Rising Demand for X-Ray and Other Diagnostic Devices

As technology advances, it tends to get smaller and more portable. More efficient designs also mean that prices frequently come down over the years, improving accessibility. In the medical field, this is the case with modern diagnostic equipment.

As the cost to see a doctor continues to rise, greater attention has been drawn to portable, at-home diagnostic devices. As an example, smart watches and fitness trackers are often used to track heart rate, sleep habits, and sometimes even blood pressure. These vital signs can then be monitored and sent to a patient’s doctor for review.

Additional portable devices can check things like glucose levels, infections and diseases, cholesterol, and more. Having the ability to check for these health markers at home, or even in a smaller clinic provides a considerable cost and time saving over going to the hospital or scheduling a doctor’s appointment for each test.

These portable diagnostic devices also make it easier to provide care to populations in rural or less developed areas. If the nearest hospital is hundreds of miles away, there is a major benefit to having this type of equipment on-hand nearby. Even if a hospital stay is needed, knowing what problem is ahead of time can improve patient outcomes by cutting down on the time needed to find a diagnosis.

Even X-ray equipment is advancing with more portable options to keep up with growing demand. For patients with limited mobility, portable X-ray devices can be brought to the bed-side for quick and easy imaging. Similarly, CT scans, which offer a more detailed internal view of the body, are also becoming more portable to allow for more convenient use.

As the aging population continues to grow and incidences of chronic illness continue to rise, these types of imaging technology are evolving to meet the changing needs.

Techprint is an experienced engineering firm with experience designing high-tech equipment in the medical space. We’ve been seeing more interest from healthcare related companies, and are happy to help bring new concepts to life. Request information to see how we can help you with your projects.

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New Football Helmet Technology Aims to Improve Player Safety

Whether you’ve been watching football every Sunday this season or not, you know that injuries are a frequent occurrence for players. Some injuries, however, are longer-lasting than others. Traumatic brain injuries have been gaining attention for years as the effects of repeated concussions become recognized. Since concussions can happen at any time during youth, high school, and college, it’s critical to prevent and monitor them at all stages.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is the medical term for what happens to the brain after it’s been exposed to significant trauma over time. It is a degenerative disease that causes the death of brain cells. Some of the earliest symptoms are mood and behavioral changes, but it will later worsen to include memory loss, cognitive problems, and dementia.

Because football players are at a high risk for brain injury, researchers have been working to come up with a solution. The top football helmet manufacturers have been working on updates to prevent and diagnose player concussions. While prevention is ideal, early diagnosis is key to reducing further damage. Riddell is one major brand that has released new football helmets designed to protect against head injuries.

Riddell is among the most popular helmet manufacturers in the US. Their new Riddell InSite Impact Response System utilizes sensors in the helmet to monitor impacts. When significant impacts are found, an alert is sent to the athletic trainer or coach to let them know. The data is also uploaded to a team database for further tracking.

The company also produces custom-fit football helmets using 3-D scanning technology to provide the exact amount of cushioning in the best locations for each player. The tailored approach provides added protection designed for each person.

As a flexible electronics manufacturer, Techprint works with helmet designers to come up with sensors that can be incorporated into sports equipment. Our aim is always safety, so being able to contribute to the next generation of helmets is a responsibility we’re proud of.

To learn more about our capabilities and how we can help design safer football helmets and concussion monitoring technologies, call 1-800-225-2538. You can also request information online.

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Unique Applications for Wearable Health Sensors

When most people think about wearable electronics, the first  image that comes to mind is the smartwatch on their wrist. In reality, there are many highly advanced sensors that are being created in the healthcare sector. They keep track of much more than the number of steps you take, and can provide life-saving data to help doctors assess patient health.

Wearables in Healthcare

There are many applications for wearable sensors, including monitoring neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. These sensors provide clinical grade data from patients regardless of whether they are in a medical office or taking care of errands at home. This can be extremely useful since symptoms may come and go throughout the day, and won’t always be obvious at a doctor’s visit.

Another type of wearable sensor is the UV patch which can monitor sun exposure. The user puts on a slim patch that measures how much UV exposure they’re getting from the sun. Considering most people don’t put on enough sunscreen and many forget to reapply it often enough, this patch can be a great tool for anyone who loves the sun but is concerned about rising skin cancer rates. This can be especially useful as the seasons change, since people are still spending time outdoors but may be less worried about sun exposure in the cooler temperatures.

Sensors in Professional Settings

Wearable sensors have also entered the workplace. Now companies can effectively monitor their workforce and identify risks from poor ergonomics or repetitive movements. If workers are improperly lifting heavy items, or straining regularly throughout the day, it can result in injuries. By tracking worker movement, employers can see where improvement is needed and provide necessary training. This can improve safety and productivity while reducing costs and downtime.

The sports industry has also caught on to this technology and has been using wearable sensors. Riddell, long known for their football sports equipment, is using sensors inside of helmets to determine the impact of hits to a player’s body. To date, Riddell has monitored over two million hits to players. This data can be used to monitor issues such as concussions.

If you have an idea for a new way to use diagnostic sensors, we invite you to get in touch via email at info@techprintinc.com to see how we can help. Techprint’s design and manufacturing capabilities support many custom wearable applications.

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Unexpected Benefits of Customer Audits

Having recently undergone a two-day audit with a major medical device manufacturer, we understand the stresses associated with the process. However, getting requests for customer audits is actually a major benefit for manufacturers. Here we’ve laid out a few reasons why.

Ensures the Meeting of Standards

An audit, whether it applies to an entire organization or a specific product, process, or system, can be conducted to prove that a company complies with any relevant standards. For example, a customer may suggest or require that a provider undergoes an audit to ensure it meets particular safety guidelines. There also may be requirements by federal agencies for audits, whether it be for documents, risk, or performance.

Techprint has seen an increase in auditing lately due to the FDA crackdown on supplier controls and evaluating suppliers in high-risk sectors. As a printed electronics manufacturer for MedTech and other industries, Techprint has undergone several customer audits. We understand this process helps to create a safer environment for workers, management, and clients. Companies receiving the audit receive valuable information on risks, efficiency, quality, and economy, and it ensures legal compliance.

Leads to Improvements

In some cases, a client may suggest a provider be audited to confirm they meet certain system certifications, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001. Sometimes customer audits can uncover risks or ways that an organization is not performing optimally. In this case, a follow-up audit may be requested to prove that preventative activities were undertaken as a result of finding performance problems that were identified earlier.

Additional Advantages

Customer audits have an added benefit of showing interest in an organization’s products or services. When smaller manufacturers receive audit requests from larger companies, it shows that you are seen as a trusted resource. It also provides potential opportunities for growth. By complying with requirements, there’s a chance to learn more about world-class quality systems that can be implemented for further improvement. There’s a give-and-take relationship between both sides that allows for growth and greater access to  different quality management systems.

Thus, audits not only serve to prove a company’s compliance with standards, but also help identify areas for improvement that may not have been obvious before.

In addition to inviting customer audits, Techprint has achieved a number of industry certifications to further our commitment to quality. Learn about our industry certifications.

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Finding a Single Source Keyboard Design, Engineering, and Prototyping Partner

Developing a new keyboard product involves many different steps. Once a basic concept has been outlined, you’ll need to come up with a realistic design, taking into account things like functionality, ergonomics, back-lighting, key-feel, and other user experience factors. The goal is to design a product that does what you want it to, and is practical enough to develop.

Control Panel Keyboard

Keyboard Design and Engineering

Next will come the engineering stage, where designs are refined. If certain materials won’t meet the necessary requirements for your keyboard or other electronic device, an engineer will be able to come up with better alternatives. They may also come up with a better design that’s easier and cheaper to produce.

After going through a few iterations, it’ll be time to prototype the product. This involves taking your idea from paper (or CAD drawing, more likely), and making 3-D models and/or working samples.

Finding a manufacturing partner that can walk you through all stages of development, from design and engineering to prototyping, will cut down a lot of time during the process. Techprint’s team of engineers offers turnkey solutions for keyboards, printed circuit boards, elastomer design, cabling, electromechanical components, and much more.

Our team of experts will work with you to create the best iteration of your product, including remodeling, prototyping, and re-engineering as necessary. We can even take care of the procurement side of things to keep the process as simple as possible. Techprint can work as your manufacturing partner to support the full manufacturing lifecycle of your product.

Our processes are certified to ISO 9001, UL, CSA, IPC, ESD, ITAR and RoHS Compliant standards, so you can be assured of product reliability.

To learn more about or capabilities and discuss your product requirements, feel free to request information online. We’d be happy to take a look at your project and come up with a solution that works for you.

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Techprint Welcome’s Congresswoman Niki Tsongas

techprint

At Techprint we recently had the opportunity to welcome Congresswoman Niki Tsongas to our facility for a visit and tour. The U.S. Congresswoman for Massachusetts’s 3rd congressional district was visiting as a part of National Small Business week. Along with celebrating this national event the purpose of this visit was to continue her effort to engage local businesses in her district and learn more about them.

What is National Small Business Week?

National Small Business Week is a yearly event to recognize the contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. As a large portion of the American population either works for or owns a small business, it is vital to understand their importance and accomplishments.  Each year the President of the United States also issues a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week in an effort to bring attention to the importance of small business. Events and awards are given out around the country to honor these businesses and the people who make positive contributions to the economy.

Congresswoman Tsongas took the time to visit the Techprint facility in recognition of National Small Business Week.  During the visit the Techprint staff took the Congresswoman on a tour and provided her with a basic overview of the business.  As a manufacturer of specialty graphics and printed electronic products, this was a great opportunity to show off the importance of these products. Our meeting with her also allowed us to discuss some of the challenges we face as a small business that is looking to be successful in a challenging marketplace, and also the responsibility we have as our own economic ecosystem that is supporting our employees and by extension the local economy around us.

Everybody at Techprint would like to thank Congresswoman Tsongas for taking the time to visit us and discuss the challenges we face as a small business.

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The Manufacturing of Force Sensor Resistors

One of the breakthroughs of modern technology, Force Sensor Resistors or FSRs are used in many applications. From keyboards to musical instruments to portable devices in which the output has to be calibrated and produced according to the applied pressure, without FSRs many of the dynamic interactions that we have with our technology units would not exist.

How Do Force Sensor Resistors Work? 

The FSR produces a variable electrical output as force and pressure are applied. It can do this in two ways. One method relies on the printed ink layer compressing, and changing conductivity as force and pressure are applied. The active layer in this design is a low conductivity printed polymer ink, applied in different thicknesses, or in varying patterns to produce the desired result. A second approach is similar to a membrane switch construction, where a highly conductive layer mates with a less conductive one.  As the two surfaces meet, varying amounts of surface area make contact with each other in relation to the force applied.

General Construction:

–          A base substrate layer-usually 75-175 microns.

–          A printed conducting layer-can be minimally or highly conductive.

–          An adhesive/bonding layer-can be full or zoned, depending on sensor design.

–          A top substrate layer- usually 75-175 microns.

The construction described above produces variable resistance values which in turn are used to trigger different response to the receiving electronics. This capability allows design and electrical engineers to create more sophisticated, intuitive, and responsive systems for monitoring, alerting, or protecting the user or the equipment it controls.

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Techprint is an ISO 9001 certified market leader that brings only the best to its customers. We have made a name for ourselves manufacturing products as per custom requirements. To this end we have acquired considerable prowess in the sector of manufacturing top notch FSRs, testing them in house for faults and performance and then using them in keyboards and membrane switches for a tactile experience that is unparalleled.

Contact us here to learn more about our FSR capabilities, and all of the services we offer.  Be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest company news and information.

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TechPrint Helps the Growing Wearable Medical Devices Market

In 2014, the wearable medical devices market took in around $2.7 billion dollars and is expected to grow in large proportions by the year 2023. Estimates are suggesting the market will reach $10 billion dollars by that year globally.

medical wearable

Although there are numerous devices that are manufactured in this market, the largest growth rate is found in heart rate monitors and many of the devices are used for home health care. Two of the main reasons the wearable medical devices market is expected to grow is because of the latest in innovation and the many people who use these devices. Although some devices can be prescribed by doctors, many people who take their health seriously use them in an effort to better understand and maintain their own bodies. This demographic tends to be tech-savvy, health conscious, and in the higher income brackets. Those people on the lower income side enjoy the same type of products, but typically tend to look for cheaper models.

Also growing in popularity is non-invasive diagnostic devices.  These are a type of wearable used in the biosensor market to gather medical information from patients.  Examples of this include devices that can monitor and map areas of the body including cardiac monitoring and brain waves.  This technology is vital to managing the health of the aging population, and will only become more important as technology continues to improve.  The sensors and electrodes that gather this data is one of the most important parts of these diagnostic devices, and is an area where Techprint can assist manufacturers.

Techprint is a custom designer and manufacturer of specialty graphics and printed electronic products. Our capabilities include the ability to design and produce custom printed electrodes and biosensor products, including those in the non-invasive diagnostic wearable medical devices market. TechPrint is able to design and produce the right product for most any device. Feel free to contact us to discuss your needs and learn more how we can help you with your wearable device development.

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New FDA Stand-Alone Symbols on Labels Regulations

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled in favor of allowing companies to use graphical representation without added text on their products. This was done in part to bring more American companies in line with symbols that are currently being used in European and foreign markets. As more countries begin to use the graphic symbols, there will be increased cohesion between markets. The new ruling will go into effect on September 13, 2016.

Along with cohesion across markets, the FDA believes the new labeling will also save companies money in the long term. Instead of changing labeling over the years, the symbols will remain the same without a need to redesign a new one. The FDA has estimated medical device manufacturers will save between $7.7 and $25.5 million dollars over the course of 20 years.

The Standards Development Organization (SDO) has established labeling without explanatory text. If a company uses these symbols there will be further cohesion as they will be more convenient for companies to use, and it will give companies the ability to conserve resources. Should a company choose to use their own symbols, they are encouraged to make sure consumers will fully understand the symbols used. If there is any confusion; the company will be liable for any adverse events that occur due to misunderstanding of their symbol.

Along with each product, companies must also provide a glossary of the symbols and a description of where to find the glossary. Companies can further save money by offering the glossary online so they don’t need to worry about additional printing costs. This new FDA ruling gives companies an opportunity to save money in the future when they switch to a graphic symbol. uv-inkjet

At Techprint we offer custom design and manufacturing for specialty graphics and printed electronic products.  We also offer sheet fed screen printing and roll to roll screen printing and converting to satisfy any label design requirements. To find out how Techprint’s capabilities can meet your needs,contact us.

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Medical Device Development Assistance and Manufacturing Incubators

The medical care industry is rapidly expanding due to the largest segment of the population aging and requiring medical assistance.  This has led to many companies working on developing new medical devices that will improve care and allow patients to get the treatment they need at reasonable and affordable prices.  Developing these new medical devices can be very expensive though, so manufacturing incubators and development centers backed by investors and venture capitalists have formed to assist in the process.

Product development concept

Who is helping?

For companies who are working on new innovative medical devices, there are many options available to get assistance for funding and product development.  Manufacturing incubators are one option for help.  These incubators can provide the cash and expertise to manage the process of developing and releasing new medical devices.  By working with these incubator groups, costly mistakes in development can be avoided as they have the experience in getting new medical device hardware to market.  One example is Bolt, a venture capital firm and manufacture incubator that is designed to help medical device startups with their early stage hardware and software development.

Another option is working with a university development center.  One such development center is M2D2 – the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center which is an UMass Lowell-UMass Worcester initiative that works with medical device developers to move medical device ideas from patent to production.  By working with M2D2 companies and entrepreneurs get access to state-of- the-art facilities and equipment that they may normally not be able to use.  They also provide access to experienced staffers who can provide guidance in prototyping and product development, and business feasibility among other areas.

EnterpriseWorks is another university owned development center operated by the University of Illinois to help launch startup companies.  Its clients have been based in the biotechnology, chemical sciences, software development and materials sciences industries.  With a 43,000 SF incubator facility with labs, offices and common space, all the needs of startup entrepreneurs can be met.

Northeastern University also has a student-led venture accelerator called IDEA that supports entrepreneurs in the Northeastern community.  Resources available include gap and prototype funding, as well as support from an entrepreneur in residence, and an investor network who are available to advise and finance ventures.  Clients they work with are from a variety of industries including software, food and beverage, and consumer products among many others.

Techprint and Medical Device OEMS

At Techprint we work with OEMS in the medical device market.  Medical device customers account for almost half of our business, giving us the experience and capabilities to provide custom products for all OEMS, both new startups and established manufacturers.  We have the in-house manufacturing equipment capable of building prototypes and all of the equipment for full-scale production.  From product concept development through the entire product lifecycle, we can provide the assistance you need to make it a success.  Contact us here for more information on the high quality products we can provide and the services we offer.

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