Journal of SMT Article


Author: James Marshall et al.
Company: Crystalaid Group of Companies
Date Published: 7/1/2004   Volume: 17-3

Abstract: Electronic medical devices are becoming more prevalent in the treatment of medical ailments. These devices are used as monitors, sensors, and more commonly these days as critical diagnostic devices for tissue and internal exploratory surgery. Whilst there is no question that medical devices have had an enormous impact on the quality of life of users, this is tempered somewhat by the fact that the devices themselves are obtrusive. The drive in today's market is to package more technology into a smaller form factor, thereby making these more ergonomic and less obtrusive and delivering better performance and reliability. This paper discusses the impact of these technological advancements on medical devices.

The primary focus of early medical devices was the correct analytical function of the product. This focus in addition to the technology available at the time meant that these devices were large and cumbersome. Further advancements in technology have focused on the reduction in size, to the point where they do not affect mobility, but can still be obtrusive when used on a patient.

Recent advances in micro technology in design and manufacture have meant that making medical devices significantly less obtrusive is part of the design brief. Circuit designers are looking at technologies such as application specific integrated circuits (ASIC) and system on chip (SoC), whilst mechanical designers are looking at smart material and assembly technologies. The convergence of these two strands of engineering is improving the devices for the patient and practitioner, making them more user friendly and less obtrusive, and giving a better analysis of data gathered. As a result of these technologies, the component count and footprint of components is reducing without limiting the system capabilities.

The speed of advancement in technology means that we are now within reach of the ultimate goal of some medical devices being completely "invisible", as well as being independently sustainable for the lifetime of the device. Further advances in technology will make it possible to treat ailments that were previously thought too difficult to treat.

Key words: packaging, medical, advances.

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