Medical Device Industry
In human history, every period is marked by innovations that transform society. Since 1947, when the transistor was discovered, the constant progress of electronics has transformed the world in a digital revolution. In this hyper-connected world, another kind of electronics, printed, organic and flexible electronics, with the discovery of new materials, is preparing a new revolution in the medical device industry.
Printed electronics technology for the production of components consists of materials deposited on substrates by various printing processes. The share of materials in the overall cost of manufacturing a device is about half of the cost, or even two thirds. This shows the strategic importance of materials. Expertise and mastery of production processes are also very important to break into the printed electronics market, an industry that is evolving at an impressive rate.
In order to give a dynamic to this “Printed Electronics for Health” ecosystem, PRINTUP INSTITUTE relies on industrial partners ready for mass production of medical devices. An intra-institute work club combines its expertise to actively respond to the health sector: from the idea to production, the institute is involved in project follow-up and develops partnerships with the experts needed to develop medical devices.
The stages of production in France
The process to be followed for the implementation of a project includes various stages. The POC (proof of concept), combined with the market study (commercial feasibility) and the business model (economic feasibility), establishes the feasibility of the project from three angles: commercial, economic and technical.
As soon as the needs of the hospital practitioner or health professionals are defined, the Institute and/or its partners establish the specifications and prepare the design of your product, taking into account your functional, ergonomic, economic and aesthetic requirements. In order to develop a reliable and competitive product within a controlled timeframe.
The development of electronic components
If the active layers are realized in different ways in organic electronics and in silicon electronics, the nature and the principle of realization of components by stacking successive layers are identical.
In France, the printed electronics industry AFELIM gathers the actors of all the stages of the value chain which develop electronic components such as sensors, antennas, …
. Promising opportunities for sensors printed on flexible substrates already exist in the health sector. These new applications require sensors in very large numbers and at prices that are unattainable with traditional silicon-based electronics.
. Medical patch batteries are thin, durable, highly flexible and are used for niche applications such as medical patches where their flat and compact appearance is a key factor.
. RFID antennas and complete RFID tags are already being printed in mass production.
Large corporations, SMEs and VSEs are already printing components in mass production. Many start-ups related to printed electronics are creating connected products for other sectors such as automotive or aeronautics.
IOT hardware & software integration
Today, the demand is there: the needs created by everything that revolves around the Internet of Things, “Machine to Machine”, Industry 4.0, “Cloud Computing” or “Big Data” are driving the printed electronics market. What is new is the realization of complete systems that integrate measurement, logic and energy functions.
Production in France of small or large series
After three industrial revolutions (mechanical production with coal, mass production with the arrival of electricity and automated production), the factory of the future, Industry 4.0, is coming.
As far as the medical device industry is concerned, mass production is ready in small and large series. As each product is different, assembly lines are customized to optimize the process of case assembly and wiring while following specific assembly and testing procedures.
Medical device manufacturers will turn to the printed electronics industry to develop new, flexible, convenient, less expensive and more functional connected objects. This is a win-win situation for the patient.
An environmental technology
In production, organic electronics saves the extraction of rare metals (platinum, etc.) and large quantities of water used in conventional microelectronics. Thanks to their low cost and ease of fabrication, the industry sees in organic semiconductors the possibility of producing disposable electronic devices such as RFID antennas, flexible batteries or sensors.
The reduction of material, energy and water consumption also requires a reduction of rejects and therefore a better control of the manufacturing process.
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Industrie des dispositifs médicaux
THE ADVANTAGES OF PRINTED ELECTRONIC
Organic electronics is a large area, flexible, low cost and high function electronics.
Organic or printed electronics has many advantages:
Size of the circuits: it is possible to realize electronic functions distributed on large surfaces: homogeneous luminous surfaces of several dm², sensor arrays on surfaces from dm² to m².
Nature of usable substrates: the conformability and flexibility of substrates allow us to imagine new applications and new ways of integrating electronic functions into final products with current printing processes.
Lightness and robustness: these major advantages are a consequence of the plastic substrates used. The mechanical robustness of plastic circuits is a major asset, especially for mobile applications.
Ease of fabrication and self-assembly: organic semiconductors are easier and more economical to fabricate, both in the laboratory and in the industrial phase. Chemical engineering is developing self-assembling molecules and printing techniques are already producing high yields.
These manufacturing methods are in contrast to the expensive and complex processes of inorganic technologies that require huge infrastructures (clean rooms) and very high heating temperatures.
Investments and costs are much lower than in silicon: while the investment for a silicon factory on 300mm wafers (45nm or 32nm technologies) still amounts to more than 3 billion dollars, the cost of an organic electronics factory can be estimated between 100 and 200 million dollars. Thus, if the performance of a silicon chip and an organic circuit are difficult to compare, the cost/performance ratio makes the organic option relevant for large circuits.
This technology is therefore particularly accessible to SMEs. Finally, thanks to printing tools, cycle times between design and manufacturing are very short (around one month), which meets the growing need for customization of products and applications.