As medical devices get smaller and more devices move out of the hospitals, what is the next step in this evolution?
Device manufacturers will be challenged by the desire for more functionality in an ever reducing size (and cost). Parallels to what the medical device community faces can easily be seen in product evolution from the electronics, computing, and telecom industries. One enabling strategy that has been effective in those industries is adding functionality to individual components in an assembly. An example of this is placing electrical conductors on a structural element to gain space and eliminate wires. In addition to reducing form factor, This strategy can also reduce costs through reduced component counts and assembly time, with the extra benefit of streamlining the supply chain.
Generally, added functionality and reduced size/cost are not complementary requirements. Simple evolution of existing designs isn't enough. Finding new solutions to size and functionality requirements will drive device manufacturers to new technologies or to combine existing technologies into a more complex component. An example might be to combine etching, coating, and forming to achieve a 3D part with built in standoff pads, electrical insulation, and assembly aids. This would generate a more complex component, But can simplify the overall assembly and be instrumental in achieving the desired functionality improvements and lowered overall cost.