Yesterday was day 2 of the Medical Device Technology Exchange. The show floor was open for attendees to browse and make network connections with the medical device companies being showcased. The conference floor not only offered companies with production knowledge, design insight, and manufacturing expertise, but also medical industry experts holding conferences to share their knowledge with the engineers in attendance.
3D Printing with Fisher Unitech and Stratasys
3D printing is the emerging new manufacturing method in the medical industry. Prior hurdles such as FDA regulations and product quality are being resolved, opening the door for additive manufacturing to be used with educational tools, surgery preparation, and rapid prototyping. Rick Gillespie is the healthcare business development manager for Fisher Unitech. At the MDTX conference, Gillespie (along with the Stratasys 3D printer on display) showcased how 3D printing will:
- Reduce costs, improve patient care, and/or increases speed and accuracy of product usage.
- Result in improved profitability, increase new technology approval, and accelerate the timeframe for device verification and validation.
- Provide greater productivity and lower costs.
- Eliminate manufacturing issues, making production faster and more responsive.
igus Medical Bearings
igus is a leader in plastic components—in particular, plastic bearings designed to replace metal bearings. For the medical industry, it is crucial that the components be self-lubricating, cleanroom-compatible, media-resistant, corrosion-free and noise-dampening. On display at the MDTX conference, igus showcased its plastic bearings and energy chains encompassing all of these properties. Self-lubricating bearings are used in X-ray robots, laboratory devices, patient chairs, hospital beds, and prostheses, among others. Maintenance-free energy chains are also used to protect and guide cables in operating theater devices, rehabilitation systems, and imaging diagnostic equipment.
Medical Manufacturing with Zober Industries
Many of the attendees at the MDTX conference are looking for manufacturers to help build their products. Zober Industries is a one-stop build service that offers a range of services. It has surface-mount technology for rapid assembly of boards, including double-sided, fine pitch, PCMCIA cards, BGAs, and flip chips. The company offers PCB assembly, either by hand or an automated process. In its build site, the firm also offers electro-mechanical assembly and custom sheet metal fabrication. And last but not least, Zober Industries offers precision machining, along with knowledge and expertise with respect to CNC mills, lathes, and other manufacturing machines.
Sterilized Motor Drives with Maxon Motors
Maxon Motors’ presentation at MDTX was on how to go about miniaturizing your medical device and properly size the motor components for your design. At the show they had on display several of their motors, including their new first sterilizable drive system. A new sterilizable encoder offers engineers a complete system with high-speed BLDC motor, gear head, and encoder that withstands more than 1,000 autoclave cycles. Advantages of a sterilizable drive system are up to 120,000 revolutions per minute, transmission of high torques and speeds with up to 90% efficiency, and integrated incremental or absolute encoder. It is configurable online within 11 days.
Intech Polymer Rollers for Track-Based Automation
As mentioned before, polymer components are useful in medical because they offer a cleaner product. Intech’s Power-core polymers are a good replacement of standard-sized metal rollers an are even sized the same for instant swapping of parts. They help eliminate lubrication, stop wear and galling, and run smoother and quieter. The polymer rollers also cost less and help maximize speed by weight 40% less than metal rollers. They can be used in magnetic conveyors, palletizers, body scans, cam driven systems, transportation, and medical packaging.
Micron-scale Circuits from Metrigraphics
Metrigraphics help medical engineers bring their designs to the micron scale. Most components engineered to work at the macro scale do not work at the 5-10 micron scale. They have to be reinvented and manufactured in a new way to function in the smaller framework. Metrigraphics’ electroforming technology fabricates high aspect ratio conductors. The company makes a wide variety of ultra-miniature circuits to help produce smaller designs. Their complex micro-coil consists of four coils, each with 44 turns layered one over another and series wound for a total of 176 turns. Their coils are made of different materials like pure gold or copper, and can be biocompatible for patient safety.
A Full Design House from Design Design, iMet, and Precision Systems
For those looking to turn their concept idea into reality, the booth of Design Design, iMet, and Precision Systems looks to be your answer. The three companies offer individual services and can be combined into one single product. Design Design is a comprehensive product development service that can build and commercialize your product. iMet is an electronics development company that offer electrical design knowledge for design aspects like PCB boards or signal processing. Lastly, Precision Systems is a software company that can create custom firmware and software for your medical device.
Customized Medical Motors from Portescap
Portescap has provided customized and miniaturized motor solutions that have helped develop the infusion system field. Their coreless coils and coreless gearmotors coincided with the release of portable home infusion pumps of the 70s and portable insulin pumps of the 80s. As pumps have progressed into the smart era with interconnection capabilities, their athlonix coreless motors and integrate feedback have been used in these devices. 90% of Portescap business is in customization, and the company offers a wide range of products for surgical power tools, infusion systems, respiratory care, dental hand tools, and lab automation.
Schneider Electric 4-axis Lexium Motion Module
Lexium Motion Module (LMM) from Schneider Electric is a programmable motion controller with powerful H-bridge driver. LMM delivers the ultra-compact size and ﬂexibility of a chipset, but retains the power capability and features of Schneider’s Lexium MDrive integrated motors, including MCode programming language. The LMM is available in programmable motion control and CANopen control types. For the medical industry, the LMM offers four axes. Three of the axes are for the x, y, and z operations. The fourth can control a device like a medical pump for medicine delivery.