The application of PCB in the medical industry

Innovative technologies that continue to innovate in the medical industry, which are reshaping many aspects of health and medicine. From AI-based displays to implantable devices, medical technology has received a large number of patent applications in the past 20 years or so. The industry not shows any signs of slowing down, and the latest innovations can help cope with several challenges such as population aging and long-term disease management.
 

We are increasingly seeing the capabilities of new medical technologies pushing the limits of design and manufacturing processes. As devices become smaller and smaller (with enhanced functions at the same time), so must the electronic components. Due to the advancement of technology, it is now possible to produce smaller, denser, more reliable, and more powerful printed circuit board designs than before. In the past, most parts were designed using through-hole technology (THT), and the pins of the parts were rarely found. The spacing is less than 0.1 inches. Now, it is difficult to find parts that only use THT and have such far apart pins. For example, components such as micro-BGAs use previously unheard of pin-to-pin pitch.

 

Looking to the future, 3D printing will further develop PCB by allowing the substrate to be printed layer by layer before adding liquid ink with electronic functions on the top. As a result of these advancements, medical PCB design has begun to play an increasingly important role in the field of medical care in the fields of diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. For a long time, PCBs have been used in medical imaging systems such as CT, CAT, and ultrasound scanners, as well as computers for compiling and analyzing images. Similarly, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose monitoring devices all rely on electronic components such as PCBs to obtain accurate readings.
 
Now, we are also seeing PCBs being implanted or ingested in more and more internal medical devices (such as pacemakers, complex neuroprostheses, and gastrointestinal system tracking devices). For example, a pill-sized PCB camera consisting of an image sensor, aperture, and lens can be mounted on the board. The patient can then swallow these ingredients to capture digital images and videos of the digestive tract.
 
Medical PCBs must pay special attention to reliability when designing and developing these , because failures may be critical to patient health. In many cases, PCBs must meet strict hygiene standards, especially those used for implants. Various additional steps (such as copper plating, surface metallization, and ink application) can help produce reliable and repeatable boards. By shortening the circuit path, embedded components can often also improve the performance of high-speed circuits in the PCB.
 
In order to further reduce the scale of medical technology, we have also see the trend of flexible electronic products. These next-generation components are essential for creating complex devices that can fit into smaller physical spaces, such as those deployed in the human body. Most devices achieve flexibility by patterning metals and semiconductors into bendable structures or using ductile materials such as conductive polymers. Transistors and integrated circuits can also be made from threads and used in conjunction with thread-based sensors to create fully flexible multiplexing devices. These "soft electronic products" can then be woven into fabric and worn on the skin, or (theoretically) implanted into the skin, heart or even brain tissue through surgery.
 
Fully flexible electronic devices can achieve a wide range of applications without affecting functionality. For example, electronic medical tattoos and adhesive sensors can check vital signs and easily transmit the results via Bluetooth. Similarly, smart contact lenses can be filled with thousands of biosensors, and are carefully designed to obtain early indicators of diseases such as cancer and other diseases. Wearable PCB devices (which can measure anything from people's pulse and heart rate variability to their blood pressure and breathing rate) are also making full use of soft electronics. These types of technologies have been helpful in diagnosis, allowing patients and medical practitioners to monitor the condition for long periods of time without the need for periodic testing.


What is the future prospect of electronic products in MedTech? About 150 years ago, people often died from diseases that can be easily treated (and prevented) today. However, the emergence of modern medicine has effectively doubled the average human life span from 40 years to 80 years in more than a century. These are all thanks to the latest developments in electronic technology, and we are likely to see technologies in the medical field continue to extend our lifespan. After all, robotic prostheses are already in use, and robotic organs are currently being developed, such as artificial pancreas for automatic drug delivery to control diabetes.