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The medical industry remains at the forefront of technological innovation. Understandably so. From diagnostic equipment to monitoring devices, having the latest tech can not only help to make analytical decisions, but in many cases, it can be lifesaving.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are a key component in modern electronic medical equipment.
Once designed, PCBs can be produced in bulk. At DesignSpark, we offer a bespoke PCB design service that can be used at a scale that suits your needs. To find out more about how this software fits in the medical field, check out our guide.
What is a PCB?
A printed circuit board (PCB) connects electronic components within a device, tool, or piece of equipment. It consists of copper conductors that form electrical connections between the components.
What does a PCB look like?
Printed circuit boards are set out in a sandwich design and the layers are laminated together. These layers are the substrate – usually fibreglass, a layer of copper, and a soldermask, which is used to help solder in the right area. The top layer is the silkscreen with the letters and numbers that are used to make assembling the PCB straightforward.
Using PCBs in a medical setting
The medical industry relies heavily on PCBs, integrating them into the heart of medical equipment. PCBs act as the nervous system, transmitting signals, processing data, and ensuring the seamless operation of complex medical devices.
From the bustling corridors of NHS hospitals to private clinics, PCBs are crucial in ensuring the precision, reliability, and efficiency of medical equipment, ranging from diagnostic tools to therapeutic devices. The integration of PCBs enhances the accuracy of medical devices and contributes to patient safety, as thorough design and manufacturing reduce the risk of the equipment or device malfunctioning.
What are the applications for PCBs in the medical industry?
The uses for PCBs in the medical industry are far reaching. These intricate boards play a pivotal role in the functionality of medical equipment, impacting diagnosis, treatment, and patient care.
They are used in the majority of imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT, and ultrasound. In England alone, according to the NHS, there were 43.5 million imaging tests reported between March 2022 and February 2023.
Some of the most common applications for PCBs in the medical field include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines: MRI machines are indispensable tools for visualising internal body structures. These complex devices require precise and reliable signal processing, and PCBs provide this. PCB design software makes it possible to plan the layout and arrangement of components, maximising signal quality.
- Computerised tomography (CT) scanners: CT scanners offer detailed cross-sectional images of the body, helping to diagnose illnesses and conditions. They also give medical professionals access to the information needed to provide interventions. The speed and accuracy of CT scans are directly influenced by the intricacy of PCBs within the machine. PCB design software allows for the creation of compact PCB layouts, making data processing faster and offering higher image resolution.
- Patient monitoring systems: In hospitals and clinics, patient monitoring systems rely on PCBs to process and transmit stats such as heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. These boards need to be compact, reliable, and energy-efficient, which can be achieved through detailed PCB design and layout.
- Surgical equipment: Surgical procedures often involve precision instruments controlled by electronic systems. PCBs integrate electronics in surgical equipment, enabling surgeons to perform delicate procedures with enhanced precision and control.
- Portable medical devices: Portable and wearable medical devices, such as cochlear implants and pacemakers, use PCBs.
Advantages of PCB design software in medical devices and equipment
There is a range of advantages that come with using PCB design software to develop and manufacture medical equipment. Some of these are:
- Precision and customisation: PCB design software offers the opportunity to design and customise PCB layouts to suit the specific requirements of medical devices. This precision ensures that medical equipment meets the highest standards of accuracy and reliability in the healthcare sector.
- Faster development cycles: The medical industry is fast paced, with the need for rapid development of technologies and devices. PCB design software speeds up prototyping and iteration, making it easier to refine designs and bring innovations to the market faster.
- Simulation and testing: Before physically manufacturing a PCB, its behaviour can be simulated in the design stage. This helps to identify potential issues, optimise layouts, and predict how the PCB will interact with other components. This trial-and-error stage is crucial when designing medical equipment because reliability is essential to ensure patient safety.
- Compliance and regulation: Medical equipment must meet regulatory standards. PCB design software assists in meeting these regulations by enabling designers to track changes and implement design best practices that align with industry standards.
- Cost efficiency: Efficient PCB design software, such as the software we offer here at DesignSpark, streamlines design and manufacturing processes, reducing development costs. This is important in the medical sector, where cost-effective solutions contribute to accessible healthcare technologies.
Why choose DesignSpark's PCB service for medical devices?
We can help you create the PCB you need for the project you're working on. Our PCB designs are flexible and can be adapted to suit the application.
- A selection of plans: There are three subscription plans available for you to choose from, each created to meet different needs. You might find that our Explorer plan, which is our free level, provides all the unlimited schematic sheets and PCB layers you need.
Our two paid plans offer additional features. Creator offers an integrated SnapEDA CAD library and advanced DRC checks. Engineer is our highest-tier plan that includes extra features such as IPC-2581 output, copper coverage report, and hierarchical schematic designs.
- No size limit: No matter what plan you choose, you can create a PCB to the specifications you need. There are no size limits, so no matter the dimensions, DesignSpark PCB can accommodate you.
- Easy to follow: Creating your own PCB is a straightforward process with us. Simply select the plan you want and use our video tutorials to follow the steps. If you have questions, speak to our experts for help.
Login or register today to begin creating PCBs with DesignSpark.