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Connecting the Digital Dentistry Revolution

Fri, 04/04/2008 - 12:08pm

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The Project: Determine the best method with which to attach the image sensors of an intraoral camera.
The Solution: Use a miniature connector that employs a split pin contact to ensure high signal integrity.

By Joe Held

Joe Held is the Asia Pacific sales manager for Omnetics Connector Corp. He has been with the company for 18 years, previously serving as a sales engineer. Held can be reached at 763-746-8706 or jheld@omnetics.com.

Suni Medical Imaging Inc. has a history of pioneering many image sensor technologies for demanding scientific and medical imaging applications. The company has developed a miniature portable camera designed to allow dentists to show patients the health of their teeth. Because the camera has to be small enough to fit inside a patient’s mouth, and also lightweight and portable so that dentists can easily take the device from one operatory to another, the Suni team was presented with some tricky design challenges, not least of which was designing the interconnect systems required to handle the signals from the imaging systems.

The Omnetics cable assembly used in Suni Medical's SuniCam portable intaroral camera.



Suni has taken a leading role in the digital dentistry revolution. In 1995, the company developed the world's thinnest intraoral film sized digital dental x-ray sensors which enabled many companies to enter the digital radiography business. Today, Suni provides both components and technology for OEM customers as well as selling intraoral cameras and digital radiographic solutions under its own brand name. Suni's High Quality X-Ray Sensors and Imaging Systems are designed and manufactured in its advanced ISO-9001 certified facility. The company takes great pride in the performance, reliability, and ease of use of its products.

A unique aspect of Suni's vertically integrated capabilities is a core expertise in all aspects of CCD, CMOS, and CMOS/CCD semiconductor device technology development, integrated circuit chip design, as well as manufacturing processes.

One of the company’s key products is its tiny SuniCam portable intraoral camera, which enables dentists to document and show outer areas of the teeth and gums—including lesions, cracks, and calculus build-up to patients on a computer screen. Weighing only one ounce, SuniCam can be plugged directly into any USB port on a standard Windows-based PC or laptop, so there is no need for video cards. Because of its size and weight, dentists can easily carry a SuniCam from operatory to operatory in their pockets, and the crystal-clear images it provides improves diagnoses.

Leading dental practitioners are reporting excellent patient feedback. Comments Dr. James Jesse, assistant professor of Restorative Dentistry at the Loma Linda University, "Suni helps my patients have a better experience in my chair. The remarkable thing is that it makes my job easier."

Early on in the design phase, the development team considered bonding directly to the CCD image sensor chips. However, this would have proved a difficult and time-consuming process. Instead they turned to Omnetics in search of a reliable, miniature connection system.

Omnetics Connector Corp. focuses on supplying interconnect systems for demanding applications such as UAV (Unmanned Airborne Vehicle) systems which require very light, very small, and very rugged electronic components. The company has developed a wide portfolio of connectors, including Nano-Miniature devices based on a pitch of just 0.025 inches. Although tiny in size, because they employ Omnetics’ Flex Pin—a unique split pin contact—Nano-Miniature connectors ensure signal integrity is maintained even under extremes of temperature, shock, and vibration.

Omnetics supplies Suni with 16 position single strip Nano connectors complete with video cable assembly, saving assembly time. Although Omnetics’ Nano-Miniature connectors were chosen for use on the SuniCam primarily because of their size, durability and reliability were also paramount considerations for Suni, as the company had built a reputation on the performance, reliability, and ease of use of its products.

SuniCam is at the heart of a move towards giving patients a better experience in the chair. Miniature, rugged, and reliable electronic components are allowing today’s dentists to employ the latest in digital techniques to deliver a much improved standard of care.

Online

For additional information on the technologies and products discussed in this article, see MDT online at www.mdtmag.com and the following websites:• www.omnetics.com• www.suni.com

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