As is the case with many other markets where faster, highly capable technologies have resulted in more intelligent processes and products, the medical device sector is also undergoing a "smart" transformation. This has driven the development of medical devices that provide greater access to in-home care and monitoring and faster results for medical professionals, with the overarching benefit of better patient outcomes. Devices applied to the human body that continuously sense and report vital signs in real-time, moisture sensing systems that aid in patient health and comfort optimization, and skin-applied patches with timed drug measurement and release are all smart healthcare realities today. Sensor technologies that bridge the gap between standard, rigid assemblies and more flexible user interfaces are pushing the envelope toward smaller and more convenient form factors, making smart healthcare devices a mainstream reality. This paper will share details about multiple medical sensing applications and the advanced materials and processes used to assemble them for optimal functionality.
While printed electronic techniques have been utilized in the medical field for decades, recent developments of smart medical devices have seen printed electronics and sensor technologies become key enablers of modern health care advancements. The ability to manufacture devices in high volume that enable expedited detection and diagnosis, improve patient comfort, facilitate self-monitoring for better outcomes and lower overall costs to manufacturers, physicians, medical facilities and patients is all made possible by printed electronics. The functionality delivered and throughput rates available through the additive process of printing electronics will no doubt ensure its viability for the foreseeable future. Increasing product diversity and the need for form factor modifications will drive further growth of printed electronics in the medical device industry, as new methods of technology adaptation and integration continue to be developed.