We've pruned down the entries for this year's MD&M West Innovation Prize to ten. We need your help in singling out the top six.
From a low-level light therapy for the eyes to automatic prototyping quotes to a heat shrink to simplify catheter manufacturing, there are a wide array of innovations among the 10 MD&M West exhibitors who are semifinalists for the MD&M West Innovation Prize.
We'd like help from you, our readers, to help pick the six finalists. So read more about the 10 semifinalists below, and then vote in our survey, which is also embedded at the bottom of this page.
1. GlencaTec AG (Booth #3071)
Laser Welding to Encapsulate Devices in Glass
GlencaTec (Niederwangen, Switzerland) is boasting a novel laser welding process for hermetic glass encapsulation. Says the company: "We are able to weld and therefore seal glass as an RF-transparent but biocompatible material without any additives and hermetically package electronics or other materials for a lifetime of a device." The size of the welding section is about 150 µm in height and 30 µm in width. And the low temperature, "cold" laser welding sealing method avoids harmings the encapsulated device. The laser welding process enables the use of glass as a RF-transparent, biocompatible, and absolute long time hermetic packaging without any additives.
2. Herrmann Ultrasonics (Booth #3141)
A Highly Precise Ultrasonic Welder
The Bartlett, IL-based ultrasonic welding machine company will be demonstrating its HiQ MEDIALOG ultrasonic welding machine, launched in September 2015. Herrmann, which was a Minnesota Medtech Week Innovation Prize semifinalist, describes the machine as perfect for welding tiny plastic medical technology or microelectronics parts--an important need considering the miniaturization trend taking place in medtech. With the HiQ MEDIALOG, Herrmann has been able to achieve repeatable welds with low welding forces of 5 Newton (before the lower level has always been a maximum of 20 Newton). Herrmann Ultrasonics Soft-Touch technology makes it possible to slow down the sonotroderight before it touches the part, enabling a soft and clean weld joint.
3. Marubeni Citizen Cincom (Booth #3278)
Making Laser Cutting and Machining More Efficient
Marubeni Citizen Cincom (Allendale, NJ) in 2014 developed the Laser System L2000, which allows laser cutting and conventional machining to be completed on a single machine platform. The L2000 is a 400-watt fiber optic laser that is mounted in the tooling zone of a Citizen Cincom Swiss style lathe. The laser is interfaced to the machine control and can be edited from the part program. Cutting paths, offsets, and laser settings can be edited within the part program. What were once multiple medical device manufacturing operations can be completed in a single step, creating a more efficient process.
4. Meritech (Booth #1970)
An Automatic Hand Dryer That Doesn't Spread Germs
Last year, Meritech (Golden, CO) added the Integrated Air Curtain as a potential feature to embed in its CleanTech 500EZ, 2000S, and 4000S Automated Handwashing Systems. The Integrated Air Curtain is far more than just a hand dryer. Most air dryers actually spread pathogens, distribute particulates, and move unfiltered air, according to Meritech. But the Integrated Air Curtain, which automatically starts at the end of a wash cycle on a CleanTech machine, quickly uses clean, filtered air as the last stage of every automated hand wash, speeding up the entire hygiene process in medical settings.
5. Product Creation Studio (Booth #1977)
Helping to Develop a New Age-related Macular Degeneration Device
Over the past couple of years, Product Creation Studio (Seattle) has been working with a company called LumiThera to develop a device called the LT-300 that uses low-level light therapy (also called photobiomodulation) to treat age-related macular degeneration. The LT-300, currently being used in clinical trials, delivers precisely dosed LED lights to an AMD patient's retina. The LEDs are meant to stimulate the mitochondria in the eye, potentially halting the degenerative effects of AMD and even improving the condition of the eye. Product Creation Studio and LumiThera claim the LT-300 could prove more effective than other AMD treatments such as vitamin intake and eye injections.
6. ProPlate/Professional Plating Inc. (Booth #438)
A Coating Innovation for Braided Catheters
ProPlate (Anoka, MN), which was a Minnesota Medtech Week Innovation Prize semifinalist for its Vizi-Band metal coating process, also has its Torq-Lok braided catheter coating innovation that hit the market in late 2014. Torq-Lok is a patented process that atomically bonds metal directly to each braid pic, fusing them together as one at each crossing. Preliminary testing of Torq-Lok compared to non-coated braids demonstrated a range of 30-66% greater torque response, a 66% increase in torque to failure, and a 90° twist increase, according to ProPlate. Torq-Lok enables the braid pic count to be reduced, which in turn reduces material costs and production time for the brain manufacturers.
7. Proto Labs (Booth #3415)
An Automatic Interactive Quoting System for Prototyping
Quick-turn manufacturer Proto Labs (Maple Plain, MN) will be touting its ProtoQuote--an automated interactive quoting system that had its latest software version released last year. Medical device engineers can upload their 3-D CAD model and receive free design for manufacturability analysis and real-time pricing information within hours. Proprietary software and compute clusters analyze the 3-D CAD model to generate an interactive price quote and design analysis that requires very little human interaction. ProtoQuote enables OEM engineers to make needed prototype modifications early and often. Developers can iterate, get premarket approvals, pass clinical trials, and launch products to market faster.
8. SUSE (Booth #661)
A Highly Flexible Medical Device OS
Enterprise Linux company SUSE (Cambridge, MA) is boasting that its SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 1, introduced in December, boasts innovations including an updated user interface, improved operational efficiency, and accelerated innovation through support for all recent hardware from IBM and Intel. Says SUSE: "It is an OS embedded in medical devices that allow medical devices to run constantly second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year after year. ... Our OS allows medical devices to run efficiently and securely on many different types of medical device platforms: imaging, laboratory equipment, patient monitors, etc."
9. Syneo (Booth #2213)
Fully Automating the Jacketing of Guidewires
Delivered in 2015, the Syneo Dynamic Guidewire Jacketing System fully automates the jacketing (over extrusion) of discrete guidewire lengths for the medical device industry. Syneo (West Palm Beach, FL), working together with with Gimac di Maccagnan Giorgio, a leader in Medical Microextrusion Equipment out of Castronno, Italy (the company is coexhibiting with Syneo at MD&M West at booth #2213), created a system with true closed loop motion control for ultra-precise indexing of material. Syneo claims the system, coupled with its guidewire pick and feed technology, turns a difficult, labor intensive task into a fully automated process. A user can load hundreds of nitinol or stainless-steel cores, typically with distal ends centerless ground with a fine taper, into a the input bin of the feed system. The system will pick and feed the parts continuously through the extrusion cross head. The system preheats cores prior to extrusion to promote adhesion, measures the input and output diameter of parts, precisely adjusts core velocity through the cross head to control coating thickness, cuts the parts to to separate the discrete lengths, inspects the outside diameter on 100% of the wires, and bins the material pass/fail based on laser micrometer feedback.
10. Zeus (Booth #3101)
A Heat Shrink to Simplify Catheter Manufacturing
FluoroPEELZ is a fluoropolymer heat shrink from Zeus (Orangeburg, SC) that operators can easily peel rather than cut off from the catheter shaft after the reflow heating process in which the inner layers of the catheter are combined. Launched a year ago at MD&M West, FluoroPEELZ won Zeus a spot as a Minnesota Medtech Week Innovation Prize finalist. The FluoroPEELZ technology's advantages include reducing scrap, improving yields, and increasing worker safety--while decreasing the need for training, according to Zeus. Says the company: "The last step of removing the recovered FEP heat shrink over the outer shaft is often the most critical and laborious. One imperfection caused by a cutting device to remove the traditional heat shrink and the entire assembly goes to scrap, costing the manufacturer time and money."