How are you influencing Portable Medical Devices?


Jeffrey VanZwol
Micro Power Electronics Inc

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 Mobility and portability are becoming increasingly common features for medical equipment. The mobilization of medical equipment is driven by three trends. First, the use of certain medical equipment has expanded beyond the hospital environment to emergency response and home care environments. Examples of these products include defibrillators, ultrasounds, and blood analysis equipment. Second, equipment within the hospital environment requires battery backup and mobility for the patient to transfer among wards. Hospitals attempt to get their patients ambulatory as soon as possible after procedures. Examples of these products include infusion pumps, ventilators, blood pumps, and multi-parameter monitors. Third, surgeons use many instruments that are traditionally tethered. Many of these instruments can be untethered when a battery pack powers the surgical instrument. Surgeons benefit from greater flexibility when traditionally tethered surgical instruments, such as orthopedic power tools or endoscopic devices, can be battery powered. Micro Power manufactures lithium-ion and lithium primary battery packs for all these medical devices, and specializes in assisting medical OEMs with the migration from legacy battery chemistries (nickel, lead acid, alkaline) to lithium chemistries.

Marcia Coulson
Eldon James Corp.

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Thermoforming methods allow making fixed bends in tubing without using bulky connectors. The process provides a multitude of solutions for medical device manufacture, robotics, and applications requiring connections to circuit board mounted components. Tight bend radii and the unique geometries achieved through thermoforming enhance an installation’s aesthetics and offer options where space is limited. Significant savings may be realized through reductions in assembly costs and fittings requirements.

Special controls and engineering techniques are used to ensure that the shape memory of a tube is overcome during the thermoforming process and that its flowpath is not compromised. Some types of tubing are more adaptable to this process, like Flexelene FX and CFX formulations, which exhibit the perfect combination of physical properties. These tubing resins also offer low extractables/leachables characteristics and meet USP Class VI, ISO 10993-4 and ISO 10993-5; general requirements for use in medical and bioprocess applications.

Phillip Kinson
Product Manager (Medical), Husky Injection Molding Systems

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Husky Injection Molding Systems is a leading supplier of plastic injection molding equipment to the medical industry. One particular growth area for Husky has been in portable medical devices used for the self administration of medication.

At Husky, we focus on the particular needs of each part. Our in-house flow simulation team works closely with many leading medical OEM R&D facilities to ensure device functionality and dosage accuracy is maintained while ensuring outer packaging is compact, user-friendly and attractively designed.

Our goal is to lightweight parts, minimize part size or reduce a parts’ number of internal components while maintaining functionality and durability. The target is to direct feed parts using valve gated hot runner technology of engineering resins with very low part weights often down to 0.1 gram. Elimination of cold runner technology is key to achieving minimal material usage, improved part dimensions/gate quality and improved cleanliness levels with molding often taking place in an ISO Class 7 (Class 10,000) cleanroom.

Husky is uniquely positioned to supply a complete H-MED AE (all-electric) medical molding system that is designed to achieve repeatable part quality and the highest possible process control required for cleanroom medical molding. By providing the H-MED injection molding machine, UltraSync-E servo-driven valve gated hot runner and Altanium temperature controller, we are able to provide complete melt stream management from pellet to part.

Gijs Werner
Global Market Manager Commercial Products for FCI

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FCI is closely involved with the major OEMs in portable medical equipment and extensive engineering expertise in application specific medical solutions. Thus, FCI is already at the core with OEMs to discuss and define alternative proven solutions.  FCI brings extensive Signal Integrity expertise to the area of digital imaging due to the strong position in high-speed Telecom/Datacom applications. Obviously, the medical world likes to see proven solutions, and FCi’s strong portfolio of reliable high-speed interconnect solutions suits medical equipment perfectly. A great example is the high-speed mezzanine connector MEG-Array, originally developed for the Intel Pentium II chip years ago began being used extensively as board to board connector in the Datacom world and now being used as a standard high speed connector in many digital imaging applications.

FCI also makes other companies aware of the opportunity to sell their products to the medical world. For example, ruggedized, tabled PC builders, traditionally focused on the military and offshore industries - are now successfully serving the medical industry with modified products, based on PC technology. FCI has the advantage of being able to offer PC standards like USB, SD-card readers and PCMCIA headers, which not only meets the PC industry standard, meets the need for harsh environments ruggedization required in medical applications. FCI's PC product solutions fit the demanding medical application specifications, for example, with a high number of mating cycles or with the ability to meet tough vibration requirements. FCI brings medical application knowledge to these non-medical companies thereby aiding in the modification of their products to successfully meet the portable medical device requirements.

The growing number of medical portable equipment for home use, such as blood pressure, sugar and heart monitors, has influenced the medical devices for home use that influence a healthy, active lifestyle.  The growing number of consumers purchasing this equipment is marrying the consumer and medical industries.  The side effect of this marriage has created the need for manufacturers and medical OEMs to work together to the meet the need for medical-grade equipment in the affordable consumer world.

Aidan Petrie
Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder at Ximedica

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As healthcare trends dictate the need for more portable therapeutic treatment options, the design landscape must also change to keep up with this demand.  Portable medical devices, which by nature need to be smaller, lighter, less intrusive and more intuitive, require sophisticated technology to achieve optimal performance in non-traditional settings. 

Products must be uniquely engineered to accommodate compact components that can seamlessly integrate with complex user-interfaces, but yet be reliable and discreet.   At Ximedica, we implement human factors engineering to understand all users, tasks and environments to develop fully integrated design solutions.

We use the latest advances in battery components to create a streamlined form, while at the same time can support high power needs for superior efficiency; while also engineering  robust GUI interfaces intrinsically designed to facilitate communication between physicians, the patients and the device.

The portable device market continues to evolve and developers must be prepared.  Miniaturization of core components (such as pumps) will be required; smart fabric and dressings will warrant advances in circuitry and adhesives, and non-invasive home monitoring and drug delivery systems, while having great consumer benefit, require sophisticated technology to be deemed reliable in the diverse environments of  “portable use”.