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Medical Device Design Trends for 2022

Brian Magill, Director, Product Development, Grant Nair, Staff Engineer, Team Lead, Kevin Montgomery, Sr. Engineering Lead  | September 7, 2022

The ITE team has participated in the design and development of a number of medical devices in recent years, ranging from capital equipment to single-use.We've learned a lot from our experiences—especially during and after the pandemic. In fact, the pandemic highlighted several key medical device design trends that every product developer needs to consider at this time.

In this article, we explore the three most important medical device design trends for 2022 as they relate to:

  1. Supply Chain Uncertainty

  2. Design for Additive Manufacturing

  3. Simulation and Analysis

Although the medical device design trends in this article came about as a result of pandemic-related challenges, they have also led to exciting innovations and process improvements for the entire product design field. 

1. Supply Chain Uncertainty

In the post-pandemic world, supply chain challenges have become the norm. For example, certain materials—such as chips and processors—are difficult to obtain because of COVID-related labor shortages, supply chain difficulties, and geopolitical factors like the war in Ukraine. Due to these serious concerns, it’s important to ask the following when creating a new medical device: 

“Does my design have a Plan B or a Plan C if I can’t source a critical, difficult-to-find component? How will I react if the component is suddenly unavailable.”

For some medical equipment projects, answering these questions is easy. All they require is the re-sourcing of components or redesign of  boards to accept alternative chips or components. Other projects are inherently riskier because they require a unique component that is extremely difficult to source. 

To make sure you’re fully prepared for any supply chain uncertainties, consider the following strategies: 

In some cases, designing for additive is an excellent strategy for overcoming supply chain uncertainty.

2. Design for Additive Manufacturing Innovations

When components are difficult to source, designing for additive could be a workaround. 3D printing is not just for prototyping anymore. New 3D printing technologies—including industrial applications—are revolutionizing the process of designing new products.

At ITE, we have found the additive manufacturing process feasible for certain medical device design situations—allowing us to ship a final product or pilot the first release faster. Of course, it is essential to properly vet the situation and compare all options before moving forward with a 3D printing strategy. Also, product designers may want to create a machine-made component for greater efficiency at a later time.

Here are some advantages of the latest design-for-additive technology improvements:

The most recent simulation and analysis technologies are particularly suited to design-for-additive activities.

3. Simulation & Analysis Technology Innovations

The latest computer simulation and analysis technology empowers medical device designers to finalize more of their designs before prototyping. This offers greater speed and efficiency—with a substantial reduction in wasted effort and errors—throughout the entire development process. 

Here are some of the key benefits that the latest simulation and analysis technologies offer:

A Final Thought: Sometimes Design Challenges Bring About Exciting Solutions and Technologies

As you’ve seen in this article, the pandemic may have brought supply chain and component sourcing challenges. However, these challenges have also driven the current medical device design trends in a way that has inspired innovative solutions and technologies related to:

What medical device design trends have you encountered during and after the pandemic? Please send us an email and share your story. The product design engineers at ITE would love to hear from you.