Abbott Selling Optics Biz to J&J for $4 Billion

The deal comes as Abbott continues to move forward with its $25 billion purchase of St. Jude Medical and wrangle legally with Alere over a previously planned $6 billion merger.

Chris Newmarker

Abbott OpticsAbbott Laboratories will sell its vision care business, Abbott Medical Optics, to Johnson & Johnson for more than $4 billion, the companies said Friday. 

The $4.325 billion deal is expected to close in early 2017 pending customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. Abbott's vision care business has products for cataract surgery, laser vision correction (LASIK), and corneal care. It boasts world-class intraocular lenses used in cataract surgery. 

However, Abbott has been strategically focused on developing leadership positions in cardiovascular devices and expanding diagnostics, CEO Miles White said in a news release. Abbott is in the process of acquiring St. Jude Medical and its extensive cardiovascular device portfolio for $25 billion. It also previously planned to acquire diagnostics company Alere for about $6 billion, but has apparently gotten cold feet after Alere disclosed a federal grand jury subpoena related to a U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation. The Abbott-Alere deal is now heading into legal mediation. 

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson sees an opportunity to expand its offerings in eye care--an area that Ashley McEvoy, company group chairman for J&J's vision care companies, describes as "one of the largest, fastest growing and most underserved segments in health care today."

"With the acquisition of Abbott Medical Optics' strong and differentiated surgical ophthalmic portfolio, coupled with our world-leading Acuvue contact lens business, we will become a more broad-based leader in vision care," McEvoy said in a news release. "Importantly, with this acquisition we will enter cataract surgery--one of the most commonly performed surgeries and the number one cause of preventable blindness."

Chris Newmarker is senior editor of Qmed. Follow him on Twitter at @newmarker.

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[Image courtesy of Abbott Labs]

GE Makes a $1.4 Billion 3-D Printing Play

The digital industrial giant is acquiring two European additive manufacturing equipment makers--both of which are active in the medical device space.

Chris Newmarker

GE Arcam SLM
A custom cranio-maxillofacial implant (left) made with Arcam technology and tooth caps (right) made with SLM technology. (Images courtesy of Arcam and SLM

GE, which has a medical device operation among the world's largest, is spending $1.4 billion to acquire 3-D printing equipment makers Arcam AB (Mölndal, Sweden) and SLM Solutions Group (Lübeck, Germany).

Both companies will report to GE Aviation CEO David Joyce, who will lead 3-D printing initiatives across the entire company. The acquisition comes on top of the $1.5 billion GE has already invested in manufacturing and additive technologies since 2010.

GE officials think they can grow their new 3-D printing business to $1 billion by 2020.

"Additive manufacturing fits GE's business model to lead in technologies that leverage systems integration, material science, services and digital productivity," Joyce said in a news release.

A $68-million-a-year business with roughly 285 employees, Arcam is a metal-based additive manufacturing pioneer, credited with inventing the electron beam melting machine. It also produces advanced metal powders. Besides its site in Sweden, Arcam operates AP&C, a metal powders operation in Canada, and DiSanto Technology, a medical additive manufacturing firm located in Connecticut. Arcam's electron beam melting technology, among other things, is being used to create orthopedic implants. The Brazilian company BioArchitects won FDA clearance earlier this year for a patient-specific, titanium skull plate that is created using Arcam's technology.

SLM meanwhile has a $74-million-a-year, 260-employee business producing laser machines for metal-based additive manufacturing. SLM boasts that its systems simplify the manufacturing process for dental components including tooth caps and crowns. The company also supplies the dental sector with CoCr nickel-free metal powder.

Find out how process innovations in 3-D printing are enabling next-generation medical devices at the MD&M Minneapolis conference on September 22. Qmed readers get 20% off with promo code Qmed16.

GE's $1.4 billion investment in the 3-D printing space comes at the same time that other major medical device companies are making moves in the area. Stryker, for example,is creating a 3-D printing plant in Cork, Ireland after enjoying some success with 3-D printed ortho implants.Johnson & Johnson has forged 3-D printing partnerships with companies including Hewlett Packard, as well as Google-backed Carbonand its high-speed CLIP (Continuous Liquid Interface Production) process in which objects quickly rise out of ultra high-performance urethanes.

GE, in fact, is also interested in Carbon. GE Ventures recently joined the latest $81 million funding round for Carbon, which brought Carbon's funding total to $222 million.

Chris Newmarker is senior editor of Qmed. Follow him on Twitter at @newmarker.

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How Smart Clothing Is Made—What's Next

While many challenges have been met, imec notes that the washability of the material needs to be increased. Today, the material can be washed 10 times at about 120 degree Fahrenheit.

The team has shown that the base principle and the electronics work. Van den Brand said the next step is making printed sensors, such as electrodes that can take extremely sensitive measurements of ECG signals. The researchers also plan to integrate other types of sensors, like temperature sensors, into clothing.

While imec and the Holst Centre is focused on R&D, the technology platform is available to end users. According to Van den Brand, one of the end users is planning to launch a product based on this technology later this year. 

             

Continue on to "Olympians Love These Technologies"

[Image courtesy of IMEC & HOLST CENTRE]

Learn about "Tapping the Explosion of Offerings in Sensors" at the MD&M Minneapolis Conference, September 21-22.

How Smart Clothing Is Made—Stretchable


Stretchability is another requirement to make smart clothing wearable. According to imec, stretchability was accomplished by working with its associated lab at the University of Ghent, the Center for Microsystems Technology (CMST). Described as a technology "based on meandering structures between the electronic components," this allows electronics to stretch as much as 40% beyond their original length, imec said.

             

[Image courtesy of IMEC & HOLST CENTRE]

Learn about "Tapping the Explosion of Offerings in Sensors" at the MD&M Minneapolis Conference, September 21-22.

How Smart Clothing Is Made—Flexible

This photo shows the flexibility of the foil that incorporates both printed and integrated electronics.

             

[Image courtesy of IMEC & HOLST CENTRE]

Learn about "Tapping the Explosion of Offerings in Sensors" at the MD&M Minneapolis Conference, September 21-22.

How Smart Clothing Is Made—Integration Example


According to imec, the team showed this integration technology could be used to combine foils with traditional components for LEDs, as an example. 

             

[Image courtesy of IMEC & HOLST CENTRE]

Learn about "Tapping the Explosion of Offerings in Sensors" at the MD&M Minneapolis Conference, September 21-22.

How Smart Clothing Is Made—Integration

Aside from printed electronics, rigid components need to be used too. Here, a chip is being assembled on a circuit.

"You start with plastic foils, print on that with conductive inks, and print sensors or actuators. A microcontroller is typically assembed on it," Van den Brand said.

             

[Image courtesy of IMEC & HOLST CENTRE]

Learn about "Tapping the Explosion of Offerings in Sensors" at the MD&M Minneapolis Conference, September 21-22.

How Smart Clothing Is Made—SiF for Other Components

According to imec, system-in-foil technology was used to make sensors, organic light emitting diodes, solar cells, and passive components.

             

[Image courtesy of IMEC & HOLST CENTRE]

Learn about "Tapping the Explosion of Offerings in Sensors" at the MD&M Minneapolis Conference, September 21-22.

How Smart Clothing Is Made—Circuitry Patterns

The team works with materials from companies like DuPont, Van den Brand said. "[DuPont] develop[s] materials that inherently have better washability than normal printing materials." 

The next step in the manufacturing process requires printing of circuitry patterns, Van den Brand said. This photo shows the base circuit patterns for an electronic circuit. 

             

[Image courtesy of IMEC & HOLST CENTRE]

Learn about "Tapping the Explosion of Offerings in Sensors" at the MD&M Minneapolis Conference, September 21-22.

How Smart Clothing Is Made—Printed Electronics

These challenges are being addressed with system-in-foil technology, better known as "printed electronics." This technology is already being used in ECG monitoring devices worn as patches on the body, Van den Brand pointed out. "It is already used for medical devices, so that's a strong argument for also trying to use it here," he said.

In order to protect the electronics, "We laminate a very thin rubbery material on both sides of the electronics," Van den Brand said. "That doesn't influence the mechanical properties, but it does protect the electronics from moisture entering directly on the circuit."

This starts with a thin, rubbery material--with a thickness of 25-micrometers--as a base substrate.

             

[Image courtesy of IMEC & HOLST CENTRE]

Learn about "Tapping the Explosion of Offerings in Sensors" at the MD&M Minneapolis Conference, September 21-22.