Micro engineering must conform to the need for devices, such as pace makers and hearing aids, to fit as comfortably as possible within the human body. Again, the form factor could be in the correct scale, but biocompatibility and handling ease become the principle drivers. Due to the unique needs of the medical device market, there will always be a level of customization that requires a detailed specification (SPEC). SPEC-driven applications can benefit from previous designs from other industries with adjustments to the medical application requirements.
Thus, a key consideration for device manufacturers is the choice of interconnects that make it possible to reliably transmit data, signals, images and power. The effectiveness of healthcare devices relies heavily on the underlying electronic interconnects with robust design and engineering that enable devices to perform as expected.
For medical devices, the interconnects must have secure contacts with high mating cycles, long lifetimes and durable materials to survive the rigors of everyday use in environments that can include a variety of fluids. Devices must also take into account possible accidental physical interference, such as hospital carts running over cables. In addition, interconnects must meet many other challenges and requirements, including tight signal integrity tolerances; a high number of mating and actuation cycles; and reduced losses due to resistance, stringent electromagnetic interference, radiofrequency and crosstalk characteristics.
When choosing interconnects for medical devices, it helps to work with a manufacturer that has proven expertise in developing connectors that perform in harsh environments from other industries such as chemical, solar, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, military and telecom. These industries require some of the same rigorous attributes that the medical device industry requires, such as reliability, durability, flexibility, high speed copper or fiber-optic and small size, and manufacturers with experience in developing interconnects for such conditions typically offer a range of connector platings that ensure durability.
Working with medical device interconnects that feature all of these attributes is now more important than ever because of the critical nature of medical device performance. As electronics advance and merge, it is critical that the risks and benefits of interconnects be assessed with the device designer. Failure of a heart monitor, for example, carries much greater risk than failure of a smart phone or a router handling consumer phone calls.
And with the rising cost of healthcare significantly changing how patients receive treatment, and with in-home care becoming more common, the demand for smaller and portable medical equipment is likely to increase sharply in the coming years. Medical design firms will need to choose their interconnects wisely in order to meet this need effectively.
Molex has been delivering proven solutions to medical device manufacturers since 2005, and recently formed the Medical Connector and Cable Assembly Business Unit to directly address the increasing demand for advanced interconnect products in this market. A diverse range of products and solutions are available through the company’s MediSpec portfolio such as the MediSpec hybrid circular MT cable and receptacle system shown in Figure 2, or the plastic circular connector system featuring a low force helix contact design to provide a high-performance and affordable alternative to typical medical circular connectors. Molded interconnect device/laser direct structuring capabilities can be used to combine the versatility of the two-shot molding process and the speed and precision of laser direct structuring capabilities. This process can help medical device designers integrate complex electrical and mechanical features into highly compact applications. The acquisition of Temp-Flex, a manufacturer of microminiature wire, cable and continuous coils using biomedical coating and medical grade base metals, further helps Molex develop technologies that provide medical device manufacturers with the maximum in product efficiency, reliability and flexibility.
Figure 2: The MediSpec hybrid circular cable receptacle offers an integrated optical and electrical solution that reduces the number of connectors required in medical equipment and devices.
About the author
Anthony J. Kalaijakis is strategic Marketing Manager Medical for Molex Incorporated – www.molex.com
Courtesy of EETimes Europe
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