Investigative and Therapeutic Technology Trends
Advances in miniaturized interconnects and optical cabling have launched a design revolution in the medical device field, from high-precision laser surgical tools to small and portable connected healthcare devices.
Today’s modern medical therapeutic instruments are enabled by faster speeds, expanded bandwidths, fiber optics, RF microwave and mmWave, and miniaturization. These trends and technologies will help connector sales to the therapeutic equipment sector exceed $1 billion with a CAGR of 5.6% by 2026.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed 53 new therapeutics and approved 1,094 new therapeutic devices (89 ENT, 140 anesthesia, 511 plastic and general surgery, and 354 neurology) in 2020. The types of new and advanced devices included image guidance systems, cochlear implants for hearing, new monoclonal therapeutics, fiber optic lasers, and numerous connected health devices.
Therapeutic Technology Trends
Medical Lasers Expand Medical Therapeutic Device Applications
The medical industry is increasing its utilization of highly accurate and precise lasers to treat or remove tissues. Surgical lasers use a narrow beam of high-intensity light to focus very accurately on tiny areas for surgical cutting or removal of tissue with minimal blood loss. Fiber optic interconnects and cabling technologies help these devices direct light with speed and precision.
Medical lasers are used for cosmetic surgeries (to remove tattoos, scars, wrinkles, birthmarks, spider veins, or hair), refractive eye surgeries (such as LASIK vision correction), dental procedures (for endodontic/periodontic procedures, tooth whitening, and oral surgery), and general surgeries such as biopsies, tumor and cataract removals, breast surgery, plastic surgery and many other therapeutic treatments. The Top 10 medical laser companies include Alcon, Lumenis, Cynosure, Alma, Cutera, Biolase, Iridex, Bausch & Lomb, Boston Scientific, and Stryker. The medical laser market is expected to exceed $2.6 billion with a CAGR of 12.5% by 2026.
Radiall’s optical interconnect solutions for medical devices include standard interfaces (LC, ST, F-SMA), optical termini, optical connectors, and custom optical assemblies and subsystems for medical oxygen sensors, intra-aortic balloon catheters, and laser treatment devices. Radiall’s fiber interconnect solutions are based on physical contact (PC) and expanded beam (EB) technologies, including its innovative EB-LuxCis expanded beam optical connector.
Acquired by Radiall in 2019, Timbercon designs and manufactures fiber optic light pipes, high-power laser assemblies, fiber optical test equipment interconnects, cables, patch cords, probes, and scopes. Timbercon’s new expanded beam fiber optic interconnect cabling solutions often replace copper wiring to support high bandwidth, EMI resistance, and reduce ferro-magnetic content and weight.
Molex MediSpec Hybrid Circular MT Cable Assemblies and Receptacles (center and right), available from Sager Electronics, provide high-performance, mixed optical, and electrical signaling. The series offers EMI-shielded metal and lightweight connector housings, optical MT ferrule equipped with up to 24 fibers, and 2-8 copper electrical contacts.
Fujikura Laser Fiber for optical power transmission is used in medical lasers, surgical, ophthalmic equipment, and many other applications. Fujikura’s large core optical fibers are made of silica glass, offering exceptional transmission characteristics over the selected wavelength ranges and effective transmission of high energy density of laser beams, which are widely used for laser therapy, optical sensors, and spectral analyzers of weak light.
Gallagher Medical Products’ single-patient-use Laser Fiber with 272um Core and Flat Rounded Tip uses silica medical fibers for holmium and other high-power lasers for applications in urology, lithotripsy, ureteral, bladder and kidney stone therapy. Suitable for 532 nm up to 2200 nm laser wavelengths, this product uses standard SMA and F-SMA905 connectors.
Wearable Connected Health Devices
Wearable connected health devices provide a convenient way to monitor biometric data and provide treatments while giving patients the freedom of movement outside of clinical settings. Connected health wearables support pain management, respiratory therapy, diabetes treatment (continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps), remote cardiac monitoring, and drug delivery, in addition to simple health and wellness trackers. As a result, the medical industry is experiencing a digital transformation to “connected health” devices with apps. These types of devices require miniaturized signal and board level connectors, battery connectors and pads, and spring probe contacts and pads. Suppliers of precision contacts have developed innovative products to serve ongoing development in this critical market.
Smiths Interconnect’s Spring Probe technology is designed for high reliability, multicycle applications, and features acquired IDI contact technology. Smiths’ spring probes are ideal for blind mating as they self-correct for x, y, z, rotational, and angular alignment to the target. Offered in compressed heights less than 2 mm and 0.4 mm pitch, they are well suited for high density, board-to-board, battery contact, and high frequency applications.
PRECI-DIP SA is a Swiss manufacturer of highly reliable spring-loaded contacts (SLCs). PRECI-DIP has more than 300 high-speed screw-turning machines that can produce precision contacts made of various copper alloys.
Mill-Max’s new Omniball spring-loaded contacts are available in solder tail and solder cup versions with a range of termination options. The unique Omniball spring-loaded contact features a rolling ball, enabling mating in lateral, rotational, and angular alignments while providing optimal electrical, mechanical, and structural reliability.