Role of Custom Connectors in Medtech Device Manufacturing & Miniaturization

We’re seeing a rapid movement toward medtech miniaturization: medical devices getting smaller and smaller – while maintaining and improving interconnectivity.

Amidst this evolution of medtech products, medical device manufacturers have to create super tiny life-impacting tools, sensors, and applications that are:

  • Precise 
  • Reliable
  • Powerful 
  • Mobile 
  • Flexible
As medical device manufacturers look for ways to meet this list of demands, many resort to mediocre interconnects. They make this compromise because they believe catalog connectors:

  • Are the smallest they can find
  • Will work well enough 
  • Are more affordable than custom connectors

In reality, catalog products prohibit medtech innovation because they serve the most common device dimensions – not the dimensions or needs of your specific application. 

In this blog, we will cover: the importance of medtech miniaturization, the application of semiconductors in the medical field, and the critical role of custom connectors and medical pins to the miniaturization movement.

 

Why is it important to make medtech products smaller?

The short answer: the industry – medical experts and patients included – are looking for devices that will maintain or improve quality of life. 

For the surgeon, smaller surgical tools often means more precise and less-invasive procedures. For the patient, a smaller implant or wearable sensor means minimized frustration in an already-stressful situation.

The goal is to get the most functionality out of the smallest space, and fortunately, large circuit board assemblies no longer dictate the geometry of critical medical devices. With the right interconnect components, medical device manufacturers can create the medtech products they envision, at the dimensions they need, without sacrificing quality or interconnectivity.

 

The challenges of medtech miniaturization

Medtech miniaturization, inspired by Moore’s Law, continues to be an industry priority. However, making devices smaller presents a few challenges. Smaller devices need smaller components, which require: 

  • Thorough testing and measuring
  • Time-effective assembly 
  • Precise alignment techniques 
  • Cost-effective processes 
  • A custom connector manufacturer 

It comes down to the size of internal components, component count, and their manufacturing process. Our extremely small, patented H-Pin, for example, is produced through a cost-effective, fully-automated manufacturing process. It was custom-designed to increase performance, reduce costs, and provide trackable process controls.

 

Download the H-Pin Guide

 

The importance of custom connectors and medical pins in medtech product development

 

t033-h-pin-next-to-us-penny

 

If you develop medical devices and want to make them smaller or at least increase the functionality within the space you have, your device needs custom pins and connectors. Here’s why.

Catalog connectors aren’t small enough and lack reliability 

There is no room for error when it comes to complex, life-saving equipment or even simple diagnostic tools and instruments. Interconnects from the catalog are:

  • Prone to human error from lack of process control 
  • Too big and geometrically limiting 
  • Unreliable for the end user 
  • Risky for medical compliance and regulations 

At Plastronics, we are called upon because even the smallest catalog connectors are too large for what medtech companies need to meet miniaturization demands. 

Many medtech companies are unaware that most catalog pins and connectors are being made by different manufacturers and are simply cataloged by vendors. These interconnects are often made in different lots – on different production lines. You’re not getting the assurance of process, lot, and component control, and that means device #1 may function a lot differently than device #100.

Our question for the medtech industry: why limit your innovation to cataloged dimension or geometry when you can make your devices smaller, higher-performing, safer, and more reliable in a way that is equally cost-effective?

 

Start the Process with Us

 

Custom medical connectors go through strict process control – quickly 

Traditional manufacturing techniques are limiting and time-consuming. To feel confident in the devices you design, you need to know that mathematically and empirically your component manufacturer is making effective, consistent parts.

Nearly 40 years ago, we reinvented traditional manufacturing techniques, creating a fully-automated manufacturing process that has only gotten better – and our components smaller. Our largest connectors and pins are still smaller than anything in the catalog. By design, we have reduced the size of the component and the component count for these pins and connectors. The result is an elegant, simple design stack-up.

We’ve innovated in automating the manufacturing, assembly, and connector assembly processes. This empowered us to implement automated inspection and measurement into each manufacturing step. In other words, we’ve got eyes looking at our inter components at the stamping, before assembly, and when it comes out of assembly – even at the end, when it goes into the insertion machine. 

This fully-automated process control eliminates human error. These machines are measuring our small connectors and pins every step of the way, and they don’t get tired. This saves medtech developers time, money, and reputation.

 

4 ways custom connectors and pins fuel the miniaturization of medtech products

 

surgical-device-implant-in-foot-x-ray

 

Miniaturization is an extreme application need. Custom pins (such as our patented H-Pin) and connectors (such as high-performance flex-to-board or board-to-board connectors) can be fabricated to particular, extremely small specifications. These custom interconnects can reduce the size of the application and/or increase connectivity within any space allocated.

1. Making space within your small medical device

In one case, the smallest custom pin and/or connector can open up doors of innovation within your device. Perhaps you have fixed dimensions in a hearing aid. A custom pin – such as our T033 one-millimeter probe – strengthens connectivity, requiring fewer interconnects in the device, opening up space for more patient-first capabilities.

2. Shrinking devices for easier procedure and adoption

Small connectors and pins allow engineers and designers to shrink surgical instruments and implantable devices. As a result, certain procedures can be less invasive, and could help the body’s ability to adopt the implant. 

3.  Making wearable sensors more wearable

Wearable sensors, such as a heart rate monitor, can be cumbersome for the end user, who is likely already dealing with certain health conditions. How can a heart rate monitor manufacturer reliably improve this experience for the patient? Make the sensor so thin and light-weight, it complies to the shape of the body. With the T033 H-Pin, it’s possible to make a sensor so thin that it conforms to the body, with the thickness of a bandage or a post-it note.

4. Using high-performance slip rings for the smallest surgical robotics

If we can help make motors smaller, we can help medtech developers make control-electronics smaller. For any medtech device that needs to move, send signals, or spin, you need a high-performance slip ring that keeps the mating ring in constant contact for uninterrupted connection. We have taken slip ring technology to the ultimate – extremely small – level for surgical robots.

 

Download the T033 Fact Sheet

 

We can make your medtech products smaller, faster, better – and safer

At Plastronics, we’ve brought semiconductor test sensibility to the industry. After years of evolving into the innovative benchmark for the semiconductor market, we know how to exceed the dimensional boundaries of semiconductor fabrication and packaging. The reason: you need your medtech products to work right the first time, every time.

We understand the size, weight, power, and cost means to you and how exactly we can make your medical applications – smaller, faster, and better.

If you’re ready to talk through your medtech application needs, schedule a quick consultation. Nothing is too extreme for us. 

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