

This post was meant to spark more questions than solve. I wanted to discuss our process. If you have your own process methodology, we would love to hear it. Please email any discussion pieces to We recently had a job which took us 4 minutes per piece when we started out. By the time we were done, we could create the same product in less than 1 minute. This was a larger 20,000 piece order. We did time tests out of necessity.

Cycle Time Test Considerations

  • Initial Quality Check
  • Repeat-ability of Cycle Time and Quality
  • Does the Wheel Wear Faster?
  • What is the Optimal Speed Adjustment Size?
  • Should we manufacture faster but grind the wire multiple times?

The optimal speed adjustment size is the biggest factor to test. At Modern Grinding, we time test by speeding up the cycle time 6% each time for the first ten cycles. We then take all of the finished products and measure them against each other to make sure that they are all in spec and they are no material changes in shape or sharpness.

To date, we have only run this type of trial once and it was for a 20,000 piece order. I believe that having a standardized process could help shave large amounts of time off of manufacturing. We are interested to hear if you have tried a similar process and if you have any suggestions.


Catheter Stylet

The word stylet can have a variety of meanings. In medicine it can mean a wire run through a catheter or cannula to render it stiff or to remove debris from its lumen. A catheter stylet is run through a catheter for stiffness or to remove debris. Some doctors will also interchange the term guide wire with stylet.

Catheter Introducer

A catheter stylet used as a catheter introducer would more commonly be called a guide wire than a stylet. A catheter introducer can be ground to a taper to allow the introducer to more easily enter a vessel prior to a catheter.

Catheter Flexibility

Designed to assist in the insertion of catheters and drains when indicated. They are typically made of stainless steel and feature a locking handle that holds the catheter taut during insertion.

Catheter Stylet Stop

An item consisting of a metallic collar with a setscrew which may be tightened against the shaft of a STYLET, CATHETER at a desired position to prevent introduction of the stylet beyond such position.

Stylet Manufacturing

No matter what you call a stylet, Modern Grinding can make them. Please contact us for help with your next project.

Bipolar Electrode

Bipolar electrochemistry is a phenomenon in electrochemistry based on the polarization of conducting objects in electric fields. Indeed, this polarization generates a potential difference between the two extremities of the substrate that is equal to the electric field value multiplied by the size of the object. – Wikipedia

Modern Grinding is a custom contract manufacturer of bipolar electrode monitoring assemblies. We have a manufacturing facility and clean room assembly facilities capable of fabricating wires with the currents that electrode product designers need.

Electrode Testing

Modern Grinding works with customers to develop and design bipolar electrode assembly testing boards. We 100% test electrode assemblies prior to shipping.

Electrode Monitoring

An electrode in an ECG monitoring device can be used for long term patient monitoring. Modern Grinding uses the highest level of quality systems to ensure our customers devices succeed over the long term.

What is a Guidewire

The terms guidewire and catheter are often interchanged by non-technical professionals, we wanted to provide a simple description of what a guidewire is and how it works.

Guidewires are used to guide catheter products to a desired treatment location within the body. They are typically inserted into patients through a small incision in the groin and then maneuvered through arteries and vessels to the area of vascular disease.

Single Use

Once in place, the catheter is threaded over the guidewire for treatment. The introducer wire is then pulled out of the system and disposed of.

Minimally Invasive

Guidewires are considered minimally invasive since it only takes a small incision to get the wire into the system. Compared to alternative options, the guide wire is much less invasive. Improvements in imaging and sensor technologies allows the guidewire to be placed much more accurately.

Other Uses of the Term

Some people may call a K-Wire a guidewire which is technically correct but not the common usage. In Spinal surgery, the k-wire is used to penetrate bone in a precise spot. After the k-wire is firmly in place, a cannulated screw is placed over the K-wire and screwed into place. After the screw is firmly placed, the k-wire is taken out.

Minimally Invasive Solutions and MIS K-Wires

Modern Grinding attended the North American Spine Surgery annual convention in New Orleans and learned a lot about how our Nitinol K-Wires are used in surgery. We manufacture K-Wires for over 20 spine medical device companies who were displaying at the convention. Prior to attending the convention, I was under the impression that the K-Wires we manufacture were used as an implanted fixation device in the spine. I was wrong.

In the spinal medical device community, Modern Grinding K-Wires are used as “guidewires” in MIS fusion systems. The doctors use nitinol wires because they are flexible, strong, and small such that they are easy to navigate to the bone which is being operated on. After the K-Wire is guided to the correct location. A cancellous screw or cannulated screw is placed over the k-wire and screwed into the bone and a plate. Once screwed into place, the K-wire is removed and the screw is implanted for longer term use. In minimally invasive surgery, less of a footprint is opened up for surgery.

One medical device R&D researcher asked me how many of our nitinol K-Wires have threads and why device designers use thread in K-Wires as apposed to just having a product they could hammer into the bone. I can’t really answer that, I am not the designer. About 80% of our nitinol K-Wires have threads vs. a much smaller percentage of our Stainless Steel wires have threads. My guess is that the thread enables the K-Wire to maintain a stronger hold in the bone while the screw is placed over it.

We really enjoyed the convention and all of the companies we had a chance to speak with. If you are a MIS spine fusion researcher or engineer don’t hesitate to contact us with questions about our nitinol K-Wires. We are getting more and more requests and consider ourselves to be one of the leaders in this field. We look forward to helping with your next project!

Micro Pressure Sensor Wire Fabrication

As medical devices evolve, external system monitoring devices and sensors will continue to improve and lead to better medical care. External monitoring decreases the need for surgery and increases the number of applications which involve less invasive procedures. Modern Grinding is working on several micro pressure sensor projects with research groups.

The smaller a guidewire is, the less invasive it is and the greater opportunity to get through small openings. We manufacture profiles into extremely small core wire diameters which the micro sensors can be welded to or bonded into such that they won’t move. The guidewire and sensor are then long enough to send signals outside the body. We are capable of doing these types of guidewires and core wires in small prototype runs or mass production.

Our plasma welding, grinding, and coiling services make us a one stop manufacturer for your next micro pressure sensor or micro sensor project. Contact us today to find out what we are capable of!

Wire Prototype Research Kit

We work with multiple colleges, universities and corporate wire research groups using a wide variety of wire types and sizes. Several of these groups are doing wire prototype research in mice and require small wires often in the range of .6mm.  PhD researchers tend to know their trade VERY well, but they might not know wires as well which is where we step in.

Recently, we had a research group reach out, knowing that they needed nitinol wire but little else, since they hadn’t actually performed any tests yet. Did they need threads or smooth k-wires? Deep threads or shallow threads? Did they need a blunt tip, a radius tip, a diamond tip or a trocar tip? We know wire properties very well but we don’t know how they will react when implanted into a subject.

For the customer we ended up creating a customized medical device wire prototype kit with 8 different wire forms.  For us the hardest part of doing a job is the initial set up which includes writing the CNC program, dressing the wheels, changing out the tools, and testing parts until we get it exactly correct. For us to create 8 different wire forms of the same type of wire size, all we need to do is create new CNC programs which is the least time consuming of the set up. Our client recieved:

  1. Smooth no tips. 10 pieces. Short Length
  2. Smooth with a trocar tip. 10 pieces. Short Length
  3. Threaded no tips. 10 pieces – Short Length
  4. Sturdy Thread with a trocar tip.  10 pieces – Short Length
  5. Secondary Thread attempting to go to as deep in the wire as possible, no tip. 10 Pieces – Short Length.
  6. Smooth double trocar tips – 5 Pieces – Long Length
  7. Threaded double trocar tips –  5 Pieces – Long Length
  8. Secondary thread double trocar tips – 5 Pieces – Long Length

After the initial run, we will have the right wire sizes in stock and the correct CNC programs on file which will save us time and save our client money on the next order.

If you are doing research and would like a wire prototyping research kit, contact us today and we will work with you to find out the exact type of wire for you to use in research.


Medical Wire Prototype Manufacturing Demystified

If a consumer wanted to buy a custom manufactured Apple iPhone they would need to call up the original manufacturer and they would expect to pay more than if they bought an iPhone off of the shelf.  Apple makes millions of phones identical and because of this they can charge less for a standard phone than if they needed to custom manufacture one. The same applies to manufacturing wires. Every day we quote out multiple projects for medical wire prototypes and small product runs. We have generic products on our site which end up being much more affordable then the prototype runs and it is difficult to explain this to customers so I wanted to demystify our pricing on projects and lead times.


With each new product comes new engineering challenges. We need to make sure we can get the product scheduled on our machinery in a timely fashion. We need to determine which tooling needs to be set up on the machinery to accurately achieve the desired specifications. Sometimes this planning is easy, other custom wire jobs can be quite challenging.

Raw Materials

When customers request non-common wire sizes and wire materials we need to order these materials from a raw wire materials manufacturer. The raw materials manufacturer will quote us anywhere from one week to six weeks of lead time for the materials. Minimum order sizes are typically between $250 and $500 for a minimum lot order. As an example, if you only want a prototype run of 5 pieces and the minimum wire cost is $250, you are starting at $50 per wire before we have done anything. Modern Grinding works our best to stock common wire sizes to avoid minimum wire order charges and lead times.

Specialized Tips and Threads

When customers request non-common tips or thread sizes, those wire profiles need to be programmed into a cnc program by an engineer which takes labor time and machine time. For special threads, the wheel needs to be dressed for the specific thread. A typical wheel dress takes about 15-30 minutes and takes material off of a $100-$800 dollar wheel. After the parts are made, they need to be measured by the machine operator and engineer to make sure that the specialized tips and threads are being achieved to specification.

Tolerance Specs

The tighter the tolerance, the higher the price of creating the product. Tighter tolerances require more spot checks which requires more labor hours. Tighter specs also lead to more scrapped parts which leads to higher costs. If you are not sure what tolerance specs you would like to achieve, ask your manufacturer what their typical tolerance specs are.


Almost every project we do has a different wire size then the last project. In order to switch projects it requires time to take down one project and set up the next project. Due to the typical precision of our products, this requires multiple tests to make sure everything is set up correctly. We need to re-position the grinding wheel, redress the grinding wheel and set up all of the feeder and exit tubes. Typically we quote out 3 hours worth of set up and take down time per project. Again, in the example of trying to make 5 parts, we spend 3 hours of operator and machine time before we even can make 1 product.

Cycle Time

Cycle time doesn’t come into play too often with small runs, but what it means is the amount of time needed to make one piece. If we are doing a large run of 10,000 wires, we can figure out how to automate the process such as having automated feed in and exits set up. If we are only doing 5 parts, we need to hand feed the product into the machine which takes more time per piece.

I hope this helped demystify our pricing philosophy slightly but don’t let it deter you, Our prototype pricing is competitive in the wire manufacturing market and our quality is second to none. Please give us a chance to quote out your next prototype project and see how passionate we are about wires.