Device Development Process: Enhancing Minimally Invasive Devices

Device Development Process: Enhancing Minimally Invasive Devices

26 Nov 20195 min readMike Anderson
Fine wire and a connector manufactured by ATL Technology Fine wire and a connector manufactured by ATL Technology

The minimally invasive market is shifting toward energy-driven technology and robotics

This shift has renewed calls for an improved device development process that can overcome the modern challenges associated with bringing minimally invasive products to market.

In this post, we’ll address some of those challenges and discuss how they can be overcome by taking a slightly-different approach to device development.

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[Video] What trends are you seeing in the miniaturization of medical devices?


Challenges facing the market for energy-driven, minimally invasive devices.

Though there are a host of difficulties that engineers working within the minimally invasive market must overcome to bring their energy-driven devices to market, the three challenges that commonly cause the most impact are: shorter timelines, smaller devices, and camera technology.

Shorter timelines.

It’s no secret that the minimally invasive market is evolving at a rapid pace.

The need for medical device companies to constantly create innovative products has placed pressure on engineers to shorten the device development process in order to bring ideas to market faster.

This challenge is compounded for teams who have never worked on an energy-driven device before but have been tasked with developing one under time constraints.

Smaller devices.

As healthcare providers work to mitigate the chance of hospital-acquired infections (“HAI”), engineers are being pushed to develop smaller devices that minimize the size of surgical incisions and the overall device footprint.

With minimally invasive technology encroaching on the boundaries of modern miniaturization capabilities, making energy-driven devices smaller has become increasingly difficult—it requires knowledge of electromechanical and manufacturing constraints.

Camera technology.

Camera-based devices are being used to improve healthcare providers’ diagnostic and treatment capabilities.

Miniaturized camera technology has created a new frontier where engineers are being challenged to develop devices that provide both imaging and surgical functions.

Given the relative novelty of these devices, many teams are having to develop these products in a vacuum with little-to-no available support—something that can hamper and delay the device development process.

Thinking outside the box to overcome the challenges.

Overcoming the obstacles associated with developing an energy-driven device within the minimally invasive market requires a new approach.

With timelines getting shorter and shorter, engineers looking to accelerate the device development process may be able to do so using an effective prototyping strategy, which can enable them to collect feedback and mitigate design risk.

For the prototyping strategy to be effective, however, the device must first be designed using sound engineering principles and a scientific methodology must be used to test and iterate prototypes—simply creating new prototypes over and over again until an idea happens to work can end up being more costly and time-consuming than traditional development methods.

Some of the challenges associated with miniaturization, as mentioned above, can be by surmounted by understanding electromechanical and manufacturing constraints going into the design process.

Knowing the minimum size of tubing, wire, sensors, and connectors that can be reliably manufactured can help you ensure that you aren’t designing a device that can’t be produced.

It can also help you uncover opportunities you may not have considered before.

Finally, overcoming the challenge of integrating cameras into devices requires knowledge of the application, interconnect solution, and manufacturing process.

As mentioned above, camera-based devices are a newer technology, which means the device development best practices associated with these products are not yet well known—they’re concentrated within the small amount of organizations who have produced one of these devices.

To overcome this challenge, we recommend working with an partner who has experience bringing camera-based devices to market who can provide support and insight during the development process.

How focusing on the interconnect solution can improve your minimally invasive device development process.

Given the nature of minimally invasive devices, the interconnect system that powers the device and enables it to transmit data can often be overlooked during the device development process.

Unfortunately, this oversight can magnify the challenges mentioned above.

For example…

Creating a prototype of your device handpiece can help you gather feedback on your product design, but it will not give you a feel for how your device will actually work.

In order to do that, you would also need to prototype the connectors, wires, and cables that would enable the device to function.

As minimally invasive devices require more complex interconnect solutions to operate, the wires and connectors within the devices are becoming central constraints.

Understanding this will enable you to identify design problems that may keep your device from working properly.

For example…

For a device to function and provide accurate information, the wires within the device must meet a certain electrical requirements (e.g., impedance, resistance, capacitance, etc.).

If the wire diameter required to achieve that impedance is larger than the diameter of the device itself, you know that you will need to go back to the drawing board to find a way to make your design work.

Beyond these benefits, placing a focus on the interconnect during the device development process enables you to develop a custom solution that is perfect for your device—you won’t spend money on unnecessary components.

Additional resources.

The changing minimally invasive landscape demands a device development process that can efficiently bring energy-driven devices to market.

Developing a medical device that can meet the needs of the minimally invasive market requires knowledge of a wide variety of fields and technologies.

We recommend talking to an interconnect expert.

For more information on what it takes to develop an interconnect that will enable your minimally invasive device to reach peak performance, download our free eBook about energy-driven medical device development.