Technology has facilitated the evolution of nearly every major industry within the past few decades. Today, one of the main electronic components in most medical equipment is the use of PCB, or printed circuit boards. These components act as the “brain” of any given electronic medical device.
The layout in modern PCBs is optimized for the task performed by the device. For example, most medical device PCBs are intended to be highly precise and quick. Because of the tremendous complexity of a PCB Assembly, most medical equipment companies today outsource the assembly and sometimes the layout and design to highly specialized third parties. The development of PCBs from scratch is a tedious and time consuming process, but specialized third-party manufacturers can often have PCB assembly prototypes ready within weeks.
Development of these electronic components can be traced back to the early 1900s, but it was not until the latter part of the century that they became reliable enough to implement in medical equipment. Older board assemblies were large and often did not work consistently. They had to be assembled by hand, which led to failure in most instances due to human error during assembly.
Today, with the precision of software and modern machining technology, SMTs (surface mounting technology) can build PCBs with extremely high levels of accuracy. Precision is highly sought after in the medical field where equipment malfunction can have dire consequences. These high standards of engineering during production have also helped contribute to the adoption of PCBs in medical equipment. Today, PCBs can be found in most medical devices ranging from a basic sphygmomanometer to high-tech magnetic resonance imaging devices.
Over the past two decades, the production quality of PCBs has increased while the production cost has decreased, allowing medical devices to enter the consumer space. As manufacturing qualities continue to increase, it is expected that this medical equipment will continue to make its way directly to the consumer. In the current market, wearable tech has seen a dramatic increase in sales over the past five years. In fact, estimates say that the wearable tech market will reach 10 billion dollars by 2020, with PCBs at the heart of these products.
Perhaps one of the most neglected aspects of the low cost of modern prototype PCB assembly is the ability to experiment and develop new products. Just a few years ago, a company would have to manufacture hundreds to thousands of PCBs for the process to be cost effective. Today, BESTProto can manufacture single PCBs with J-STD standards without an issue. This new space for experimentation with PCBs will be the next leap in consumer medical equipment. From customized nutrition to disease detection, the kind of PCBs that are manufactured every day will be at the heart of the modern medical diagnosis equipment that works towards saving lives and providing a better quality of life.