As medical service providers stretch their budgets to support an expanding and ageing patient list, they need device and component manufacturers to provide more value-oriented solutions that reduce the cost-of-ownership - from manufacturing and assembly to therapy and ongoing maintenance. Until now reduced cost has been synonymous with reduced standards. But, as a premium provider to the sector, Smiths Interconnect was determined to deliver quality connectors at a more welcome price-point.
Our team began by deconstructing the real-world requirements – both by device manufacturers and patients – and concluded that many connectors have become far more sophisticated, complex, prescriptive, and durable than they need to be. Quite simply, they were over-built for their intended application.
With smarter engineering, we have:
- Aligned form and function - delivering the required performance without compromising quality.
- Increased production options - designing flexibility into our connectors that enables manufacturers to optimise their markets and customer satisfaction.
- Simplified assembly - providing the option for customers to bypass an assembly step to reduce the cost-of-ownership.
The first of our value-oriented innovations for this sector builds on our popular HyperGrip series of circular plastic connectors which are underpinned by the unparalleled ease-of-use, reliability and performance of our Hypertac® advanced hyperboloid contact technology.
Like their high-spec predecessors, HyperGrip® Flex connectors have a push/pull latch that allows speedy, one-handed disconnects, with low insertion/extraction force for durability, low power consumption, reliability under harsh conditions and excellent wiping action.
Of course, they also undergo our rigorous quality checks and meet medical industry requirements such as finger-proofing to IEC60601, flammability rated to UL94 V0 and compliance with most sterilisation methods.
What’s more, their advanced keying system allows customers to build connectors with six different keyed versions of the same standard connector, reducing lead time and inventory whilst optimising potential applications - from devices for patient monitoring, electrosurgical and endoscopic tools and catheters to home healthcare and portable therapeutic applications.
Redesigned for the real world
But instead of the traditional nested solder design for high cycle life (>10,000 cycles), these connectors have a simplified, machined ‘Crimp and Poke’ design. This robustly withstands standard industry cycle life (at least 2,000 cycles) and complies with RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) III, whilst lending itself to a higher-volume/lower-cost production process.
Smiths Interconnect has also poured all this sector experience and engineering expertise into designing Eclipta, a patented ground-breaking PCM edge card connector for disposable medical applications. It provides high performance, ease-of-use and flexibility to healthcare providers whilst addressing their real-world manufacturing process needs at a ‘one-use’ cost point.
Reduced production costs
The break-through is Eclipta’s ‘double-ended’ termination technique which cleverly uses the PCB as the contact on the disposable side of the connector, eliminating the need for a contact system on that side.
This also gives customers the option to add their own PCBs, which reduces the assembly time and supply chain risk as well as the tooling and inventory costs associated with a separate termination.
What’s more, having the board inside the connector allows customers to add active surface mount components such as an EEPROM (Electrically Erasable and Programmable Read Only Memory).
Additional opportunities include mass termination of lines directly to the PCB in the disposable and reusable sides, customisation and reworking the reusable side.
Eclipta solutions use materials specifically selected for the medical environments, which allows for use with standard sterilisation protocols (Autoclave, EtO, & Sterrad®) and chemical wipe down.
The high mating lifecycle life of up to 2,500 cycles increases the MTBF (mean time between failures) and the fingerproof contacts on the reusable side contribute to the safety of patients and medical personnel.
All this makes Eclipta ideally designed and priced for use with ablation cathethers, RF generators, home healthcare devices and many other disposable medical devices.
Key features include:
- Sleek, premium quality ‘look, feel and performance’ Smiths Interconnect’s solutions are trusted for
- Quick, one-handed mating/unmating
- Frictionless termination design that minimises potential damage from repeated insertion/extraction
- Reassuringly reliable contact performance
- Designed for actual application cycle life
- Simplified assembly for cost-efficient mass-production
- Assembly versatility and easy to customise
- Easy to install, use and service in the field
All this adds up to a lower cost-of-ownership, reducing the cost-of-therapy without undermining the quality of care.
The value revolution
The resulting solutions – one a design evolution, the other a design revolution – draw on Smiths Interconnect’s extensive knowledge and experience to respond to the real-world requirements of medical device manufacturers and service providers.