• 3-D Printing Revolution Expands to Batteries

    The 3-D printing process has more potential than ever to transform medical device manufacturing, now that researchers have figured out how to 3-D print miniature batteries.Researchers based at Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created and tested materials, or “inks,” able to function as electrochemically active materials. The materials also had to harden into layers in just the right way so they could be stacked up in layers during the 3-D printing—...
  • Apple's Latest Acquisition Could Be Medtech Game Changer

    Recently acquired 3-D sensing technology could make computing giant Apple an even more disruptive force when it comes to healthcare technology.Purchased by Apple for a reported $350 million, PrimeSense has technology that can capture the nuances of a 3-D environment, and is so accurate that it can detect the pulse of people positioned in front of it.The motion sensor company is best known for its work with Microsoft in developing the Kinect system, which enables users to control the gaming...
  • 2-D Tin Could Be Next Transformative Supermaterial

    Graphene, the most buzz-worthy supermaterial of the past decade, may have some new competition.Physicists at Stanford University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory think there is potential to produce a material known as "stanene" that might operate at 100% efficiency at room temperature. This essentially means that the material could avoid converting any energy to heat.In the Physical Review Letters, the researchers explain...
  • Getting Designers and Clinicians to Work Together on Medical Devices

    Medical device engineers at Cincinnati-based Kaleidoscope have been living the dream for the past year through a partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.Developers have occupied space amid the offices of the roughly 22 pediatric surgeons at Children’s, collaborating closely with the doctors and others at the hospital to come up with device ideas and create them.The initial focus has been with pediatric surgeons, but will soon spread to other groups at the hospital....
  • Glasses That Let Nurses Get Under Your Skin

    A Silicon Valley company called Evena Medical is betting that smart glasses will help nurses when it comes to the classic problem of finding a vein in an obese or elderly patient’s arm.A nurse can put on Evena’s Eyes-On Glasses System and clearly see the veins underneath the skin. The recently unveiled glasses are but another example of “smart glasses” such as Google Glass potentially changing the way health practitioners perform their jobs.The next question is whether the hospital...
  • How a Nanotechnology Platform Could Let Diabetics Skip Insulin Injections

    A small ultrasound device could painlessly deliver insulin, potentially giving type-1 diabetics an alternative to giving themselves several insulin injections daily. Developed by researchers at NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill, the technology uses nanoparticles made from poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid that contain insulin within them.The scientists coaxed the particles to form a “nano-network” that helps control the release of insulin. They accomplished this feat by coating a portion of the...
  • 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...