5 Top Trends in Medical Grade PCB Design and Manufacturing

March 11, 2021 , in Blog, Medical

Devices composed of medical grade PCBs

Medical grade PCB driven laboratory equipment

The medical product development industry has been tested to a degree unimaginable in most other industries. As laboratories worldwide raced to create a vaccine that would counteract the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, factories likewise worked tirelessly to develop devices for analyzing virus test results. Flexibility and innovation—standard characteristics of several new trends in building medical device electronics—have enabled manufacturers to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. Let’s examine several of the trends that have impacted the design of medical grade PCBs and how your CM can best respond to meet medical device industry standards.

Medical PCB Design Trends

When designing medical electronic devices several key standards and regulations should be satisfied to ensure the safety of both patients and medical professionals. However, while safeguards are necessary, they can also lengthen the interval from product design to distribution approval. Thus, major technological transitions may take years to impact the market.

Nevertheless, medical device technology is dynamic, and several advances are visible in the current market. Some recent advances that have reached the market include higher resolution computer vision, robotics, wearables, machine learning and AI software such as a medical device (SaMD) technology. To keep up with these innovations, several medical grade PCB design trends are utilized.

Trending Medical PCB Attributes

Trend #1 Smaller and Denser

As circuit boards for medical device electronics have become smaller, component placement density has increased. Subsequently, the margin of error for boards has decreased, necessitating adaptability in design and manufacturing.

Trend #2 High-Density Interconnect (HDI) Boards

Smaller boards with higher functionality result in tighter interconnectivity paths with less area for traces. For this reason, many medical boards employ HDI.

Trend #3 Non-standard Form Factors

The trend toward self-monitoring health vitals for exercise, wellness or medical conditions has led to non-standard PCB form factor designs.

Trend #4 Flex or Rigid-Flex Structures

Flexible electronics, which have special manufacturing requirements that need to be incorporated into their design, continue to gain momentum.

Trend #5 IoT Utilization

Device interconnectivity has been recognized as a method for improving medical systems and transferring essential data. As a result, designing PCBAs for IoT is now a consideration for medical device electronics.

For the foreseeable future, the attributes listed above will likely remain major considerations for medical electronic device innovations. To keep pace, ensure that your CM is up-to-date on the board-building trends discussed below.

Manufacturing Trends for Medical Grade PCBs

The current industrial production revolution, or Industry 4.0, emphasizes communications and software to improve manufacturing speed and efficiency. To ensure optimal medical grade PCBs, be sure to incorporate the standards described below that have emerged from this new industrial paradigm.

How to Best Build Medical Grade PCBs

  • Ensure Design Intent

The best way to incorporate design intent throughout your board build process is to partner with your CM early in the development process.

  • Optimize DFM and DFA Utilization

Right-first-time (RFT) manufacturing is essential to optimize medical PCBA development. To meet this high yield rate objective, make design choices that utilize your CM’s DFM and DFA rules and guidelines.

  • Employ Digital Twin Technology

Simulation has long been used to prevent waste and mitigate development costs. For PCB manufacturing, digital twin technology encapsulates this objective and identifies errors or potential errors before the first board is spun.

  • Agile Manufacturing Process

By initiating agile processes, board builders can incorporate design changes iteratively with minimal manufacturing disruptions.

  • Open and Transparent Collaboration

Establish and utilize open and transparent communication with your CM from the start so that your medical grade PCB becomes a collaboration between you and your CM.

Tempo's Advanced Custom PCB Manufacturing Service for Complex Medical Systems Development
  • Works with 4 of the top 10 medical devices manufacturing companies.
  • ISO-9001, IPC-600 and IPC-610 commitment to quality certifications.
  • Accurate quote in less than a day.
  • DFM support from Day 1 of design.
  • Fastest turnkey PCB manufacturing in the industry.
  • Rigid, rigid-flex and flex board capabilities for wearables and embedded biosystems.
  • Custom automated BOM verification tool.
  • Sources components from the most reputable suppliers in the industry.
  • Software-driven robotics assembly.
  • Standard quality testing, including X-ray and inline AOI.
  • Superior open, transparent PCB manufacturing experience.

By following the above recommendations and ensuring that your CM is certified and experienced in building high-quality PCBAs, you can meet or exceed the rigorous medical device industry standards. Tempo Automation is a certified turnkey manufacturer that leads the industry in turnaround time. We will work with you on all of your medical grade PCB developments and deliver high-quality results along with superior support.

And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you’d like more information on designing and manufacturing medical grade PCBs, contact us.

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