Race cars and medical markets

Growth in the medical market seems to move ahead like a combination of two vehicle types: a bulldozer and a race car.  A recent market research study predicts that demand for more medical devices will bring nice benefits for the printed circuit board industry.

A Lux Research Inc. study finished last month predicted good things for emerging technologies in printed, flexible, and organic electronics. These fields are poised to impact the $300 billion global medical device market, serving as the base for a number of products.

“The value proposition of printed, flexible, and organic electronics varies across technologies, application, and markets. While each of the three provides its own selling point, they substantially overlap, opening up exciting new options,” said Jonathan Melnick, a research analyst at Lux.

Conductive textiles, heart rate sensors, and respiration sensors are aimed at the athletic and neonatal markets. Flexible electronics that can be worn continuously can be used to create vital-sign-monitoring athletic products. “Many of these devices will be made through the printing of organic materials,” Melnick added.

Many of these products will have very high volumes, some may even be throw-aways. But the tight regulations in medical mean that quality and reliability levels must be fairly high. These medical devices could sit on shelves a fair while before they’re put into use. Flex circuits and organic substrates will play a major role.

But the prospects for large volumes of printed electronic systems highlights once again the wisdom of IPC decision to set up its Printed Electronic Initiative. That field may not be as unstoppable as a bulldozer, but it’s looking more like the race car mode is coming up fast for printed electronics .

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