1. Heraeus: A printable and flexible smart sensor
Heraeus (St. Paul, Minn.) is touting new printable and flexible smart sensor technology that has two major benefits: It is cost effective and medical device companies can easily add it to existing designs. In other words, there is no need to design around it.
“With this ground-breaking new sensing technology, we currently see great opportunities to add functionalities in a variety of applications such as catheters, health-monitoring wearables and robotics-assisted surgical procedures. Imagine a device with this new sensing technology providing a tactile feeling to a catheter or surgical robot,” said Stefan Schibli, sensor development program manager at Heraeus.
Heraeus officials say the sensor technology is so hassle-free because it can be put into any form and shape – and it is printable. Even better, the sensor and actually be printed or over-molded into the device – actually replacing part of its polymeric body. A manufacturer can use the same substrate as before and mix it with Heraeus’s sensor matrix to seamlessly integrate the sensor.
The smart sensor technology includes two main elements:
- An elastomer to provide the deforming function at mechanical impact, depending on the device’s application.
- Even more important is the microscopic carbon particle matrix that Heraeus developed, which provides the necessary electrical feedback for various smart-sensing functions, according to the company. A smart material with a unique pore-size distribution, the matrix’s can be purity, porosity, surface functionalization and microstructure can be adjusted by medical device designers and engineers to fine-tune its performance.
Plus, the materials used in the technology are biocompatible, so there is no need for encapsulation.