• Wanna Know How to 3-D Print an Ear?

    If you’re interested in learning how 3-D printing could change the face of medicine, here’s an informative video concentrating on the work of Lawrence Bonassar, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) To create body parts such as ears, he has developed a process that utilizes a 3-D printer and ‘ink’ composed of living cells. The end product, he affirms, resembles real human cartilage. “The implants that we are making are not rubber or plastic,” he says...
  • How an Engineer Made a Life-Saving Cardiovascular Device for Himself

    British boiler engineer Tal Golesworthy has created an implantable device to fix a pumping problem with his heart.He was even able to convince doctors that the device could be effective at addressing connective tissue defects caused by Marfan syndrome, an inherited disease linked to cardiovascular problems.Nine years ago, Golesworthy developed a device to treat the aortic complications stemming from the disease. He found inspiration in his back yard: He observed that a garden hose that had...
  • How a Thermoplastic Beat Out Metal in a Laparoscopic Retractor

    When medical device startup NovaTract Surgical Inc. (Madison, CT) set out to manufacture a disposable laparoscopic retraction system used to visualize and manipulate organs in various surgical applications, it could have formed some of the components out of metal. Instead, it opted for Ixef PARA, a 50% glass-filled grade of polyarylamide thermoplastic offered by Solvay Specialty Polymers (Alpharetta, GA).Solvay Specialty Polymers' Ixef PARA polyarylamide material replaces the use of metal in...
  • The Design Flaw Behind J&J's $2.5-Billion Artificial-Hip Settlement

    Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy unit stands to pay at least $2.5 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits related to its metal-on-metal hip implants in a recent proposed settlement. In total, the company would shell out $250,000 per individual to roughly 8000 patients in the United States. On top of that, J&J would establish a fund valued at nearly $500 million to cover medical injuries ranging from artificial-hip replacement procedures to heart attacks.Earlier in the year, an internal...
  • How Gel Can Prevent Orthopedic Implant Infections

    Preventing infections is a major cause of implant failure, and a focus for orthopedic device manufacturers. One of the most promising solutions involves hydrogels, the same type of material used to make soft contact lenses.The Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, is a pioneer in the area, with patented technology for a hydrogel coating for implants.Matthew Libera, a chemical engineering and material science professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, is part of a...
  • Medical Devices Cluster Gains Strength in California's Wine Country

    Northern California is economically best known for Silicon Valley, which could become a medical devices valley if the industry continues to concentrate more on communications-related medical technology innovations.But a medtech cluster has also been growing in the North Bay—in wine country, where Minnesota-based device giant Medtronic is one of Sonoma County’s largest employers and where several former employees from Medtronic and other companies have started their own businesses.One such...
  • Mobile Apps Designed for Heart Patients and Expectant Mothers

    The Quantified Self movement promises better living through self-tracking. Up until now, however, the bulk of the market has been largely comprised of devices that are glorified pedometers, such as the Fitbit, which tend to monitor activity levels rather than health metrics. The number of applications in this space is expanding, and a growing number are veering into medical territory.The Latitude concept app pulls data from patients' ICD to help them monitor their cardiac and general health....
  • Upping the Game on Mind-Controlled Robotics

    Think brain control of one robotic arm is neat? Try controlling two arms at once. That is one of the tantalizing possibilities raised in recent Duke University research that involved enabling monkeys to control the movement of both arms on an avatar using just their brain activity.The findings, published Nov. 6 in the journal Science Translational Medicine, advance efforts to develop bilateral movement in brain-controlled prosthetic devices for severely paralyzed patients.It also...
  • Graphene Breakthrough Could Be a Boon to Flexible Electronics

    There are scores of medical potential applications for flexible electronics: body-worn monitors that monitor vital signs to bendable implantable cardiac sensors. Flexible electronics pioneer MC10 (Cambridge, MA) makes use of silicon that is thin enough to maintain some flexibility.Future advances in the field of flexible electronics could come from graphene, which is bendable and has been used instead of silicon to break electronic speed records.Researchers at the University of Texas in Austin...
  • Latest Fitbit Device Steps into Smartwatch Territory

    Competition has become fierce in the emerging fitness tracking market, with most companies in this space continually iterating new versions of their devices, which are essentially glorified pedometers. The pace of development in the sector mirrors that of the general tech sector, which debut new products annually or occasionally at a faster clip. Many of the advances in the field target usability, design, and new product features.While the rate of technological evolution is brisk, the products...
  • 3-D Printing: How Riboflavin Can Be Used to Fabricate Implantable Medical Devices

    By Bob Michaels, Senior Technical EditorSlowly but surely, 3-D printing is wending its way into the medical device sphere. From blood vessels and kidneys to tissue scaffolds and drug-delivery vehicles, many medical devices could eventually be fabricated using 3-D printing techniques.Engineered tissue scaffolds are among the many medical devices that can be created using 3-D printing. Photo courtesy of Regenerative Medicine 8, no. 6 (2013), 725–738.One such method, known as two-photon...
  • Mechanic Develops Medical Device that Could Save Millions of Lives

    An invention from Argentine car mechanic Jorge Odón could prevent complications or infant death during childbirth. The device was inspired by a YouTube video, which shows how to extract a cork that has pushed to the bottom of a wine bottle using a plastic bag: the bottom of the bag is inserted into the spout of the bottle, which is then inverted, so the cork is positioned near the spout. The bag is inflated and then pulled, which yanks the cork out. In a dream, Odón had the idea to use a...
  • Nanotechnology Tapped For Blood Glucose Breathalyzers

    Western New England University researchers have turned to nanometer-thick films and polymers to create a breathalyzer to detect blood-glucose levels in the breath of diabetics.Researchers unveiled the technology this week at the 2013 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Antonio, TX.The news comes months after University of Pittsburgh announced a new breathalyzer."The breathalyzer we currently have is about the size of a book,...
  • Medtronic Exec: How to Move Past Compliance to Quality

    The medical device industry has had a tough time recently when it comes to its reputation for addressing defects.Analyst and strategic advisory firm Axendia recently found that device compans are too much in “firefighting” mode over defects and only pay lip service to process improvement initiatives.Medical device giant Medtronic has not been immune when it comes to run-ins with regulators. FDA regulators in September hit Medtronic with a warning letter over issues associated...
  • Tackling the Big Data Issue Behind Connected Health

    Want to know where the innovation in medical devices is right now? Odds are, it is centered on so-called connected health, mobile data collection and other tools that allow patients to receive care on the go, outside the traditional doctor’s office.That was a theme consistently heard during chats with experts at last week’s MD&M Minneapolis. However, the numbers crunching behind the “big data” needed to make connected health work will require quite a bit of computing power, and that is...
  • Improved Brain Stimulation Device Powered by Metamaterials

    University of Michigan engineers recently used a so-called metamaterial to construct a magnetic array able to provide finer and deeper brain stimulation than previously possible. The prototype, recently announced by the university, could potentially lead to transcranial magnetic stimulation coils that are more effective at treating depression or exploring the workings of the human brain. It also represents another example of the promise metamaterials hold when it comes to medical...
  • Why Tiny Electronics Are Having a Huge Impact on Medical Technology

    Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are already used for an array of applications in medical devices, many of them related to sensing, diagnostics, micro-fluidics and drug delivery. This is just scratching the surface of what is possible. Potential breakthroughs on the horizon include the use of silicon microneedles, which could be used to treat diabetes and implantable MEMS sensors that could track everything from cardiac function to cranial pressure.Chris Folk will be speaking on MEMS and...
  • How the FDA and Device Industry Can Collaborate to Spur Innovation

    Dale WahlstromEver heard of the FDA’s Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories? Not many medical device designers and experts raised their hands when Dale Wahlstrom of LifeScience Alley asked that question during his keynote address at MD&M Minneapolis.It turns out that this little-understood office corrals academics and private researchers to reproduce the research provided by medical device companies to make sense over which company is right and which is wrong.“They have a test, and...
  • Medical Device Tubing: Polymer Solution Casting vs. Extrusion

    While countless tubes are extruded or injection molded each year, these manufacturing techniques are neither the most optimal nor the most cost-effective methods available to medical device manufacturers. At least that’s the word from Avalon Laboratories (Rancho Dominguez, CA), whose polymer solution casting technology can be used to manufacture flexible plastic components without resorting to conventional extrusion or injection-molding processes.A coil-reinforced catheter with introducer is...
  • How Medtronic Made a Supplier a Better Partner

    Medtronic product development teams in recent years were grappling with the fact that they knew they could improve their system for freezing tissue inside the heart to treat abnormal heart beat. But the supplier for the refrigerant spraying technology inside the catheter balloon had run out of options to improve it.“When you’ve already reached to the limit of the technologies it became challenging,” says said Dan Wittenberger, senior principal and R&D engineer at Medtronic CryoCath in...