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Who Are the Most Innovative Minnesota Medtech Week Exhibitors?

Our editors have picked the 10 semifinalists for the Minnesota Medtech Week Innovation Prize. Help us narrow down the group to five finalists.

Chris Newmarker

From an affordable, professional-grade desktop 3-D printer to better coatings and materials to  highly precise welders, there are a wide array of innovations among the 10 Minnesota Medtech Week exhibitors who are semifinalists for the Minnesota Medtech Week Innovation Prize.

We'd like help from you, our readers, to help pick the five finalists. So read more about the 10 semifinalists below, and then vote in our survey.

Compounding Solutions (Booth #1257)

A Friction-Reducing Additive

Compounding Solutions in September 2014 introduced its Mobilize lubricious, friction-reducing additive, which it boasts can produce a 20-40% reduction in friction. Such reduced friction can reduce the amount of force required to insert or retract a device.

Mobilize can even allow the potential removal of FEP, PTFE, or HDPE liners during device processing, and can cut costs in half compared to traditional processes that utilize PTFE liners and hydrophilic coatings, according to the Lewiston, ME-based company.

Formlabs (Booth #311)

An Affordable Professional-Grade Desktop 3-D Printer

Formlabs--the four-year-old 3-D printer company that raised nearly $3 million in a Kickstarter campaign--is touting its new Form 2 stereolithographic 3-D printer as ideal for creating medical device prototypes. The Form 2 is a professional-grade desktop 3-D printer that costs only a few thousand dollars.

The Form 2 excels at producing intricate parts, thanks in part to its ability to use laser light to cure resin. TechCrunch referred to the Form 2 as the first refined consumer-grade SLA printer.

Heraeus Medical Components (Booth #1205)

"Printing" Complex Electronics Encapsulated in Ceramic

Heraeus Medical Components (St. Paul, MN) says its CerMet technology could enable ever tinier implantable medical devices, including biosensors. The reason is that CerMet moves way beyond the older labor-intensive methods of brazing several individual metal pins into an insulating ceramic, according to Heraeus. Instead, a multi-layered printing process creates conductive, even 3-dimensional-shaped, channels into a ceramic matrix.

"Our innovation is enabled by a novel biocompatible platinum-based CerMet paste," Heraeus says. "The paste is filled into the cavities of a ceramic sheet using a state-of-the-art printing procedure--even [3-D printing] methods could be applied. After printing, the filled sheets are stacked, laminated, and co-fired to yield a hermetically tight and highly robust compound. Finally, individual parts are singularized and are ready for integration into a housing or a ferrule."

Feedthroughs are but one example of how Cermet is a leap forward, according to Heraeus: "Imagine a feedthrough with hundreds of conductive paths in an area as small as your thumbnail. Imagine a three-dimensional feedthrough with bifurcated or angled conductive paths. Imagine a feedthrough as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen."

HiQ_MEDIALOG welding

 
(Image courtesy of Herrmann Ultrasonics)

Herrmann Ultrasonics (Booth #1650)

A Highly Precise Ultrasonic Welder

The Bartlett, IL-based ultrasonic welding machine company will be demonstrating its new HiQ MEDIALOG ultrasonic welding machine, launched in September 2015. Herrmann 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 sonotrode right before it touches the part, enabling a soft and clean weld joint.

Machine Control Specialists (Booth #826)

An Entirely Automatic Machine for Coiling Springs Around a Catheter

The "holy grail" of delivery catheter manufacturing has been to automatically wrap a spring around a catheter with proper pitch and tension--with no human intervention, according to Machine Control Specialists. The Roselle, IL-based company claims to have done exactly that with its Model 105DC direct mandrel coiler, introduced just a year ago at the 2014 MD&M Minneapolis.

To create the 105DC, Machine Control Specialists combined "point coiling" with "mandrel coiling" technologies to point coil wire directly on a liner covered mandrel. The mechatronic solution groups four servomotors, a load cell, and software to create the motions to accurately wrap the coil on the catheter. The result, according to the company, is both better quality and performance and greater efficiency. The resulting device has a better "feel" to it, at a lower cost.

ProPlate (Booth #1334)

A Radiopaque Marker Coating Innovation

Introduced late last year, ProPlate's Vizi-Band is a patent-pending metal coating process that atomically bonds directly to a catheter, guide wire, stent. It can be applied anywhere along the medical device. Says ProPlate (Anoka, MN): "Whereas traditional machined marker bands are individually installed on catheters by hand, Vizi-Band markers are coated directly to the medical device and this can be accomplished in large volumes simultaneously for maximum efficiency. Where radiopacity requirements are lower, Vizi-Band marker coating can be applied thinner than traditional marker bands are machined, which will impart a performance advantage of a lower profile while reducing material costs. Additionally the risk of dislodgement is eliminated with the utilization of Vizi-Ban."

RTP 2000 HC plastics

 
(Image courtesy of RTP Co.)

RTP Co. (Booth #844)

Thermoplastics That Stand Up Against Hospital Disinfectants

RTP Co. (Winona, MN) in May 2015 announced the development of its RTP 2000 HC series of thermoplastic compounds, which are designed to maintain strength, functionality, and integrity after repeated exposure to hospital disinfectants. Based on a proprietary alloy technology, the RTP 2000 HC plastics open up new possibilities when it comes to the design of devices such as mobile ultrasound and x-ray machines, enteral feeding devices, drug infusion pumps, blood filtration equipment, and more, according to RTP.

Sparton Corp. (Booth #1442)

Designing a Mobile Health Device for Better Kegels

Sparton Leva
 
(Image courtesy of Sparton Corp.)

The Sparton Irvine Design Center of Schaumburg, IL-based Sparton Corp. designed the Leva for Remendium Labs. The Leva is an FDA-cleared mobile health device that helps women improve the effectiveness of pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) to treat incontinence, and hopefully avoid needing medications or surgery. Sparton helped create a comfortable, discreet device with patented sensor technology that shows the exact movement of muscles as women perform Kegels. The user friendliness is increased even more with the Leva app available in Apple's App Store for iPhone or iPod.

During the development period from 2013 through 2014, Sparton provided Remendium with concept and feasibility, design and development, verification, marketing design, FDA submission, and an ISO 13485 quality system.

Sunstone Engineering (Booth #1637)

A Faster, More Affordable Welder for Tiny Medical Device Parts

Released in January 2015, Sunstone's Orion 200i2 micro TIG (pulse arc) welder is able to control a wide range of power in order to permanently fuse together metal as fine as a piece of hair or as larger as most medical tools and instruments. It utilizes argon gas and a tungsten electrode to produce a plasma arc that fuses small metal parts of all metal types together. Sunstone (Payson, UT) boasts the Orion is a much faster and affordable option compared to laser welding.

Other Orion 200i2 features include an interactive touch screen interface, a space-saving design, and monitoring features to ensure the machine produce a consistent weld every time. Different modes allow the power to release in specific ways depending on what the desired outcome is.

Zeus (Booth #1105)

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 in February 2015 at MD&M West, FluoroPEELZ's advantages include reducing scrap, improving yields and increasing worker safety--while decreasing the need for training, according to Zeus. Says the company: "Catheter construction is a delicate and costly process that leaves no room for error. The last step of removing the recovered FEP heat shrink over the outer shaft is often the most critical and laborious. One imperfection and the product goes to scrap, costing the manufacturer time and money."

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