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    Medical

    Medical devices harness digital to make hotbed of innovation

    • By MTDCNC
    • May 18, 2021
    • 7 minute read

    Anaesthesia vaporizers, dialysis machines, prosthetic limbs, hospital beds, stoma products, ventilators, orthotic footwear, moulded vessels and containers, magnetic tracers for targeted surgery and lateral flow test kits:- medical devices cover an enormous range of products that require many different manufacturing technologies. Medical devices form a large part of the aggregate UK life sciences industry, which employs 256,100 people and generates a turnover of £80.7bn (August 2020 government figures), making it twice as big as Britain’s civil aerospace industry at £37bn-£40bn. Will Stirling reports.

    Britain is good at designing and making medical devices and more recently bolting digital services to them. The core ‘Med Tech’ sector, which includes digital health products, employs 102,800 people and creates £20.4bn in turnover with 2,850 businesses, which is 45% of the life sciences industry. Then two service and supply sectors supply materials, equipment and specialist services, which employ 89,000 people across 2,710 business with a turnover of £23.6bn. From an engineering SME point of view, medical device areas like prosthetics and orthotics, mobility and hospital equipment – do not have the high volumes of many automotive and aerospace component contracts, but the sector is relatively shock-proof. MedTech companies were quieter through the pandemic as Covid-19 dominated hospital care, but orders are increasing as the NHS and foreign health providers switch from treating Coronavirus to general operations. The UK also has an ageing population and technology to improve elderly living is a growth sector.

    The medical sector is a home for innovation, with many start-ups and young companies adopting digitalisation to augment manufactured products, as healthcare shifts to patient monitoring and preventative care to reduce hospital treatment. The medical goods trade associations like the British Healthcare Trades Association say the biggest growth segment is digital companies; 63% of digital health businesses were formed in 2010 or later. UK medical devices export well, with the US being the biggest market, the Middle East is also growing as that region builds modern, highly specified hospitals, and Asia is also growing strong, says Sarah Lepak of the BHTA.

    A great example of a British company fusing traditional and modern engineering knowledge with digital technology is Blatchford. The flagship product of the Basingstoke and Sheffield-based company, now with a private equity owner after 139-years of private ownership, is the MovAid, a shortening of Movement Assisted Device. The MovAid is a personalised medical device tailormade for individuals that matches their specific disability to produce much better outcomes and in the long run, cheaper healthcare and better quality of life experience for longer. It incorporates Blatchford’s award-winning ‘Linx’ intelligent prosthetic limb, a prosthetic designed for people with amputations above the knee. The Linx limb mimics natural muscular-skeletal control because both the knee and the foot can ‘talk’ to each other. In all previous prosthetics, knee and foot joints were developed separately and worked in isolation. Sir Saeed Zahedi, Nadine Stech and the team at Blatchford won the 2016 MacRobert Award, the Oscars of engineering, for the Linx limb.

    The MovAid platform is aiming to achieve a mass customisation manufacturing process, where it aims to produce smart prosthetics that are fully customised to the patient in high volume for the same or similar cost to high volume near-identical prosthetics, making the product more appealing to the NHS.

    The Cambridge sci-tech cluster, ‘Silicon Fen’, is home to several high-tech medical firms including Endomag. A spin-out from University College London and the University of Houston, the company uses magnet technology to help surgeons improve the success rate of operations. Endomag is a unique, minimally invasive surgical guidance platform to help tissue localisation in cancer surgery, especially breast cancer. Using the Sentimag® probe, physicians can perform sentinel node biopsies with the lymphatic tracer, Magtrace®, and tissue localisation procedures with the magnetic marker, Magseed®. Magseed® is an alternative to the guidewire used as the traditional method of localising breast tumours.
    Endomag also produces the Magtrace® lymphatic tracer, where tiny magnetic particles of Magtrace® are optimised to take the same path a spreading cancer cell would through the lymphatic system, making it an ideal tracer for sentinel lymph node biopsy procedures. In November 2020, Endomag closed a £15 million Series D financing round, the business currently has 63 employees and in 2020, turnover was over £10 million. Endomag’s products are manufactured in the UK by ITL.

    From the company’s impressive manufacturing facility in Telford, with over 200 CNC and injection moulding machines, Protolabs manufactures many medical devices, ranging from new innovations and prototypes to batch runs of up to 20,000+ parts. David Barnes, Injection Moulding Product Manager, says: “We have seen a 10% increase in medical sales and, as the world attempts to get back to normal, we are expecting this to rise again in 2021. Medical now accounts for between 20% and 30% of our total activity in the UK and one of the main factors driving our popularity is speed. Once a design has been proven for manufacturability, customers can request parts to be made and supplied as quickly as a single day.”

    The company’s e-commerce platform allows customers to receive quotes for parts along with Design for Manufacturability analysis.

    “Covid-19 continues to be a difficult time for businesses, but we have remained operational throughout,” David adds.

    “This included working with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains on its Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) system that delivers oxygen into the lungs without the need for an invasive ventilator, and the development of ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Dave’ valves that converted snorkelling equipment into ventilator masks in Italy.”

    Protolabs will complete an ambitious extension of its UK factory later this year.

    Plastic injection moulding company Adreco Plastics has a contract with the Department for Health and Social Care to produce 19 injection moulding tools to manufacture lateral flow test components for Covid-19 rapid tests, leading Adreco to purchase four new ARBURG moulding machines this year.

    Lateral flow tests (LFTs) rely on two measures, specificity and sensitivity. Sensitivity is how many false negatives are recorded, where the low viral load does not show up on a test. The current supplier of LFT tests to the NHS, Innova, only scores around 49% sensitivity, suggesting current LFT results are fairly unreliable, according to reports on the Government website (S0925_Innova_Lateral_Flow_SARS-CoV-2_Antigen_test_accuracy.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk). Adreco Plastics is working with several British test manufacturers, all promising much higher sensitivity, so when the UK made test is commercially available later this year, this product should provide a far more reliable covid test for schools and companies. This should allow the DHSC to use the summer months to stockpile a British made lateral flow test, in preparation for any spike in infections in autumn 2021.

    An exciting development, Adreco has developed a dissolvable plastic material for the new cassettes made from PVOH, or polyvinyl alcohol, the material in the clear film that covers washing tablets. When exposed to water the material dissolves harmlessly into a salt solution, leaving no microplastic particles, making the new cassettes ideal for single-use tests and making disposal kinder to the environment. “Diagnostic test kits like the COVID rapid tests, are normally supplied in a sealed foil pouch to protect the test itself, so this is the perfect solution to stop the dissolvable plastic absorbing any ambient moisture,” says Sam Hill, CEO, Adreco Plastics

    Medical equipment manufacturer Penlon became a household name in 2020 when the company supported The Ventilator Challenge UK (VCUK), a consortium of industrial companies that scaled-up manufacture of both a Penlon ventilator and a Smiths Medical device for the treatment of hospitalised covid-19 patients. The two companies produced 13,437 ventilators for the NHS, 11,683 of

    which were the Penlon ESO 2 Emergency Ventilator. Penlon’s key products also include anaesthesia machines and vaporisers.

    Across the board, UK companies are delivering very innovative solutions to help people stay healthy and give them a better quality of life when they suffer illness or injuries.

    https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/18121739/20200511130838-640x360.jpg

    Medical devices harness digital to make hotbed of innovation

    Anaesthesia vaporizers, dialysis machines, prosthetic limbs, hospital beds, stoma products, ventilators, orthotic footwear, moulded vessels and containers, magnetic tracers for targeted surgery and lateral flow test kits:- medical devices cover an enormous range of products that require many different manufacturing technologies. Medical devices form a large part of the aggregate UK life sciences industry, which employs 256,100 people and generates a turnover of £80.7bn (August 2020 government figures), making it twice as big as Britain’s civil aerospace industry at £37bn-£40bn. Will Stirling reports.

    Britain is good at designing and making medical devices and more recently bolting digital services to them. The core ‘Med Tech’ sector, which includes digital health products, employs 102,800 people and creates £20.4bn in turnover with 2,850 businesses, which is 45% of the life sciences industry. Then two service and supply sectors supply materials, equipment and specialist services, which employ 89,000 people across 2,710 business with a turnover of £23.6bn. From an engineering SME point of view, medical device areas like prosthetics and orthotics, mobility and hospital equipment – do not have the high volumes of many automotive and aerospace component contracts, but the sector is relatively shock-proof. MedTech companies were quieter through the pandemic as Covid-19 dominated hospital care, but orders are increasing as the NHS and foreign health providers switch from treating Coronavirus to general operations. The UK also has an ageing population and technology to improve elderly living is a growth sector.

    The medical sector is a home for innovation, with many start-ups and young companies adopting digitalisation to augment manufactured products, as healthcare shifts to patient monitoring and preventative care to reduce hospital treatment. The medical goods trade associations like the British Healthcare Trades Association say the biggest growth segment is digital companies; 63% of digital health businesses were formed in 2010 or later. UK medical devices export well, with the US being the biggest market, the Middle East is also growing as that region builds modern, highly specified hospitals, and Asia is also growing strong, says Sarah Lepak of the BHTA.

    A great example of a British company fusing traditional and modern engineering knowledge with digital technology is Blatchford. The flagship product of the Basingstoke and Sheffield-based company, now with a private equity owner after 139-years of private ownership, is the MovAid, a shortening of Movement Assisted Device. The MovAid is a personalised medical device tailormade for individuals that matches their specific disability to produce much better outcomes and in the long run, cheaper healthcare and better quality of life experience for longer. It incorporates Blatchford’s award-winning ‘Linx’ intelligent prosthetic limb, a prosthetic designed for people with amputations above the knee. The Linx limb mimics natural muscular-skeletal control because both the knee and the foot can ‘talk’ to each other. In all previous prosthetics, knee and foot joints were developed separately and worked in isolation. Sir Saeed Zahedi, Nadine Stech and the team at Blatchford won the 2016 MacRobert Award, the Oscars of engineering, for the Linx limb.

    The MovAid platform is aiming to achieve a mass customisation manufacturing process, where it aims to produce smart prosthetics that are fully customised to the patient in high volume for the same or similar cost to high volume near-identical prosthetics, making the product more appealing to the NHS.

    The Cambridge sci-tech cluster, ‘Silicon Fen’, is home to several high-tech medical firms including Endomag. A spin-out from University College London and the University of Houston, the company uses magnet technology to help surgeons improve the success rate of operations. Endomag is a unique, minimally invasive surgical guidance platform to help tissue localisation in cancer surgery, especially breast cancer. Using the Sentimag® probe, physicians can perform sentinel node biopsies with the lymphatic tracer, Magtrace®, and tissue localisation procedures with the magnetic marker, Magseed®. Magseed® is an alternative to the guidewire used as the traditional method of localising breast tumours.
    Endomag also produces the Magtrace® lymphatic tracer, where tiny magnetic particles of Magtrace® are optimised to take the same path a spreading cancer cell would through the lymphatic system, making it an ideal tracer for sentinel lymph node biopsy procedures. In November 2020, Endomag closed a £15 million Series D financing round, the business currently has 63 employees and in 2020, turnover was over £10 million. Endomag’s products are manufactured in the UK by ITL.

    From the company’s impressive manufacturing facility in Telford, with over 200 CNC and injection moulding machines, Protolabs manufactures many medical devices, ranging from new innovations and prototypes to batch runs of up to 20,000+ parts. David Barnes, Injection Moulding Product Manager, says: “We have seen a 10% increase in medical sales and, as the world attempts to get back to normal, we are expecting this to rise again in 2021. Medical now accounts for between 20% and 30% of our total activity in the UK and one of the main factors driving our popularity is speed. Once a design has been proven for manufacturability, customers can request parts to be made and supplied as quickly as a single day.”

    The company’s e-commerce platform allows customers to receive quotes for parts along with Design for Manufacturability analysis.

    “Covid-19 continues to be a difficult time for businesses, but we have remained operational throughout,” David adds.

    “This included working with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains on its Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) system that delivers oxygen into the lungs without the need for an invasive ventilator, and the development of ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Dave’ valves that converted snorkelling equipment into ventilator masks in Italy.”

    Protolabs will complete an ambitious extension of its UK factory later this year.

    Plastic injection moulding company Adreco Plastics has a contract with the Department for Health and Social Care to produce 19 injection moulding tools to manufacture lateral flow test components for Covid-19 rapid tests, leading Adreco to purchase four new ARBURG moulding machines this year.

    Lateral flow tests (LFTs) rely on two measures, specificity and sensitivity. Sensitivity is how many false negatives are recorded, where the low viral load does not show up on a test. The current supplier of LFT tests to the NHS, Innova, only scores around 49% sensitivity, suggesting current LFT results are fairly unreliable, according to reports on the Government website (S0925_Innova_Lateral_Flow_SARS-CoV-2_Antigen_test_accuracy.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk). Adreco Plastics is working with several British test manufacturers, all promising much higher sensitivity, so when the UK made test is commercially available later this year, this product should provide a far more reliable covid test for schools and companies. This should allow the DHSC to use the summer months to stockpile a British made lateral flow test, in preparation for any spike in infections in autumn 2021.

    An exciting development, Adreco has developed a dissolvable plastic material for the new cassettes made from PVOH, or polyvinyl alcohol, the material in the clear film that covers washing tablets. When exposed to water the material dissolves harmlessly into a salt solution, leaving no microplastic particles, making the new cassettes ideal for single-use tests and making disposal kinder to the environment. “Diagnostic test kits like the COVID rapid tests, are normally supplied in a sealed foil pouch to protect the test itself, so this is the perfect solution to stop the dissolvable plastic absorbing any ambient moisture,” says Sam Hill, CEO, Adreco Plastics

    Medical equipment manufacturer Penlon became a household name in 2020 when the company supported The Ventilator Challenge UK (VCUK), a consortium of industrial companies that scaled-up manufacture of both a Penlon ventilator and a Smiths Medical device for the treatment of hospitalised covid-19 patients. The two companies produced 13,437 ventilators for the NHS, 11,683 of

    which were the Penlon ESO 2 Emergency Ventilator. Penlon’s key products also include anaesthesia machines and vaporisers.

    Across the board, UK companies are delivering very innovative solutions to help people stay healthy and give them a better quality of life when they suffer illness or injuries.