Medical electronics is one of the fastest growing segments of our industry. Almost weekly, we hear about another cool lifesaving device or piece of medical monitoring equipment. Alpharetta, Georgia-based Innovative Circuits is at the forefront of fabricating medical PCBs, both flex and rigid. I asked Innovative Business Development Manager Amir Davoud to give us a solid diagnosis of the world of medical PCBs.
Andy Shaughnessy: Amir, why don’t you start off by giving us a quick background on Innovative Circuits?
Amir Davoud: Innovative Circuits is a fabricator of multilayer rigid PCBs, rigid-flex and flex circuits. Since our inception in 1998, we have remained dedicated to pairing comprehensive engineering support with quickturn and small- to mid-level production solutions. Our clients rely on ICI’s extensive knowledge base and highly skilled technicians to assist with their most challenging projects.
Shaughnessy: Innovative Circuits serves a number of medical customers. What sort of devices do these customers create?
Davoud: Our medical clients range from the neurosciences to cardiac care. Most of the projects we work on involve external devices that are either standalone for monitoring or communicate with implants. Our customer’s products include the first FDA-approved heart failure monitoring system, modeling tools for complex brain activity, CPAP machines and flexible endoscopes. A specific area of focus for us is in robotics, specifically prosthetics. We have been involved in a number of projects that developed fully functionally partial and complete prosthesis for amputees.
Shaughnessy: How is fabricating a medical PCB different than building any other high-reliability board?
Davoud: At Innovative, high reliability is a requisite for the majority of our customers. In addition to the medical industry we service others with challenging high end needs. These include defense and aerospace, and needless to say no one wants a failure at 35,000 feet, let alone on the operating table. In order to meet the demands of our clients, we are required to make a full commitment that ensures repeatability and reliability by maintaining operational excellence. This begins with laying a solid foundation where every project receives a detailed review that includes recommendations for manufacturability, design integrity and material requirements. From there, we use highly trained technicians that guide each design through a fully traceable fabrication process. Multiple inspection points are also used during this procedure to ensure design adherence at all stages. Once completed, each board undergoes a thorough final inspection and testing process before being shipped.
Shaughnessy: I know you all do quite a bit of flex. Are the boards for medical devices primarily flex, rigid, or rigid-flex?
Davoud: We see an equal amount of each type, though there has been growth in the flex and rigid-flex segments over the past few years. This can be attributed to the increase in robotics and devices that have repetitive movement requirements. In 2016, I anticipate that we will see flexible circuitry requirements surpass rigid needs for medical devices.
To read this entire article, which appeared in the January 2016 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.