COMPAMED in Düsseldorf continues on its road to success. Held in parallel with the MEDICA (4,554 exhibitors) - the world's largest pharmaceutical fair- the halls (8a and 8b) were running at full capacity at the world's leading trade fair for suppliers to the medical technology industry, held between 14th to 16th November (MEDICA running until 17th November 2012). 645 exhibitors from 34 countries represented a new record, and a booked floor space of more than 11,600 square metres, as well as the fair’s visitor numbers. Of a total of 130,600 visiting experts whose ticket gave them access to both events, more than 16,000 visitors also came to COMPAMED.
"Visitors were given an impressive overview of the range of services offered by suppliers. The industry has not been just about the manufacture of individual components for some time. COMPAMED exhibitors are competent partners in all phases of the product life cycle - from product development to production to spare parts management", according to Joachim Schäfer, Managing Director of Messe Düsseldorf, explaining the close integration of supplier's business processes with those of suppliers of technical medical devices (at the MEDICA exhibition). "The extremely short cycle of innovation of technical medical devices and systems requires a cooperative approach", continues Joachim Schäfer: "European 'MedTech' companies invest an average of eight per cent of their revenue in research and development. The product life cycle often is as little as two years. Any company hoping to keep up as a manufacturer also needs innovative suppliers."
For instance, 2E Mechatronic is considered innovative in the miniaturisation which continues to gain traction in medical technology. At the "DeviceMed Awards" staged for the first time at COMPAMED 2012, the company won the prize for the development of an extremely small thermal flow sensor in the category for micro- and nano-technology. "The SMD chip in our part is housed in an MID housing, i.e. in a circuit carrier manufactured using an injection moulding process, and works without a PCB", explains Stephan Huttenlocher, Product manager at 2E Mechatronic. MID stands for Molded Interconnect Devices. The special artificial material LCP (Liquid Crystalline Polymers) is used, which contains the metallic components. The laser machining practically releases it enabling the necessary conductor tracks to be made in a three-stage metallisation process. Smaller than the previous model by a factor of 20 or so, one application is in breathing apparatus.
Small components for end units
Sensirion AG goes one step further: The Swiss company presented the world's smallest moisture and temperature sensor at COMPAMED 2012. "It can never be too small, especially in mobile end units", says Andreas Meile, Head of Marketing at Sensirion, explaining the "shrinking process" to the current two by two by 0.8 millimetres. The tiny device is entering production in Spring 2013. Awaiba is also using the smallest dimensions. It has released a digital 3D camera module - the "NaEye Stereo" which measures only 1.0 by 2.2 by 1.4 millimetres. A complete stereo camera head is housed within these compact dimensions and is being used for 3D endoscopy, increasingly important in micro-invasive operations. Three examples of many. The trend towards miniaturisation is unbroken at COMPAMED.
The Multivac thermoforming packaging machine is a factor larger, which allows for fully-automatic, GNP-compliant packaging of sensitive products and sterile products in small and large lot sizes. "Today, medical products are manufacturer in ever small quantities, to meet regional- and other specifics. The producing company has to comply with very high requirements for rapid format change, safe line clearance and intelligent automation technologies for loading and unloading", explains Luc van de Vel - Head of the Medical Devices, Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals division at Multivac. The fully clean room-ready machine which works 50 to 100 per cent quicker than the predecessor model was rewarded the "DeviceMed Award" in the Equipment Provider category as well.
Medical technology in the "torture chamber"
Machines of a very different kind - "designed to destroy" - are produced by the American firm Instron, represented by its whole-owned subsidiary in Germany, exhibiting for the first time at COMPAMED. "We produce inspection machines that meet the highest demands on quality and functionality in medical technology", explains Jens Stalkopf, member of the Sales team for dynamic checking systems at Instron. This involves the processing of material characteristic values, also checking stresses in the rapid movement of implants, stents, packaging or catheter tubes. "We supply manufacturers of medical technology as well as many research and development forms, who want to test new materials", says Stalkopf. Often, ambient conditions must be simulated in the test devices, e.g. the conditions of the mouth for dental implants.
"Printed Electronics" are becoming more and more prevalent, in medical technology too
Printed electronics are becoming more and more prevalent in medical technology- at least around a dozen exhibitors are working with this area. CDA is the first company to combine printed electronics with micro-structural surfaces. Previously, CADA integrated additional parts for the manufacture of electrical conductor tracks using print technology - switches, capacitors and coils. Now comes the integration of functional surfaces and structures on plastic carriers. "Current solutions are for one interesting in microfluid Life Science applications, our technology also allows for the combination of optical and electronic functions in one system", according to Pia Harju, Head of Business Development at CDA. The next stage is likely to feature printed batteries. Messe Düsseldorf has launched its own info platform under http://www.pepso-global.com for this area. "Printed electronics is relevant for many application areas, taking this into account, Messe Düsseldorf is organising the respective industry event. This explains why we set up a platform for this area alone, we are also integrating it with suitable specialist fairs for trade, glass processing, plastic processing, for packaging or also medicine", CEO Joachim Schäfer sees Messe Düsseldorf in an ideal starting position to be able to provide the suppliers of printed electronics targeted marketing solutions.
No COMPAMED without new materials: Bayer MaterialScience has developed a new polyurethane raw material, which allows for the manufacture of especially soft and supple foams. With its high absorption and exceptional fluid retention, it meets today's requirements on moisture management for modern wound dressings. These foams can be coated with a skin-tolerant adhesive which is also based on aliphatic polyurethene chemistry. Due to its hydrophilic properties and adjustable adhesive force, adhesives can be used in a variety of wound treatments.
Igus is also working with plastics, but for very different applications. "We develop some polymers for parts which are in motion but should not need lubrication", says Dominik Hartmann, Product manager at Igus. Igus is using over 40 various thermoplastic polymer blends - primarily to replace metals. With more than 80,000 products in stock, the company provides a large module in the area of energy and cable routing, highly-flexible lines as well as lubricants and maintenance-free plain bearing solutions for all movement types. Areas of application range from cross to OP tables to adjustment units to miniaturised systems for laboratory tests and means of supply such as pipettors and mini-samples.
New fibre glass materials for endoscopes
Since the turn of the year Schott has been launching the ultra-pure visual glass fibre "PURAVIS". The glass for the new fibres with improved optical properties is manufactured without environmentally-critical elements of antimony, arsenic or lead according to state of the art melting methods. "Transmission over a fibre optic one metre in length is up to ten per cent better. Due to the low colour shift, even when using longer conductors, the illuminated objects retain their natural colour", stresses Karen Holst, Product Manager in the Medical division at Scott. PURAVIS is thus ideal for endoscopy to surgical microscopy. The material is especially designed for the particular demands on disinfection and autoclaving, but can still offer a long service life.
The right machining procedures must match the different materials. Micrometal specialises in etching precision parts made of metal. An important task is the intended roughening of implant surfaces which allows them to grow into the site better. "These kinds of requirements apply for titanium bolts for pivot teeth", explains Christian Ehrat, Junior Sales & Marketing Manager at Micrometal. The company offers its services for almost all metals and alloys in material thicknesses of 0.010 millimetres and above. Large production sizes as well as individual productions, three-dimensional objects or two-sided etching are possible.
Two trends can be seen in the similarly important area of microtechnology, as Mona Okroy, from IVAM - the specialist association for microtechnology, explains: "On the one hand, components are becoming more and more important, on the other, firms are cooperating with each other more and more". "This makes COMPAMED the ideal market place". IVAM again organised its special product market on the theme of microtechnology (which was already booked up in January 2012 with 40 registrations) and the well-attended COMPAMED HIGH-TECH FORUM.
This trend towards close partnerships during product development is also confirmed by Peter Reinhardt, Editor in chief of the specialist magazine DeviceMed, which provided the content for the COMPAMED SUPPLIERS FORUM. "On the one hand, cost pressures are increasing due to the reimbursement system, on the other hand, highly-innovative products need to be developed which can also demonstrate their benefit. It is often not possible to meet these requirements alone", says Reinhardt.
Whatever "fruits" cooperation can bring in the form of new product solutions, experts for production processes and product development can find out at the next COMPAME: to be held between 20th and 22nd November in Düsseldorf.
The next MEDICA will be held: 20th to 23rd November 2013
Information online: http://www.compamed.de / http://www.medica.de
The authors: Klaus Jopp, freelance Finance Journalist (Hamburg)
Press contact for MEDICA + COMPAMED
Martin-Ulf Koch/ Larissa Browa
Tel. +49(0)211-4560-444/ -549
Düsseldorf – 20th November 2012