The technology trends in the medical OEM field are moving toward smaller and advanced technologies, as shown in Fig. 1. Some of those advanced technologies are revolutionary new. For example, bio sensors for human and machine interface or HMI and new, flexible electrodes are leading the way. They are among the most recent developments and promise more sophisticated medical wearable devices for health monitoring.
Medical electronics advances like these introduce perplexing, head scratching, and difficult PCB assembly and manufacturing issues, simply because they pose a great number of questions. At this stage, the role of design for experiments or DOEs steps into the spotlight to pick up the ball.
Check out our recent SMT007 article to find out more about DOEs and how they assist in resolving PCB assembly and manufacturing issues that newer, smaller technologies pose for medical wearable and portable devices.
In the meantime, here are some tips and hints that’ll help you to better understand this newly emerging area.
- A DOE is defined as a design of information gathering exercise where variation is its main characteristic. It’s performed as a fully or partially controlled set of experiments.
- New generation medical wearable devices are designed with wearable skin-like electrodes, so thin they are measured in microns and nanometers rather than mils and inches.
- These newer medical wearable devices have lots of intelligence thanks to embedded bio sensor in certain innovative formats.
- Hydrogel-associated electronics and piezo sensors are among the top technologies driving the new generation of wearable medical devices.
- Newly created materials are used for these new flexible and stretchable circuit devices. These materials have similar functionalities as the human skin has.
- These new devices can be worn for a long time for continuous and persistent HMI.
To comply with these emerging requirements, the EMS provider must have extensive and detailed experience in PCB design/layout, fabrication, and assembly/manufacturing.
Beyond those requirements, the management must be innovative and forward thinking. In some cases, DOEs demand improvising, and in most instances, the success in improvising comes about due to experience. Factors involved – with either controlled or uncontrolled variables – come from personnel experience. Successful DOEs also take into account the willingness of an EMS provider to invest in experiments of its own at their own expense and time to figure out an OEM solution to a particular and troubling issue.