Other small monitoring devices include wearable heart monitors in various forms. Astronauts on International Space Station missions are using BodyMedia's FIT Armbands, which look like a large wristwatch, to track their levels of physical activity and sleep patterns. The armbands contain a proprietary four-sensor system that collects 5,000 data points per minute. Its materials include ABS, polycarbonate, polyurethane, nylon, polyester, silicone, and stainless steel.
Another electronic heart monitor, made by iRhythm Technologies, is the wearable, bandage-sized Zio Patch, in a thermoplastic elastomer housing. Compared to the much larger standard heart monitor, the Zio's electronics depend on one lead, not three, and it can gather data for two weeks, not two or three days.
An explosion in wearable medical monitors includes many that monitor activity levels, sleep patterns, or heart rhythm. iRhythm Technologies' Zio Patch ECG monitor houses electronics in a 4.8 inch x 2.0 inch x 0.4 inch, bandage-sized thermoplastic elastomer housing. (Source: iRhythm Technologies)
One of the biggest drivers of design and technology crossovers from consumer electronics is the trend toward home healthcare instead of hospitalizing patients. Fallon said:
We are seeing devices used in the home healthcare arena, such as sleep apnea machines, becoming smaller, both for ease of use, which can positively impact patient compliance, and for greater aesthetic appeal. Medical equipment used in the home needs to include design features, such as decorative handles, that make it look like it belongs there, instead of resembling a piece of medical equipment.
For injection molding of healthcare devices, SABIC offers Lexan EXL and Lexan HFD resins, which enable high-flow materials without sacrificing impact and ductility. High flow helps to fill out the mold completely, including fine details like thin walls, or delicate decorative elements. The company's Cycoloy CX resin provides thin walls and flame retardancy, helping devices maintain UL performance while becoming smaller and lighter.
As electronics are more frequently included in miniaturized medical devices, effects on materials not only include greater use of plastics, but also changes in thermally conductive materials. For example, copper, which is common in other electronic devices, can't be used for those that contact patients' bodies.
One new thermal control material is annealed pyrolytic graphite (APG). APG is typically encapsulated within a biocompatible metal, and is a lighter and more efficient solid heat conductor compared to metals such as copper or aluminum. This encapsulation makes APG versatile enough to be used in several medical designs, such as surgical instruments and devices that contact the human body.
A few years ago, I wrote a trend report titled "Smaller, Faster, Better" highlighting not only nano and micro technologies but also a general sizing down across the board. A striking number of experts dismissed it as irrelevant for the American market. I love having articles like this that back up my trend reports with current information. Thank you!
I'd love to see the process 3M and IBM are developing in action. It sounds amazing. It's good to see 3M in new areas.
Some of the most interesting and fun applications I found during reporting this story were the small health monitoring devices. For example, you can see pictures of the Japanese swallowable endoscope in use, both outside and inside the body, here: http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/articles/170187/20110627/japanese-scientists-invent-mermaid-tiny-remote-controlled-pill-camera-examine-digestive-tract.htm and a video of one from the University of Washington here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlQN3c04mu0
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
New sensor technology integrates sensors, traces, and electronics into a smart fabric for wearables that measures more dimensions -- force, location, size, twist, bend, stretch, and motion -- and displays data in 3D maps.
As we saw on the show floor this week at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing and co-located events in Anaheim, Calif., 3D printing is contributing to distributed manufacturing and being reinvented by engineers for their own needs. Meanwhile, new fasteners are appearing for wearable consumer and medical devices and Baxter Robot has another software upgrade.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.