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The miniaturisation of medical devices: smaller devices, smarter components
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edical devices have come a long way in recent years, with technological advancements allowing for real-time data transmission for continuous monitoring and even predictive AI for early intervention healthcare. A notable trend in the medical device market is miniaturisation, with everything from pacemakers to cochlear implants getting smaller, but what is driving these trends and what is next for manufacturers?
Minimally invasive surgery
Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) procedures are on the rise, aided by advanced technology that makes increasingly precise surgery possible. According to a GlobalData report, the surgical robot market is also set to grow, reaching $14.5 billion in 2030 in order to fill the demand for less invasive surgical interventions such as cardiovascular operations.
Smaller medical devices make for less invasive procedural techniques, less trauma during surgeries, and shorter recovery times. Not only does this help patients return to their normal lives much sooner, but it takes considerable strain off healthcare infrastructure that is being stretched by a growing number of patients with long-term health needs.
Smaller and more portable devices
According to GlobalData’s Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Devices research report RPM became one of the fastest growing and most in-demand industries in 2020 and 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst in the greatly expedited adoption rate of RPM devices, and the global market value is expected to surpass $645m by 2025, representing an 18% increase since 2020.
RPM devices represent the life-changing effect that smart technology is having on the healthcare industry; not only saving patients, but also allowing them to return to a better quality of living. Continuous monitoring devices for applications such as glucose or hemodynamic monitoring enable patients and healthcare providers to access data from a mobile phone or computer. The implantable devices that monitor a patient’s vitals and transmit this data are getting increasingly smaller thanks to advancements in microtechnology and ultra-fine medical wire.
Miniaturised RDIDs can be incorporated into medical devices, which can allow physicians to access important patient medical records with a scan. This is also beneficial for inventory management, as RDID technology enables information such as life-cycle, sterilisation and maintenance requirements to be monitored and stored.
Ultra-fine sensory medical wire
The miniaturisation of medical devices requires ultra-fine wire components. Achieving this demands precision cutting and wire grinding capabilities beyond which many medical device manufacturers have in-house. But the challenges do not stop there.
Many of these implantable miniaturised medical devices will need to last for years to come, meaning that the medical wire components require excellent fatigue resistance. Not only this, but they need to be extremely reliable and accurate in their ability to sense changes and transmit real-time data. Depending on the application, ultra-fine wire may need to be tightly coiled or incorporate multifilar wire-constructions.
In addition to the wire itself, the coating for the medical wire must be thin enough for use in a miniaturised device, whilst still maintaining insulation and/or lubrication properties, in addition to being biocompatible.
Alleima, formally known as Sandvik Materials Technology, supplies a broad range of ultra-fine medical wire under its Exera® brand. Utilising expertise in metallurgy, more than 200 alloys, and various customisations such as coiling and coatings, Alleima has worked with manufacturers to design and develop medical wire components for devices such as continuous glucose monitors, guidewires, and deep brain stimulation systems. As devices get smaller and smarter, Alleima keeps up with market trends through continuous R&D in metallurgy and process development, as well as making strategic acquisitions to expand its capabilities, such as galvanising and electroplating.
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