facturers entrenched in the market.
“The digital health movement is having the effect of re-
mote patient monitoring, which creates another power draw;
power efficiency is even more critical here,” explained Ru-
back. “Devices also have communication access to compo-
nents, subcomponents, and systems—for functions such as
status and condition monitoring.”
While wary of the cost of the market shift, Stanton was enthu-
siastic about the abundance of possibilities the digital health trend
brings.“The new low-voltage, high-speed digital chip technology
supports the medical industry significantly,”he said.“First, it allows
microvolt signal detection and processing that was very difficult
previously. Secondly, it dramatically increases the designer’s ability
to collect large amounts of digital data, compare that data to previ-
ous medical standards and/or previous condi-
tions of a patient, and automatically decide on
stimulation or alert signaling to medical staff.
With digital coupling and Bluetooth meth-
ods, information can be constantly monitored
on critical health conditions and transmitted
to professional monitoring and care centers.
Newer software and solid modeling systems
allow medical designers the opportunity to
customize both physical size and shape of
sensing and interconnecting devices to fit
within and serve the specific applications.”
But not all electronic component manu-
facturers have been impacted by the revolu-
tion, especially those given a custom order
without knowing which device the compo-
nent will end up in. “We are not affected so
much, in part because we often do not know
much about the end-use of the component
we might be designing,” stated Heckman.“In
addition, most consumer devices are part of
the“race to the bottom” trend—low-cost is
the most important attribute. Most products
in this category will be built offshore.”
A Customized Set of Challenges
A custom electronic component naturally requires a “custom” approach to its design and
manufacture. As such, there are challenges
specific to each organization across the spectrum of electronic components manufacturers,
for which there are no“off-the-shelf” solutions.
“When customers request custom medi-
cal grade modules, these are the hardest to
customize because of the number of com-
ponents that could be included in a module,
and for the fact that tooling always has to
be made for new custom designs,”said Ford.
“Tooling is expensive and time consuming
to do, and therefore dictates large minimum
runs to warrant developing new tooling.”
“Electric motors are our most challenging
customization,” noted Ruback.“This is most-
ly driven by the cost structure of a custom
component versus standard part, and our
loss of economies of scale. A similar impact
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