Journal of SMT Article

TRENDS IN MEDICAL DEVICE DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING

Author: Phil Salditt
Company: Plexus Technology Group
Date Published: 7/1/2004   Volume: 17-3

Abstract: An aging population in the US wants increased quality of life through more and better treatment options, without being restricted to a hospital, clinic, or doctor's office for the treatment of chronic conditions. And while house calls by a kindly old country doctor carrying his little black bag may be a thing of the past, home health care is coming back - albeit in a thoroughly modern way. Medical diagnostic and treatment devices today are increasingly sophisticated computer controlled electro-mechanical measurement instruments, previously available only in the most advanced laboratories.

The trend in medical device design and manufacturing is toward smaller, more portable products that require more advanced components, manufacturing technologies, and automation techniques. Medical products covering the range of patient monitors, drug delivery systems, therapeutic devices, and life assist devices all are shrinking in size while increasing in performance and features.

Wearable and even implantable devices that monitor, administer, treat, and track patient conditions are increasingly common replacements to large, complex instruments that up until recently only a physician or technician would typically use. Since these new products are patient portable, patient wearable, or implantable, designers look for low-power components, long-life rechargeable batteries, rugged designs, simple user interfaces, and low overall cost. In addition, with the patient as the intended user (and in some cases, the buyer), these new products increasingly include design considerations typically associated with consumer-type products, such as industrial design, ruggedness, user interface, portability, and wireless connectivity.

Similarly, the manufacturing requirements for these new product designs are beginning to look more like those for consumer products, including fine pitch component placement, high volume automated assembly, and sophisticated test techniques.

This paper presents several examples of patient wearable medical products, identifies the unique design and manufacturing considerations of such devices, and contrasts them to traditional medical device design and manufacturing practices. Observations about the consequent impact on component selection, design methodologies, such as DFM and DFT, and manufacturing techniques are also presented.



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