"We have entered a new stage in industry that some are calling Industry 4.0, where customization, seamless communication, and flexibility are the name of the game."
If you missed the MD&M West conference last week, than you probably missed former Google X director and architect of Google Glass, Babak Parviz, PhD, talk about wearable technologies in the healthcare industry and Andy Christensen, vice president of Personalized Surgery and Medical Devices at 3D Systems Corporation, talk about the potential of a new 3D printing technology that will transform the healthcare industry.
This year marked the 30th Anniversary of MD&M West - the largest medical design and manufacturing event in the world - and the program was surely a celebration, providing insights from experts and new innovations for every stage of medical device development from design to post market compliance.
Here are the top trends discussed throughout keynote addresses, conference presentations and panel discussions:
Hottest Medical Device Trends
Wearable Medical Devices
Wearable technology is expected to go mainstream by 2016. Many people are already familiar with Google Glass, FitBit, Nike+, and are anxiously awaiting the Apple Watch. However, it is wearable healthcare technologies that are accounting for half of the expected $2.9 billion in wearable technology sales in 2016.
During his keynote, Babak Parviz, helped attendees envision where the future of wearable technology is headed. Although Google Glass was an experiment, it took personalization to new level by interacting with the user and the environment through microphones and speakers and providing immediate information through cloud connection. Leveraging these capabilities in wearable healthcare technologies can mean immediate access to medical information and new frontiers. Parvis shared the following intriguing prospects for wearable healthcare technology:
ability to see molecules in laboratory medicine
ability to see more during surgery
hands-free data access during surgery or office visits
remote participation in medicine
The global market for healthcare 3D printing is expected to reach $1.13 billion by 2020. 3D printing technologies provide medical device manufactures with the capability to produce faster, test thoroughly and customize like never before. Already, dental laboratories and hearing aid manufacturers have benefited from individual and mass customization.
"It used to be that 3D printing was only of interest to one or two little teams tucked away somewhere," said Greg Olsen, senior industrial designer specializing in user research, user interface design, human factors, human machine interface and multi-media visualization. "Now, the interest in the technology spans the whole organization."
Design engineers are using 3D printing to test multiple ideas and find an optimal design with faster and less expensive iterations.
Sales and marketing are using printed prototypes to help the marketplace visualize the device.
Manufacturing is using 3D printing to produce a prototype within hours instead of days which reduces development time and time to market - a huge competitive advantage!
As for what's to come, Greg predicts:
- Faster print times
- Multi-function machine
- Stronger materials
- Electronics production
See the full presentation here.