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Stepper Motors Scan Aesthetic Laser Beams

Compact, Lightweight Stepper Motors Provide Reliable, Consistent Performance For Handpiece-Mounted Skin Resurfacing Laser.

Laser skin resurfacing is one of the fastest growing application areas for medical lasers. When aesthetic laser manufacturer, Cutera Inc. out of Brisbane, CA began to develop an innovative new skin-resurfacing laser called the Pearl, their engineers turned to MICROMO to provide a precision motion solution using FAULHABER stepper motors with PRECIstep® technology in a compact, lightweight assembly.

The Pearl, a skin-resurfacing laser from Cutera
Skin Resurfacing Handpiece

Although the pioneering work in skin resurfacing was done with carbon dioxide lasers operating at 10.6 µm and erbium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Er:YAG) emitting at 2.94 µm, Cutera wanted to leverage a more exotic laser material called erbium-doped yttrium scandium gallium garnet (Er:YSGG; 2.79 µm). The shorter wavelength offers a different tissue interaction from that of other aesthetic lasers to provide better response and faster healing time.

That wavelength difference also requires tradeoffs. In most skin-resurfacing systems, the laser itself resides in the base of the instrument and an articulated arm transmits the light to the handpiece. One option was transmission by optical fiber, but the wavelength emitted by Er:YSGG cannot propagate through standard fiber, and IR-transmitting fibers are expensive, fragile, and difficult to obtain. Another approach was to relay the beam through the articulated arm using mirrors, but the arms move and suffer routine shock and vibration, causing such designs to be unreliable. The team needed a different approach, so they decided to build a compact laser in the handpiece itself.

In addition to the laser rod, flashlamp, electronics, cavity mirrors, and cooling materials, the handpiece needed to include a shutter to allow beam calibration, and an xy scan assembly to direct the 6-mm-diameter beam over the patient’s skin. The latter was the challenge. There have been a few instances of lasers built into handpieces, but never with an integrated two-axis scanner. “The stepper motors were one of the reasons we were able to do that,” says Scott Davenport, director of product development at Cutera. In order to avoid operator hand fatigue, the unit had to be both lightweight and balanced; Cutera produced a handpiece that weighs only 1.5 lbs.

 To learn more about the stepper motors and various configurations offered by MICROMO, visit the product selector for more information.

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