PCBs are an integral part of the electronics used in different industries. Everything from a simple LCD light display to an ever-upgrading phone houses a PCB. One industry that has seen an enormous improvement thanks to the advancement of PCBs is the medical industry.
Hundreds of complex machines help heal, improve, and maintain human life. Blood is cleaned through dialysis machines, brain scans are performed with MRIs, and medications are administered through computer-aided drips. Guess what powers these medical devices? PCBs!
As leaders in medical PCB assembly services, here are insights from our team on how PCBs help improve medical technology as well as a review of important considerations necessary to design and build these PCBs.
The Benefits of Medical PCBs
PCBs and advanced computer technology have vastly improved medical field computers and systems in every conceivable area. Shrinking down enormous devices for mobile use and linking every patient’s information for easier accessibility has made the monitoring and administration of medical aid quicker, easier, and more precise. Below is a list of the many ways medical PCBs have helped:
● Digital Health Records
The most obvious benefit that PCBs have offered the medical industry is online and computer systems designed to collect and store medical records. Keeping every piece of medical data written down was time-consuming and inefficient. Patient files would have to be stored and transported wherever a patient was seen. Now online databases and digital records mean that any patient data can be acquired at a moment’s notice from anywhere around the world.
● Wireless Communication
As with the records systems, PCBs have helped streamline medical needs on the move. Systems in ambulances allow paramedics to be tracked and contacted in real-time, directed to remote patients and emergencies with ease. This also allows paramedics to be kept up to date with patient information and emergency data that they may need as they work. Certain companies are even working on remote surgery robotics that allows surgeons to work precisely without being in the theatre.
● Smartphones, Tablets, and Mobile Computers
Further enhancing practicing doctors’ access to patient and medical information, an array of mobile devices has been made available to staff at hospitals. Doctors and nurses can digitally keep notes, compare information, and dispense prescriptions and other medical devices without the need for pens and paper. Other online services can also help diagnose illness and compare medications to ensure that each patient is treated as quickly and accurately as possible.
● Wearable Medical Technology
Medical PCBs have become small and intricate enough to allow wearable devices to perform a slew of functions. Monitoring devices can keep track of blood oxygen and sugar levels, helping to administer medications and collect data regarding health conditions. Similar devices can also be used to track the conditions of athletes and the physical responses that occur during medical tests and trials.
Design Regulations for Medical PCBs
Naturally, as medical PCBs are used in devices common in hospitals, they must be built to high standards. After all, lives often depend on these machines working properly. Every PCB must be officially registered with:
- The IPC, which regulates assembly and production standards
- The ISO, which determines the safety of each board’s construction and testing
- The FDA, which will classify the PCB according to the risk it represents to users
With the FDA, manufacturers must remember to re-register their establishment each year between 1 October and 31 December. They must also ensure each PCB is given a Medical Device Listing, inspected for quality system regulation, provided medical device reporting (MDR), and acquired premarket approval (PMA). These requirements are designed to ensure that each medical device is thoroughly documented and approved for medical use.
When a board is designed for use in a medical device, designers must ensure the following:
- The board must meet safety standards
- The board must follow regulatory compliance norms
- The board must be reliable under frequent or constant use
- The board must achieve balance between functionality and accessibility
- The PCB must be optimally cleaned
Considerations for Designing Medical PCBs
As mentioned, designing a medical-grade PCB is a precise and delicate art. Each design stage must conform to the aforementioned regulations to ensure that the board is compliant for medical use. Here, we compiled a list of considerations for designing a medical PCB.
Schematic Designs and Layout
It is important to ensure that every part of your medical PCB is designed to meet the standards required by the client. Power supply considerations must be made, as redundant and backup power systems are required with medical devices.
Multiple layers help reduce SNR and noise. They are also known to help increase PCB performance and reliability.
Bill of Material List and Components
Ensure that your BOM is accurate to compliant parts and that every component you receive matches it. Ideally, you do not want to replace any parts outside of your previously planned BOM as this could affect your PCB’s accreditation and not meet requirements.
Drawings for the Assembly
Every medical PCB must be precise and accurate in its construction. Ensuring that everything is in a solid drawing plan beforehand will negate any possible structural failure or design errors before construction begins. So long as every PCB follows the design drawings exactly, there should be no errors.
Show Test Points Clearly
As with designs, it’s important to keep the test points visible. As the boards need to be strictly accurate and fully functioning, this will help quickly weed out any faulty or incomplete boards.
Plan for Rigorous PCB Prototyping
Once you have assembled your first functioning PCB, this will be the prototype. Run it through as many tests as you can to predict its success. Once it meets the client’s requirements, this will be your board for mass production.
Few advancements in technology have been as important to human survival as medical PCBs. It can be stressful, daunting work to produce them, but they provide so many benefits when manufactured right. Reliable electronic manufacturing services for medical PCBs will ensure your circuit boards come equipped with the design and components needed to help medical devices function at their best.