A new free-to-attend medical technology trade show and conference, Med-Tech Innovation Expo, will open its doors on April 10-11, 2013, at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, UK. One area of particular interest to the medical device manufacturing community is an area of the trade show floor dedicated to medical technology and bioengineering research from the UK’s leading universities. Recent innovations are published in the following news from selected exhibitors.
UK Medical Technology Posts Record Results, Says ABHI
The UK medical technology industry has defied the continuing economic gloom to post record sales and employment, according to government figures released in December.
The new data, compiled annually by the UK government’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), show that the medical technology industry’s turnover was £16 bn in 2011, an increase of £1 billion, or 6.25%, compared with the previous year.
Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI) chief executive Peter Ellingworth (pictured) commented: “British medical technology is first and foremost a human industry; one where world class scientists have ideas to solve medical needs, engineers make these concepts a reality and people create the final products which we take to the world.”
He added: “This creates opportunities for fresh thinking and constant innovation from the drawing board to factory floor, ensuring what the industry produces continues to be valued by customers.”
The BIS statistics show that the medical technology is now the largest employer in the UK’s life science sector and the industry now directly employs 71,000 people.
The industry is described as one which is geographically diverse, with employers situated as far afield as the highlands of Scotland and Plymouth in the south west of England. Large employers are also found in traditional sites of heavy industry including Hull in the English county of Yorkshire and North Wales.
LifeScan Scotland—a member of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies—is one of the largest private employers in the highlands and islands of Scotland and is regarded as a leading medical device company and centre of excellence for those working in the field of diabetes. Over 1,000 people are employed at the company’s facility in Inverness. With a focus on future development, LifeScan is committed to “creating a world without limits for people with diabetes.” LifeScan is said to rely on outstanding research and development professionals, like those in Scotland, to realise this vision.
Another UK device manufacturer, BD, is one of the largest employers in Plymouth and one of the largest users of medical plastics. Their plant manufactures a broad range of blood collection products and systems including BD Vacutainer blood collection tubes for haematology, coagulation and special chemistries, supplying the NHS in the UK, as well as countries across Europe and around the world. The Plymouth facility employs approximately 720 people.
The medtech industry also supports a workforce across different disciplines, with R&D, engineering and manufacturing all taking place in the UK. One example of this is Eschmann, a medtech company with all aspects of its business taking place in the English county of West Sussex. Eschmann is the UK’s number one manufacturer of medical solutions in operating theatre tables and instrument decontamination (predominantly in primary care and dental environments).
In the past year the company won a significant contract to supply operating theatre equipment in Iraq, proudly helping to rebuild the Iraqi health service. Eschmann as a company says it strives to prove that a tag-line of “British-made” stands for the highest quality, yet still cost-effective, manufacturing.
Two companies celebrating a highly successful 2012 are The Binding Site and Physiological Measurement.
Despite a challenging global economic environment that continues to impact Europe and the USA, 2012 has been very successful for The Binding Site Group with increased growth and sales, particularly in the Middle East and Japan, for a company already exporting over 90% of its products. CEO of The Binding Site, Charles de Rohan, said: “2012 was a year of continued investment for future growth and expansion. We made a significant investment in new staff, both in the UK and in our overseas offices, in the areas of research, new product development and clinical education. We purchased new equipment to facilitate faster product development as well as initiating a manufacturing process review that is already yielding improved efficiencies in production.”
Physiological Measurement is an award-winning medtech company based in the English county of Shropshire that is also thriving despite the harsh economic climate. The number of staff on the payroll has doubled year-on-year since the company was founded in 2006, and all profits have been re-invested to continue growth. Jon Pither, director of Physiological Measurement commented: “PML are an example of how innovative, private companies can bring significant benefits to NHS partner organisations. We deliver a vertically integrated model of care. Our Community Diagnostics services offer patients hospital-quality care close to home and this now extends into their home with telehealth, our innovative software also and enables all their results and images to be accessed by community clinicians and those in secondary care quickly, when required.”
Renfrew Debuts New Children’s Wheelchair Design
UK product design consultancy Renfrew, in partnership with the UK’s publicly funded National Health Service (NHS), recently unveiled modular children’s wheelchair Chair 4 Life (C4L), designed to address the unmet needs of disabled children and young adults.
The C4L initiative was developed by the NHS’s National Innovation centre (NIC) in response to clear statements of clinical need from users, carers and health experts. The priority need was identified by a government report to create a specification for a wheelchair that would be easily adaptable for a growing child, improve quality and provision of equipment, promote independence and improve a child’s quality of life.
With close teamwork and engagement with users and key stakeholders, Renfrew’s inclusive design approach identified how best to address the usability problems to ensure that the chair design prioritised needs of the users and carers first, but also radically redefined possibilities for prescription, manufacture and supply.
The resultant C4L presents the concept of a compact universal, modular wheelchair system allowing wide specification to cater for the physical and social demands of a user’s life, capable of addressing the needs of at least 80% of paediatric users aged 4 to 18 years for powered wheelchairs.
Emphasis has been placed on producing a user centred design that adapts to an individual’s growing needs, with a seat and components that grow with the child, yet is compact and lightweight.
ASTM Releases New Packaging Dye Penetration Test Standard
According to independent medical device and packaging testing experts Anecto, based in Ireland, medical device companies need to be aware that a new packaging test method has been released, ASTM F1929-12 for dye penetration.
This new revision to the standard now includes three dye application methods. Method A is the injection method, as per the previous revision, method B is the edge dip method and method C is the eyedropper method. Method C requires the package to have an unsealed area beyond the outer edge of the seal.
Project manager at Anetco Noel Gibbons said: “These test methods are intended for use on packages with edge seals formed between a transparent material and a porous sheet material. They are limited to use on porous materials which can retain the dye penetrant solution and prevent it from discolouring the seal area for five seconds. This new version of the standard also clarifies the duration that the dye penetrant must be in contact with the sealed area.”
EU Electronic Labelling Reg in Force
UK-based medical device consultancy Advena have shared their monthly regulatory update with Medical Plastics News. The update is usually only available to Advena’s customers. The lead item in the update is news that the EU electronic labelling regulation came into force on March 1, 2013.
The rule allows manufacturers of certain types of medical devices and accessories to provide electronic instructions for use if they wish and lays down requirements which must be met in order for this to fulfil the requirements of the Medical Devices Directive. EU regulations are directly applicable in UK law and do not therefore need to be transposed into domestic medical device regulations to take effect.
The provision of instructions for use in an electronic form can be beneficial for certain professional users and the purpose of the regulation is to reduce the environmental burden and improve competitiveness by reducing costs whilst at the same time maintaining safety. There is even a suggestion that electronic instructions for use could improve levels of safety, given that electronic storage of information is less susceptible to loss, providing that sufficient safeguards are used.
Essex-based Anglia Ruskin University Medtech Campus Going Strong
The newly formed Anglia Ruskin University Medtech campus, the construction of which was announced in May 2012, is going strong. The campus is a partnership between the university and three local councils in Essex in south east England—Chelmsford, Harlow and Southend on Sea. The goal is for the campus to house a cluster of healthcare companies, giving them access to academic and clinical networks, a test bed population of 3 mn patients, sources of funding, and crucially, a single point of access to all the resources required to deliver the development and uptake of business ideas across the healthcare system.
Three sites are being developed across Essex, one in each council’s geographic area. As many as 120 acres of land has been identified in total to accommodate 1.7 mn sq ft of floor space.
At the recent Healthcare Innovation Expo 2013, held in London in March, the MedTech cluster launched its business services package to attract companies to set up operations at the cluster.
The organisers hope that the campus will act as a catalyst for innovation, supporting the commercial exploitation of ideas through a portfolio of services offered domestically and internationally.
Instron to Demonstrate Auto Injector Spring Simulator
US testing equipment manufacturer Instron will be demonstrating how springs for auto injector parts can simulated on its E1000 range of machinery.
SynergyHealth Offer Gamma Radiation Indicators
Of interest to manufacturers of plastic devices for which there is a chance of accidental multiple sterilisation will be UK-based sterilisation services company SynergyHealth’s gamma radiation indicators.
The products will be of interest because there have been reports of growing concern among manufacturers of single use disposable plastic devices that hospitals may accidentally re-sterilise products. Resterilisation of plastic products not intended for such can lead to degradation of polymers and substandard—and sometimes dangerous—performance.
SynergyHealth’s gamma radiation indicators change colour following gamma or e-beam sterilisation so that sterilisation operators can see whether a batch of products have been sterilised.
Midas Acquires New Haas Machining Centre
UK-headquartered reaction injection moulder Midas has published the following story on its website regarding its newly acquired Haas machining centre.
“Back in 1997 Midas purchased our first CNC machine tool, it was a 1 m Haas VF3 that was over-badged by Mikron.
Selected for its size, type, price and ease of use it was the machine that saw us enter the computer aided engineering era and as a result things changed forever at Midas. The days of multiple craft patternmakers working by hand from 2D paper drawings were numbered and we began the journey into CADCAM and unattended CNC machining. Then the door to complex machining, tight tolerances and rapid turnaround was opened to us.
Now in December 2012 we see our old VF3 leave Midas to be replaced by a Brand New Haas VF4SS.
As part of our ongoing investment plan we felt 15 years was long enough for this machine and it was time to upgrade so the addition of another high speed VF4SS seemed logical.
Our machine shop has multiple large machines ready to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, cutting any material that's necessary to achieve the tightest of deadlines.
As we look forward to seeing another shiny precision machine tool arrive we will be sad to see our first machine leave us, the last 15 years has seen many changes and much expansion happen at Midas, let's hope our new VF4SS brings us as much luck as our old VF3 has done.”
Ensinger Publishes Updated Engineering Plastics Manual
Ensinger, a Germany-headquartered manufacturer of semi-finished plastic stock shapes including rods and sheets for machining applications, has published an engineering plastics manual. Encompassing 100 pages, the manual contains what Ensinger describes as “references collating specialist knowledge from every aspect of plastics processing”.
The manual starts with an overview and direct comparison of materials based on their most important properties, modifications and fields of application. A colour-coded index links this introduction to more detailed information. In the chapters on material selection and further processing, users are provided with facts needed for the construction of components or for machining semi-finished materials. This information has been formulated in clearly arranged graphs and diagrams and is backed up by a wide selection of application examples.
Intertronics Announces Partnership With Liquidyn
UK-based supplier of adhesives and associated dispensing equipment Intertronics has announced a new partnership for 2013 with Germany’s Liquidyn, a specialist manufacturer of high precision contactless micro dispensing equipment.
Peter Swanson, MD at Intertronics, said: “The partnership with Liquidyn is a most valuable addition to our portfolio for dispensing of materials such as oils, greases, silicones, paint, flux and filled products, as well as adhesives. Once again as a company we are fulfilling the needs of our customers for high repeatability, high accuracy, high speed robotic compatible dispensing systems at reasonable cost.”
A flagship product in the Intertronics-Liquidyn deal is the P-Jet CT—a newly introduced high accuracy jetting valve for contactless dispensing of low to medium viscosity fluids at frequencies up to 280Hz. Another is the P-Dot pneumatic system for jet dispensing of dots, beads and lines of medium to high viscous chemicals (including filled materials) in droplet sizes from 0.3 mm to 5 mm diameter, and at ranges of 2 mm to 10 mm.
Intertronics say they are enthusiastic that the Liquidyn products will aid manufacturers yet again in streamlining production cycles, while enhancing quality and achieving reduced piece part costs.
Cranfield Scientists Win £50,000 of Aptamer Business Support
Scientists at UK-based Cranfield University have won up to £50,000 worth of business support from UK biotechnology company Aptamer Solutions. Aptamer Solutions works with nucleic acid aptamers, novel synthetic DNA molecules which are a key component in macromolecular drug development.
Cranfield were shortlisted for Aptamer Solutions’s feasibility and collaborative research competition and were invited to present their technology proposal at a workshop in York in December 2012.
Cranfield are designing aptamers which will specifically target compounds such as toxins that play a significant role in causing septic shock, the number one cause of mortality in intensive care patients. Medical solutions can be contaminated with endotoxins that may also be present in drinking water. Cranfield’s aptamers will be used to develop point-of-care sensors for endotoxin analysis and can also be attached to filters to remove endotoxins from water and biological samples. The aptamer will also have the potential to be used as an endotoxin neutralising drug.
Dr Sam Tothill, reader in Analytical Biochemistry said: “Winning this competition will allow my group to access this cutting edge technology and enable us to push the boundaries towards more innovative sensing technology and novel applications.”
Measure Surface Roughness with Your Smartphone
USA-based manufacturer of measurement equipment Mahr has developed an Android App which lets users measure common surface roughness parameters using their smartphones and other Android operating system devices.
The MarSurf One App interfaces via Bluetooth with a Mahr RD 18 Drive Unit and probe to measure the most popular roughness parameters, including Ra, Rz, Rmax, Rt, and Rq. Resulting profiles can be zoomed using multi-finger gestures for instant analysis, saved, converted to PDF files, synched, or emailed for display and analysis on other devices such as PCs.
“Using the MarSurf One App with your Smartphone is a very inexpensive and extremely portable way to obtain surface roughness measuring capability,” said Pat Nugent, vice president Metrology Systems for Mahr Federal.
The MarSurf One App can be downloaded from Google Play for Android. A free demo version is available for 7 days, and the full, licensed version can be purchased via the "buy button" for automatic download. Mahr says that no operator training is required as operational elements follow typical and well-known Android user interface styles. The MarSurf One App uses a standard R-profile filter and measures in accordance with DIN EN ISO 16610-21, the standard which specifies how to separate long and short wave components of a surface profile.
Tinius Olsen Introduces MP1200 Melt Flow Indexer
Yuvraj Jaipal of Tinius Olsen has written on the company’s website the following report.
“We asked our global customer base what they liked and did not like about our previous generations of melt indexers, we listened to the feedback and implemented the best of the ideas in our MP1200 series.
Tinius Olsen is proud to introduce the latest addition to its polymer testing line, the MP1200 Melt Flow Indexer/Extrusion Plastometer. The MP1200 features the latest in melt flow measurement technology and allows operators to quickly and easily set up and perform melt flow tests, according to ASTM D1238, ISO 1133-1, ISO 1133-2, D3364, and JIS K7210.
Integrated Technologies Limited Wins Major Cancer Device Order and Establishes US Subsidiary
Integrated Technologies Limited (ITL), a UK-based instrumentation design consultancy and manufacturer, has announced that it has won a major order to build, test and deliver UK-based device manufacturer Endomagnetics’ SentiMag instrument for the staging and treatment of a number of cancers.
The system is based on magnetic materials rather than radioisotopes, and comprises the SentiMag instrument and its magnetic tracer Sienna+ to locate lymph nodes involved in the spread of cancer. The order, for 35 SentiMag instruments, represents the largest so far, demonstrating a high level of success and growing demand for the system.
Established in the UK for over 35 years, ITL has built a solid reputation as the market leader in the design and manufacture of medical diagnostic and analytical instruments. Tom Cole, CEO of ITL, commented, “We support customers such as Endomagnetics throughout every stage of the concept, design, development, prototyping and manufacturing cycle. Being a relatively small company has distinct advantages when it comes to being dynamic and flexible.”
The Endomagnetics’ solution provides much-needed flexibility and control in the fight against breast cancer. Melanoma and colorectal cancer sufferers are also likely to benefit from this exciting technological advance.
In March the company announced it had registered a US subsidiary, ITL (Virginia), in November 2012.
MPA Founder Writes About UK Tax Relief on R&D Spend
UK-based MPA Group is a firm of accountants and tax consultants specialising in helping innovative companies to take full advantage of the UK’s R&D tax relief scheme.
Mike Price, founder of The MPA Group, was one of the first tax specialists to focus on R&D tax relief and the firm say it is, based on the latest data from the UK government, the fastest growing in the field.
Many business owners are unaware that they qualify for R&D tax relief and they mistakenly assume that R&D is all about technicians in lab coats with clip boards measuring things.
So far, as the scheme goes, R&D is really about product development and competitiveness.
Mike says that if a business can answer the following questions then they are likely to have a claim.
“Are you working on improvements to your products or services in order to make them more attractive to your customers? Do you meet previously unforeseen technical challenges (in a field of science) as you try to realise your improvements? Field of science is very broadly defined and will encompass most aspects of work in the plastics sector. Do you take risk and incur costs to overcome the obstacles? Is resolution of the problems not already reasonably accessible in the public domain?”
Claims are said to average over £40,000 and can be backdated two years.
Nordson EFD Claims Industry’s Fastest Piezoelectric Jet Valves
US headquartered Nordson EFD has announced that they have more than tripled the speed of their Pico series of jet dispensing systems—from 150 Hz (cycles per second) up to a reported industry-leading continuous 500 Hz, making the new and improved versions, so the company claims, the fastest piezoelectric valves available to the global manufacturing community.
“Making our proven Pico valve technology even faster is the latest demonstration of our 50 years of commitment to developing innovative dispensing technologies which help our customers build their own products better, faster and more cost-effectively,” according to Ken Forden, Nordson EFD’s vice president and general manager. “The fact that the enhanced Pico valves can run continuously at such high speed will enable manufacturers to produce much more product in much less time.”
Pico systems use piezoelectric jetting technology to apply adhesives, lubricants and other assembly fluids with exceptional speed, in amounts as small as 2 nanolitres. The company says that because Pico jet valves do not contact the substrate, they are ideal for applying precise amounts of fluid on uneven surfaces or products with small components, tight tolerances or hard-to-access areas, such as today’s mobile handsets and medical devices.
Primasil Silicone Update
UK silicone compounder and processor Primasil have invested in an automated cutting machine. Coupled with mixing silicone compound on site in the UK, this allows Primasil to compete globally for punched silicone components with material specifically formulated for your application. The news follows the announcement that Primasil is registered with the FDA.
At the recent Compamed event, Medical Plastics News learned that Primasil is able to produce silicone mouldings with a shimmer effect, which gives the silicones an attractive “reflective” appearance. Medical Plastics News understands that the effect is the result of the mould design and does not involve any additives, although Primasil have not been able to confirm this information.
LPE Presents on Rapid Prototyping and Additive Manufacturing for Device Design
At the time of going to press, Campbell Evans, sales and marketing director at Northern Ireland-based rapid prototyping bureau LPE (Laser Prototypes), was due to present a paper on the role of rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing for medical device designers at 1:30 pm on April 10.
The presentation provides both existing and future users of 3D printing technology the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their thoughts on the role rapid prototyping plays within the medical device industry.
The presentation focuses on previous projects for companies such as Brandon Medical, MR Solutions, Benedetti and Marvao Medical. Materials swatches and samples from the above mentioned prototyping projects can be viewed at Stand 10.
ML Electronics Offer 3D Moulded Interconnect Devices
UK-based manufacturer ML Electronics has written about its ability to integrate 3D moulded interconnect devices (MIDs).
3D MIDs are injection moulded thermoplastic parts with integrated electronic circuit traces. They offer a complementary technology to conventional printed circuit boards (PCBs) and are used for dental tools, insulin pens and pumps and hearing aids.
Generally, PCBs consist of conductive pathways etched from copper sheets laminated onto a flat non-conductive substrate. The way that PCBs are manufactured—ie using a flat two dimensional substrate—means that designers of electronic devices are faced with design limitations because PCBs can only be two dimensional, mainly squares and rectangles. This means that devices either have to be conventionally shaped, or the space inside intricately shaped devices is not optimised.
3D MIDs, by contrast, consist of a single moulded substrate into which the circuit of conductive pathways is integrated. Because the electronic aspect is integrated, the substrate can be moulded into interesting and unique shapes, offering space saving advantages for manufacturers.
However, the benefits don’t stop there. Medical Plastics News understands that generally, thanks to extremely tight tolerances which can be achieved, structures as small as 150 μm are possible for small quantities. For larger production runs, ie greater than 1 mn, sizes of conductor tracks and the distances between them can be as small as 300 μm.
Furthermore, conveniently shaped parts with less components make assembly cheaper and quicker while rendering the devices lighter in weight.
A report about 3D MIDs was published in the May-June edition of Medical Plastics News. Back issues are available on request.
Dyne to Present Paper on Adhesion of Plastics
Chris Lines, managing director of plasma surface treatment equipment supplier Dyne Technology, will be taking part in the two day conference at Med-Tech Innovation Expo. He will present a paper entitled Adhesion to Plastics in Medical Device Manufacture which will explain how his products can provide an alternative method for bonding, printing or coating plastics and rubber components.
The paper will cover three main areas. First, it will look at why it can sometimes be difficult to achieve good adhesion to common polymers which tend to have a low surface energy. Second, it will investigate ideal surface properties for optimum adhesion. Third, he will look at ways of improving adhesion.
Oliver-Tolas Expands Michigan Facility
Healthcare packaging manufacturer Oliver-Tolas has announced a US$1.3 mn investment at its facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. The investment includes a manufacturing area expansion, additional cleanroom installations and the modernisation and expansion of its packaging development and technology centre.
The manufacturing area expansion has added 40,000 sq ft to the existing 140,000 sq ft of production space. There are also plans to install cleanroom capabilities for pouch production at the Grand Rapids facility and its sister facility in Feasterville, Pennsylvania.
“For many years, we have been serving a specialised customer base who values sterile-grade materials produced in a cleanroom,” said Jeff Murak, VP of sales and marketing. “Now that customer base is growing to include a broad base of medical device manufacturers and we are excited to be expanding our cleanroom capabilities to meet the growing demand.”