Weekly resin report: Sharp discounts materialize in spot PE, PP markets

Weekly resin report: Sharp discounts materialize in spot PE, PP markets

The resin markets and industry breathed a collective sigh of relief as Tropical Storm Barry came and went without causing any significant disruptions. It did, however, leave a trail of heightened trading activity and, to the delight of resin buyers, lower prices.

Cool Design
Image courtesy Cool Design/

Spot resin offerings were heavy and sharper discounts were seen for both polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) railcars, particularly for off-grade material, reports the PlasticsExchange (Chicago) in its weekly Market Update. Buyers welcomed the cheaper resin and took the opportunity to restock their relatively light inventories. With continued weakness in spot pricing, it would not be surprising to see an industrywide PE contract price decrease finally come through. The pending PP price increase has been fizzling out as propylene costs ease back, but a small uptick probably will still happen, according to the PlasticsExchange.

Spot PE trading continued to transact at a rapid clip, and the PlasticsExchange reports that completed volumes have already surpassed the total June tally. Its trading desk was kept busy as the buying splurge continued, all of which seemingly started when Gulf Storm Barry first became named. Despite the benign scare, heightened activity still persisted, even as spot prices softened at least a cent. Most commodity PE grades set their lowest marks in more than a decade, though low-density PE and and linear-low-density PE for injection have resisted the trend thanks to tighter supplies.

Although a $0.03/lb contract price increase is on the table for July, an official decrease seems more likely for those that did not already receive relief in June. Spot prices are just too weak and discounts are too large to justify an increase at this time, according to the PlasticsExchange, and a $0.03/lb decrease would wipe away the surprise increase that took hold in April.

PP trading was remarkably busy for the third straight week: Transacted volumes remained elevated and Generic Prime prices slid a penny, while deeper discounts were available for off grade. The burgeoning PGP monomer rally already began to unwind and currently supports just a mild increase for July. There was a good flow of fresh prime and off-grade railcars as well as packaged inventory offered in Houston, while warehoused product throughout the rest of the United States was a bit scarce. Both resellers and processors were good buyers this week, some to fill in supply gaps and others to restock inventories at seemingly favorable prices. Export demand from south of the border also began to perk up a little.

Read the full Market Update on the PlasticsExchange website.

Private Companies Will Lead the Next Wave of Space Travel

All across the world, entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson are taking their boyhood dreams of space travel and turning them into commercial space enterprises. Much of NASA’s work is now done by commercial companies. Indeed, when man heads off to the moon again over the coming decade, it will be commercial space vehicles – coordinating with NASA – that will carry the human payload.

Boeing, space travel, commercial space companies, NASA

Companies such as Boeing are developing space vehicles for private space travel. (Image source: Boeing)

NASA is all for it, since commercial enterprises take a good portion of the burden off taxpayer funding. “Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were inspired by the Apollo missions and they were frustrated that space technology petered out after that,” Loretta Hall, author of a number of books space development such as Space Pioneers: In Their Own Words, told Design News. When the manned spaceflight ended with the Apollo missions, these entrepreneurs nurtured dreams of taking the next steps. “Spaceflight didn’t progress beyond the moon like people expected it to, so these private citizens decided to do it themselves.

NASA leaders have viewed the emergence of commercial space companies as an encouraging development. “NASA views it as a positive when they have multiple technologies to choose from. In the past, they designed space equipment and choose someone to build it. Now, a lot of the raw research is going on outside NASA.”

Space Vendors Become Space OEMs

NASA has always used private companies to develop and product technology for space flight, so the aspect of private space technology is not new. “NASA has always had private companies building their equipment, usually aerospace companies already involved with military production,” said Hall. “Companies such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing were involved.”

However, in the past two decades, private companies have started to produce their own space-bound vehicle technology. “What’s new is NASA is no longer the sole customer for commercial producers,” said Hall. “Private companies are either building for themselves or building rockets for other entities. In the past, for anything related to space, NASA was the only buyer. That’s no longer true.”

The Space Passenger May Fund Space R&D

The concept of commercial space often comes from the idea that not all research and development funding has to come from taxpayers. “Commercial space is going into the technical areas of trying to utilize space resources for commercial purposes, and it’s also going in the direction of space tourism because that becomes a way to finance the more technical pursuits,” said Hall.

Even NASA plans to get into the business of commercializing space. “NASA has announced that beginning next year they’re willing to sell tickets for people to spend time on the International Space Station,” said Hall. “They see the value of commercializing space.”

A number of billionaires such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson all want to send private citizens to space. Their respective companies, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are dedicated to making space travel and space tourism more accessible. Here's how they plan to do it:


Managing Commercial Space Operations

In the past, NASA developed the program and used vendors to build to spec. In the past 15 years, commercial companies have started to develop their own technology. Now when they work with NASA, it’s under an agreement that NASA can’t disclose the technology. “NASA works cooperatively with anyone they’re trying to develop a space product,” said Hall. “Yet the commercial companies don’t want to share any proprietary technology with NASA unless they have an agreement.”

There are also restrictions on how commercial space companies can operate. For one, don’t expect any non-US conglomerates to buy up any of the commercial space companies. “There is a treaty called ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) that put restrictions on what technology American companies can share with other companies,” said Hall. “Anything they do is subject to government approval.”

Even with all of the commercial space development, NASA is still developing its own space technology. “NASA is continuing its development of space launch systems,” said Hall. “They have a rocket in development. There is question about whether it is going to be successful. There have been delays, but that’s sort of normal.”

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!


Natural Materials For Printing 3D

3D printing with materials like polymers and metal are fairly standard these days, but natural materials are still largely unexplored territory for this type of fabrication method.

Until now, thanks to researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, where a team has successfully printed using a wood-based ink in a way that mimics the ultrastructure of the natural material.

Mimicking the natural cellular architecture of wood. The printed version is at a larger scale for ease of handling and display, but the researchers are able to print at any scale. (Image Source: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology)

By creating an ink that emulates this natural cellular architecture, researchers-- led Paul Gatenholm, a professor in Chalmers’ Wallenberg Wood Science Center--have paved the way for the production of eco-friendly products derived from trees, including clothes, packaging, furniture, and even healthcare and personal-care products, he said.

“Wood ultrastructure includes several things: porosity, honeycomb structure, anisotropy, fibrils orientation, and angle and composition,” Gatenholm told Design News. “We have mimicked all of these elements and showed that we can, with 3D printing and ‘wood ink,’ create wood-like structures.”

Keeping it Real

Wood typically has had limitations when it comes to processing, mainly because of its inherent inflexibility and inability to be melted or easily reshaped. Because of this, when it’s used to make other products—such as paper or textiles—the process must destroy its underlying ultrastructure in order to successfully turn it into something else.

The process Gatenholm and his team developed keep that structure, allowing wood to remain, well, wood--while also being turned into something else--through the entire printing process, researchers said.

“We can print any green product with wood-derived materials,” Gatenholm told Design News. “This has not been done before.”

The Chalmers team in previous work already had converted wood pulp into a nanocellulose gel that could be used for 3D printing. In their current research, they take this a major step further—they interpreted and digitized the genetic code of wood so it can give instructions to the printer, researchers said.

This achievement means that researchers can precisely control the arrangement of the cellulose nanofibrils during the printing process to replicate the wood’s ultrastructure, managing the orientation and shape of natural wood to take advantage of these properties instead of stifle them, Gatenholm said.

“This is a breakthrough in manufacturing technology,” he said in a press statement. “It allows us to move beyond the limits of nature, to create new sustainable, green products. It means that those products which today are already forest-based can now be 3D printed, in a much shorter time.”

Further, using the process, engineers also can replace 3D-printed products typically made with metal and plastic with those made in wood, which is a renewable and sustainable alternative, Gatenholm added.

Researchers published a paper on their work in the journal Applied Materials Today.

Packaging Promise

Researchers envision a varied line of new products that can be custom designed using the new ink and process. To demonstrate innovations from their work, the team already developed a prototype for a novel packaging concept.

They printed honeycomb structures, with chambers in between the printed walls in which they encapsulated solid particles. Because cellulose has shown to block oxygen, researchers envision this prototype as an airtight packaging for pharmaceuticals or foods, Gatenholm said.

“I think the most important application will be tailor-made packaging on demand,” he told Design News.

Other prototype products researchers developed to demonstrate the research include healthcare products and clothing. They also believe the wood-based ink and process can be helpful for developing new products in space, which could be a good testing ground to prove the technology further, Gatenholm said.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 20 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco and New York City. In her free time she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.


Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!


DesignCon 2020 Call for Abstracts Extended

Design engineers have an extra week to finalize and submit proposals to present a paper or tutorial, plan a boot camp or Chiphead Theater session, or even organize a panel discussion. The extended deadline to complete your DesignCon 2020 Call for Abstract submission is Friday, July 26.

Submissions should be educational and informative, and avoid commercial content. Presentation opportunities include 45-minute technical sessions, which require submission of a technical paper; 75-minute panel discussions; and 3-hour tutorials. Please submit through the electronic portal.

You may also submit a proposal for a full-day Boot Camp and Expo floor Chiphead Theater sessions. Boot Camps provide an in-depth introduction to core DesignCon concepts such as Signal Integrity, Power Integrity, PCB Fabrication, and Test & Measurement. Chiphead Theater sessions provide less-technical content such as teardowns, demos, and panels presented as 45-minute sessions open to all event attendees.

Our track numbers have changed, so please check your track carefully when completing the submission form. You can review all track descriptions and sample topics on the DesignCon website.

See you for DesignCon 2020 at the end of January!


DesignCon 2020 25th anniversary LogoBy Engineers, For Engineers. Join our in-depth conference program with over 100 technical paper sessions, panels, and tutorials spanning 14 tracks. DesignCon. Jan. 28-30, 2020, in Santa Clara, CA. Learn more about the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company Informa Markets


Covestro reinventing mobility at K 2019

Covestro reinventing mobility at K 2019

The car of the future will be a multifunctional, mobile living and working space. This is the guiding principle of a new interior concept for future mobility, which Covestro will present at the K 2019 plastics trade fair. Like the smartphone, it will seamlessly accompany its user around the clock and adapt to his or her needs. The car of the future will be fully networked and seamlessly integrated into everyday life, where it will always provide the user with new experiences and the greatest possible autonomy.

"Our comprehensive concept includes developments, which may become reality in a few years, but it also includes visionary ideas for the future," explains Jochen Hardt, Global Marketing Mobility at Covestro and project manager for the new concept. "We are particularly focused on the interior design, which can be both living and working space in an autonomous vehicle, offering customized experiences to the user. Future vehicle concepts for electromobility offer car manufacturers opportunities for completely new room concepts and additionally open up a new ground for brand differentiation.”

The car of the future will be a multifunctional, mobile living and working space.

The interior is equally a matter of functionality, comfort, and design, but also of efficiency. The focus is on optically and haptically designed surfaces, the integration of ambient lighting, the latest infotainment systems, and novel seating concepts. High-tech materials from Covestro open up a kaleidoscope of new possibilities for many different components.

For example, Makrolon polycarbonates and their blends will play an important role in the interior of the future thanks to their outstanding properties. They are notable for their maximum design freedom, mechanical stability, and low weight. In addition, they provide good thermal and electrical insulation. Makrolon enables a range of glass-like surfaces and up to various functional colors. This is important for the integration of future innovative displays, sensors, cameras, and ambient lighting systems.

Maezio continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites from Covestro constitute a special class of composites. They are based on polycarbonate, but more robust and lightweight, due to reinforcement with carbon fibers, and are suitable, for example, for efficient production of particularly thin-walled parts.

Makrofol polycarbonate films are used, for example, for printed, even three-dimensional large-scale cover plates for the integration of displays. The films also serve as a carrier for printed electronics in touchscreens. The number of such display surfaces and touchscreens in car interiors will increase drastically due to the progressing digitalization and networking (connectivity) as well as the trend towards autonomous driving. The seamless integration of displays is also supported by a new generation of Makrolon AI polycarbonate materials.

Covestro also offers a range of Platilon thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) films. Among other things, they are used as hotmelt films for bonding different materials like textiles. The sustainable INSQIN technology is used for textile coating in the car interior; it is based on solvent-free, waterborne polyurethane dispersions. Its use for the manufacture of coated textiles is efficient and saves water and energy, compared to conventional production.

Polyurethane is a classic but extremely versatile material for car interiors. In the form of soft or molded foam, it creates the basis for comfortable and safe car seats. Polyurethane foams have also been used for a long time in instrument panels, upholstery, trim parts, and roof linings and provide comfort in the interior. With TPU coatings, surfaces can be created as desired – from particularly soft to hard.

Polyurethane coatings are also geared towards high-quality surfaces with adjustable properties. Covestro develops raw materials for robust and abrasion-resistant coatings, which are available in various colors and surface structures that protect underlying substrates and create a pleasant feel when touched. The company is also a pioneer in the formulation of aqueous coatings with low organic solvent content. Raw materials for polyurethane adhesives for solid and durable adhesive bonds round off the range.

At K 2016, Covestro for the first time dedicated itself to the mobility of the future on a larger scale and presented an integrated concept for the outer shell of electric cars. It was developed in close cooperation with design students from the renowned Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden and the automotive supplier HELLA. The development went beyond existing boundaries and offers new approaches for the attractive design of comfortable, functional and energy-efficient cars. The core elements are integrated sensors and antennas, holographic lighting, large-format display elements, 360-degree all-round glazing, and seamless, homogeneous surfaces.

More than 50 years ago, still under the umbrella of Bayer, Covestro presented the first car with a complete plastic body at the plastics trade fair in Düsseldorf: the K 67. Since then, the company has repeatedly overcome the limits of the possible with innovative material solutions. Later milestones included the introduction of headlamps and automotive glazing, both made of the transparent polycarbonate Makrolon. Covestro was also a pioneer in coating raw materials for waterborne automotive fillers and base coats as well as for low-solvent polyurethane clear coats.

China’s Chen Hsong sets up German subsidiary

China’s Chen Hsong sets up German subsidiary

In May 2019, Hong Kong–based injection molding machine manufacturer Chen Hsong established a German subsidiary in Kempen. Chen Hsong Germany GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chen Hsong Europe B.V. in the Netherlands, will better serve the German market as a highly competent partner and supplier of plastic injection molding machines for both standard and specialized solutions, said the company at the recent K 2019 Preview in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Chen Hsong injection molding machine

The company’s German subsidiary is headed by Managing Director Andreas Bexte, who has more than 30 years’ experience in plastic injection molding. He and his team will operate with a high degree of autonomy, providing German customers with technical-oriented solutions and personalized care, said the company.

The facility in Kempen stocks fully functional injection molding machines for demonstrations, tests and training. The 2,400-square-meter (25, 833-square-foot) warehouse in the Netherlands is stocked with many new machines to ensure rapid delivery to the German market, the company added.

Parent company Chen Hsong is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of plastic injection molding machines, with clamping forces ranging from 20 to 6,500 tons. Almost two-thirds of its machines are sold in mainland China and Hong Kong, with 7% sold in Taiwan and 28% in the rest of the world.

The company is exhibiting at K 2019 in Düsseldorf, Germany, from Oct. 16 to 23 in hall 13 at booth B 43.

Impact of DEHP plasticizer on human health back in play

 Impact of DEHP plasticizer on human health back in play

A new preclinical study on DEHP plasticizer, commonly used to make PVC and other plastics pliable, found that it has “alarming . . . significant effects” on cardiac electrophysiology.

heart rateResearchers led by a team at Children's National Health System (Washington, DC) discovered an increased risk for irregular heart rhythms after exposing intact, in vitro heart models to 30 minutes of mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP), a metabolite from di-2-ethylexyl phthalate (DEHP). This phthalate accounts for 40% of the weight of blood storage bags and up to 80% of the weight of tubes used in an intensive care setting, according to a paper in the July issue of Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology. They found that a 30-minute exposure to MEHP slowed atrioventricular conduction and increased the atrioventricular node effective refractory period. MEHP prolonged action potential duration time, enhanced action potential triangulation, increased the ventricular effective refractory period and slowed epicardial conduction velocity, which may be due to the inhibition of Nav 1.5, or sodium current, said the paper.

"We chose to study the impact of MEHP exposure on cardiac electrophysiology at concentrations that are observed in an intensive care setting, since plastic medical products are known to leach these chemicals into a patient's bloodstream," said Nikki Gillum Posnack, PhD, a principal investigator with the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children's National and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

One reason for the observed changes in the preclinical heart models, according to Posnack’s team, may be due to the structure of phthalates, which resemble hormones and can interfere with a variety of biological processes. Due to their low molecular weight, these chemicals can interact directly with ion channels, nuclear receptors and other cellular targets.

Although several studies have been conducted over the years on the impact of DEHP on human health, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated in 2002 that there was no conclusive evidence about the adverse health effects of children exposed to DEHP in a medical setting.

The new study focusing on cardiac arrhythmias is a “preliminary study performed on an ex vivo model that is largely resilient to arrhythmias," said Rafael Jaimes III, PhD, the first author of the study and a senior scientist at Children's National. "Due to the nature of the design, it was somewhat alarming that we found such significant effects. I predict that electrophysiological disturbances will be more pronounced in models that more closely resemble humans. These types of models should absolutely be studied."

"And, importantly, our results may incentivize the development and use of new products that are manufactured without phthalates," added Posnack.

Image: Trahko/Adobe Stock

Pacific Design & Manufacturing 2020 Call for Speakers Is Open

Pacific Design & Manufacturing, the nation’s largest advanced design and manufacturing conference — the one that connects you with more than 20,000 engineering peers — will return to the Anaheim Convention Center February 11-13, 2020, and the Call for Speakers in now open!

Pacific Design & Manufacturing, which is co-located with ATX and MD&M West, is geared toward serious professionals who are ready to forge business partnerships, and offers three days of in-depth, expertly curated industry immersion you won’t find anywhere else.

This is your chance to find/provide answers to current design engineering challenges — from robotics and CAD software to AI and 3D printing — while keeping up with the latest innovations reshaping the industry.

Don’t miss your chance to share your expertise during the three-day Smart Manufacturing Innovation Summit — including the latest information on robotics, IIoT, machine learning & artificial intelligence, big data, and more — and/or the three-day 3D Printing Innovation Summit — including the latest news surrounding new materials, rapid prototyping, new tools/techniques, and more! Information is presented through presentations, case studies, and panel discussions, and also include time for Q&A.

The summits will feature these topics over three full days, allowing attendees to track hop between sessions and co-located conferences as much as desired.

Click here to submit your speaking proposal now ahead of the August 30, 2019 deadline to reach thousands of engineers and executives, as well as hundreds of leading suppliers, across the advanced design and manufacturing spectrum who understand the value in working together on the industry's cutting edge.

Call for Speakers deadline is August 30, 2019. And, as always, the same rules apply — no sales pitches, please.

Questions? Email Technical Content Producer Jennifer Campbell.

R&D/Leverage touts Product Solutions Lab at K 2019

R&D/Leverage touts Product Solutions Lab at K 2019

A key focus at the R&D/Leverage Europe (Nottingham, UK) booth (B 64, hall 14) at K 2019 will be its Product Solutions Lab (PSL). Visitors to K 2019 in Düsseldorf, Germany, from Oct. 16 to 24 will be able to learn how the PSL can be used for material trials, tooling qualification and process validation for single-stage blowmolding programs.

The PSL provides a secure research and development working environment to confirm the feasibility of bottle and jar shapes, explore market evaluations and conduct short-run production runs for line, filling, labeling and capping trials.

R&D/Leverage Europe’s capabilities also include design and build of both pilot and production tooling. Its on-site injection stretch blowmolding machines allow the company to provide material/color trials and production tool qualifications. From concept to market, R&D/Leverage Europe provides complete solutions across a range of consumer products for the single-stage blowmolding industry.

R&D/Leverage services the food and beverage, home and personal care, and healthcare industries. Mold manufacturing capabilities include full mold manufacturing for PET tooling, injection blowmold tooling and injection molds, as well as unit tool development, testing, validation and training.

Medtronic and Viz.ai Look to Improve Stroke Outcomes with New Alliance

Pixabay Medtronic and Viz.ai Look to Improve Stroke Outcomes with New Alliance

A collaboration between Viz.ai and Medtronic could lead to better outcomes for stroke patients. Through the distribution agreement, San Francisco, CA-based Viz.ai would increase the reach of its artificial intelligence solution for stroke.

Viz.ai’s solution identifies suspected large vessel occlusion (LVO) strokes and automatically notify specialists. It could lead patients to get treatment by technologies like Dublin-based Medtronic’s Solitaire revascularization device.

“By combining AI software with therapy that works, that’s how we can truly improve patient outcomes,” Dr. Chris Mansi, neurosurgeon, co-founder, and CEO of Viz.ai, told MD+DI. “That’s why the partnership is so powerful.”

FDA granted a de novo clearance to Viz.ai’s solution in February of 2018. MD+DI first spoke with Mansi shortly after FDA greenlit the technology and since that time he said there has been rapid adoption of the solution.

“What we’ve seen is tremendous adoption by hospital systems,” he said. “[Eight or nine years ago] we were in a few research hospitals. Now we are in well over 200 hospitals across the U.S.”

The Viz.ai software connects to hospital computed tomography (CT) scanners and alerts stroke specialists within minutes that a suspected LVO stroke has been identified, sending the radiological images directly to their smart phones where they can be viewed.Viz.ai enables a physician to provide the patient with the treatment they need as quickly as possible.

This is so important because stroke is a serious and time-sensitive medical condition that requires emergency care and can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, and death. A stroke occurs if the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a portion of the brain is blocked. When this happens two million brain cells die every minute. It is the number-one cause of disability in the U.S. and the leading cause of death outside of the U.S.

“Most people don’t know that less than one in five patients get appropriate stroke care,” Stacey Pugh, vice president, and general manager of Medtronic’s Neurovascular business, told MD+DI. “The average person is not going to understand how dysfunctional the existing stroke healthcare system can be. It’s not like trauma where everyone gets routed and triaged the same way. The reason Medtronic is so passionate about this and the reason we believe this is the most important thing we can do for stroke care today -through this partnership, is because of that.”

Catching the AI Wave

Medtronic’s collaboration with Viz.ai continues the trend of larger medtech firms partnering with, investing, and even acquiring smaller AI-focused companies.

Seeking to booster its diabetes management portfolio, Medtronic announced in November of last year that it would acquire Nutrino, one of its frequent collaborators. The Tel Aviv, Israel -based company uses AI for nutrition-related services. The deal closed in Medtronic’s 3Q19 ending Jan. 25, 2019.

Late last year, Edwards Lifesciences dove into the AI domain through its partnership with San Francisco-based Bay Labs. The goal of the collaboration, which has multiple initiatives, is to improve the detection of heart disease.

Abbott Laboratories found a partner in Livongo, a digital health specialist. The agreement between the two calls for Livongo offering, when appropriate and prescribed, the FreeStyle Libre Pro System to its members with diabetes. Mountain View, CA-based Livongo recently filed an S-1 with the SEC in hopes to raise a $100 million through an IPO.

Other notable AI collaborations include, GE Healthcare integrating its Edison Platform with the American College of Radiology’s ACR AI-Lab. Edison allows data to be traced during the development of an algorithm and could radically simplify the ACR community’s ability to create compliant AI applications.

One of the most notable partnerships comes from Medtronic and IBM Watson Health. The two companies launched a co-developed app dubbed the Sugar.IQ smart diabetes assistant. The app was designed to simplify and improve daily diabetes management by using AI and analytic technologies from IBM Watson Health to continually analyze how an individual's glucose level responds to their food intake, insulin dosages, daily routines, and other factors.

Pugh, speaking solely on Medtronic’s involvement in the space said the company is definitely keeping an eye on AI.

"If you think of AI as a whole, it’s playing in many places across Medtronic’s portfolio,” Pugh said. “You have AI being gauged to identify which patients will best respond to therapy. You have AI being used to efficiently manage large amounts of data; that could be looked at to identify diagnoses or triggers for patients. I think when we look at the spectrum of AI, we think it’s going to change everything from who you treat and refine how we treat them. We think [AI] is going to play a very large role. So is it something we’re paying attention to? Absolutely.”