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Meet our MDTX Speaker: Carsten Horn

Sept. 18, 2018
The fall MDTX taking place in October will bring together medical device experts and the engineering industry to discuss the new innovations entering the medical field.

This upcoming October, Machine Design and Electronic Design will be hosting the 2nd Medical Device Technology Exchange (MDTX) in San Diego. The MDTX conference will bring together experts on medical devices and the medical engineering industry together to highlight the new technological innovations changing the industry. Our profile series will highlight our expert speakers that will be at MDTX. For more information on attending the event, visit the MDTX site.

Carsten Horn—Business Development Engineer for Medical Applications, Maxon Precision Motors

Who are you, and what is your background in engineering and in the medical device industry?

I studied physics and mechatronics and worked my whole career on things that require motion. I specialize on miniaturized custom application and complex electromechanical systems and subsystems. With over 20 years of experience in this market and being responsible for the development of components, modifications, and complex systems, I have also developed some technical knowledge of this industry.

A component overview:

  • Electrical motors
  • Electro-Thermal and crystal resonance drives
  • Gears
  • Sensors
  • Some controllers 

A miniaturized medical system overview:

  • Mechatronic highly integrated system
  • Ambulatory drug pumps
  • Surgical robots and surgical tools
  • Medical power tools and attachments

What is your conference topic and why is it important for the medical device industry?

I want to share some of my experiences and what I have learned over the years with those who may benefit from it. You can read and hear a lot about inside-out design, lean development, or scrum. I want to share some best practice experience that worked out for me very well and discuss some of the processes that were very helpful. As the medical device industry is on the path of doing more automatization to help patients, surgeons, and nurses with smaller and smaller units that act more intelligent while collecting and exchanging data, I want to take a look into some options.

What is the biggest issue when designing a medical device?

This is a difficult question to answer because it can certainly depend heavily on the application. It can vary from quality, documentation, technical, and process capability to cost and capacity.

What new technology, in your opinion, will change medical devices forever?

I see a few major technologies:

  • The possibility to crosslink devices and the data they generate/receive through a network;
  • The advances of smaller sensors and more sophisticated sensors that gave the option of collecting more patient data;  
  • Artificial intelligence that makes difficult control loops applications possible and stable;
  • Miniaturization that leads devices to places in or on the patient’s body, where it hasn’t been possible before.

What’s the most important thing you can impart to the readers, a teaser, if you will, for what they can expect to hear during your session at the MDTX event?

Again, this depends on the individual’s background. The approach of outside in => inside out development with the right tools can be helpful. The idea of generating a strong mathematical model that transfer the customer requirements, which are outside parameters, to inside parameters, give you the option of designing from inside out. The model gives you the option to vary parameters and understand immediately the impact on the requirements. This allows you to easily find some interesting solutions and worth building up as variants. I also think the approach of verifying your model on the right point and in a simple way is helpful. Some of the technologies that are developed, and their usage, could also be useful to finding new solutions.  

Anything else you would like to add about this topic or yourself that readers would be interested to hear?

I’m always very interested in the applications companies in the medical device industry are working on. A discussion on existing solutions, best practice examples, and new challenges is what drives me. I am opened to explore and discuss the reader’s individual challenges and find solutions that work.

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