micro parts to market... faster

Increase the Magnification on Your Smart Phone Camera

2/24/16    What a creative product!  We, as engineers creating micro molded parts and features, will be thrilled to take a photo with our phone and send it directly to our medical or drug delivery device customers instantly.  Tiny connectors, antennas, capsules, cannulas, insert micro molded drug delivery devices all have extremely small features, very difficult to capture in magnification mode on a phone.  With many markets going smaller and smaller, it’s much easier to take the photo with your phone in your back pocket than to setup a tripod, pull the USB out, run to our computers, chop, crop, and julienne the photo and email it.  For production scale parts and features requiring macro photography, visit our page showing some intensely tiny implants, delivery devices, thin-walled electronics, and connectors at https://www.microengineeringsolutions.com/mes_service/micro-molding/.

A lens has been developed that you put over your smart phone camera lens and it increases its magnification! It is an adhesive add-on lens that offers 15X optical magnification.

It is only 1/4 inch (6 mm) in diameter and is basically a tiny sticker that goes right over your camera’s lens. It is washable, removable and reusable, so you don’t have to lock it onto one specific smartphone or tablet.

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The lens is made using platinum catalyzed silicone technology (soft plastic instead of glass). This makes it flexible and scratch-resistant and according to the maker of this product, Thomas Larson, is optically identical to glass.

The lens is able to achieve a magnification of 15X, but it can achieve higher magnification in the order of 60X with the assistance of the smartphone or tablet’s digital zooming capability. Larson recommends using it with a 5 megapixel cell phone camera as a minimum.

Future plans are to bring a 150X version of the lens to market! Micro technology has found its way into many fields and is making our lives more enjoyable.

 

Micro Intraocular Implants and Devices Material Selection

2/16/16     When designing and fabricating micro molded devices and implants for the human eye, the physical characteristics and material consistency of the components of the eye are critical to understand. Understanding the body’s reaction to polymeric implants is complex. Not only is the natural response affected by the chemical properties of the polymer but also by the physical properties of the implant. Development of an ophthalmologic drug delivery device requires design criteria compatible with the delicate nature of the eye, including proper materials, size, shape and porosity.

Some materials, although tested for bio-compatibility, may still cause inflammation and immune-responses leading to long term effects on the eye. It is advantageous for safety, regulatory robustness and speed, to market reasons to select not only a predicate material (PMMA, silicone), but also the predicate grade used in an intraocular application. Families of materials vary greatly from grade to grade in terms of both physical and chemical properties. For example, leachables and extractables over time can vary greatly with different grades of silicone and PMMA and these factors are critical to long term implant and device safety and efficacy. Additional material selection consideration include materials that are slippery, flexible, and non-hydroscopic for compliance adherence.

Ophthalmologic implants or devices must be very small and pliable to fit into the sections of the eye. For example, a glaucoma drain must fit into the sclera which is from 0.3-1.0mm thick. A part’s thickness and size is dependent on the ocular area and location of the implant, but also chosen on the melt flow of the materials.

Implants within the wall of the sclera are radial in nature to rest within the semi-circular outer wall of the eye. Glaucoma is a result of the increased fluid pressure in the eye due to the reduction or blockage of fluid from the anterior to posterior chambers. Devices such as these are possible using micro-injection molding and micro-automation.

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A pupil expander device has micro features and surface finishes which are necessary to fit comfortably in the eye and provide tensile strength with fine alignment and mechanical strength to hold them in place.

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A delivery device that sits on the cornea – it’s a thin membrane-like, silicone structure with radial design, and a 50 micron wall thickness to fit inside the upper eyelid. The cornea has 5-6 payers varying from 2-20 microns in thickness, made up of highly sensitive pain receptors. Cornea pain receptor density is up to 600 times that of skin, which is why even a slight injury to the eye is extremely painful.

In micro molding ocular implants and devices, parting lines where the mold’s halves come together, and surface finish of the molds that create the molded parts, must meet stringent comfort standards required for them to be worn or implanted. The implications for compliance are clear. Surface finish, blending parting lines, spherical radii, and matching cores and cavities to ultra-precision tolerances (A2 or A1 finishes) are the keys to creating implants that can stand the test of time in an intraocular environment.

In the context of an ocular implant, smooth materials can have very different tissue and nerve responses compared with micro-structured materials. Tissue encapsulation of a foreign body (such as the implant) is higher with rougher surfaces because there is more surface area for the implant to attach to tissue. Nerve response to surface finish needs to be considered in implant design. Wear or degradation of a rough surface is more prevalent as well because the smaller porous particles in the surface can be toxic to tissue, can spread throughout the eye, and also trigger an allergic reaction.

The anatomy and physiology of the ye is one of the most complex and unique systems in the human body. Micro molding is a scalable process with particular design criteria met, including proper size, three-dimensional shape, wall thickness, material selection and surface finish.

Micro injection molding is a viable and scalable process for fabricating ultra-precise, micro-sized, ultra-thin, yet robust implants and devices located in a highly complex environment such as the eye.

Scalability (as discussed in our 2/69/16 blog) is an important consideration at the initial product and process design phase in order to achieve the economies of scale – tens to hundreds of thousands of parts, to millions annually – that micro molding offers.

Careful consideration of surface finish, feature size and material selection is paramount to the successful integration of marrying micro molding technology with the internal chambers and inter-connective functions of the eye.

Scalability of Micro Intraocular Implants and Devices

2/9/16     Scaling devices from tens to hundreds of thousands or millions sometimes requires a tightrope balancing act of economies of scale and product and process robustness. Micro molding is a proven, scalable and economical process for thermoplastic micro-intraocular implants and devices. Recent developments and new to market intraocular devices and implants have led to the successful treatment of a number of ophthalmological conditions of varying seriousness and complexity such as:

– Glaucoma
– Cataracts
– Retinal detachment
– Diabetic retinopathy
– Age-related macular degeneration
– Uveitis
– Dry-eye syndrome

micro glaucoma drain
Treatment of these conditions often requires collaboration between ophthalmological surgeons, pharmacologists and micro-specific contract manufacturers. Development of these devices and implants occurs through a large number of highly focused, research-driven specialists (including micro fabrication specialists), such as:
– Small, innovation-support funding programs
– Development companies that easily find a large marketing partner
– Big pharma funding the outsources of the development instead of doing it in-house
To design and build scalable intraocular implants and devices, the design and fabrication plan must include highly precise, micro sized component made from ultra-thin yet strong materials. These materials must be selected and characterized carefully to be robust enough to last for many years in a moist and warm environment.
In order to scale-up a polymer device that may have been born in an academic or laboratory setting, one must first understand the physical characteristics of the eye and how the surgeon will be installing the implant or device. The eye is a complex and sensitive organ with many structures and targets located closely together. These sometimes conflicting structures have significant defense mechanisms (tear film, cornea) that make it difficult for medication to enter. Vitreous fluid is difficult for injected medication to traverse to the posterior of the eye.

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Polypropylene glaucoma drain
When designing and fabricating micro molded devices and implants for the human eye, the physical characteristics and material consistency of the components of the eye are critical to understand.
The anatomy and physiology of the eye is one of the most complex and unique systems in the human body. Many of these components of the eye are gelatinous, flimsy, easily punctured, and sensitive. As a result, the implants and devices that are installed must be free of sharp edges, excess material or flash, and have absolutely pristine surface finishes to help ensure both surgeon and patient compliance. The instruments, however, which cut or slice into various components of the eye to install the implants and devices must be very sharp and precisely made to create correctly sized and shaped incisions. Conversely, the instrument to hold or expand the eye open during surgery must be free from parting lines, flash or sharp edges.
Ophthalmologists are meticulously detailed surgeons with extremely good dexterity and their instruments must match their character traits, as their instruments and implants are considered an extension of meticulously planned and executed procedures. The many layers of the eye require the surgeons to switch quickly and accurately from one instrument to another because of the different surfaces they encounter in the eye.
US baseball star Yogi Berra once stated, “I’d give my right arm to ambidextrous.” But having the ability to switch hands and instruments and use both hands during eye surgery enables quick and precise positioning of instruments and safety and efficacy is maintained with instruments designed for the comfort and use in either hand. This requires a look at not only human factors, but also design-for-manufacturability, as the features and tolerances of the device and wall thickness and aspect ratios approach “design challenges” for a particular material selection.
The anatomy and physiology of the eye is one of the most complex and unique systems in the human body. Micro molding is a scalable process with particular design criteria met, including proper size, three-dimensional shape, wall thickness, material selection and surface finish.

Micro Technology for Targeted Drug Delivery

02/03/16     Harsh drugs often produce powerful side effects, because the potent drug needed to the fight the illness can damage other cells in the body. For example, chemotherapy’s potent drugs used for treating cancer cells also damages other cells like hair follicles. Imagine a targeted drug delivery that only affects the intended area?

Researchers from Ohio State University and the University of Science and Technology of China teamed up to tackle this very problem. They are working on a new way to package two or more drugs into a single micro capsule. These drugs would be non-toxic when injected into the body, then a triggered mixing would produce a toxic product near the intended site in the body.
These micro-sized capsules (100 microns across) funnel different drugs through 2 inner needles. The inner needles run parallel to each other and are both enclosed in a larger outer needle, which contains an ingredient for making the outer shell of the capsule. As all the ingredients exit the needles through a single nozzle, a high-speed gas forces the liquids into a narrow stream that breaks up into individual droplets. An electric field stabilizes the flow so that uniform droplets are created. Depending on the relative flow rates, each droplet may contain two or more smaller inner droplets made from the ingredients in the inner needles.

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Depending on the experimental conditions, the team was able to produce between 1,000 to 100,000 capsules per second, and nearly 100 percent of the inner liquids were incorporated into the capsules without any waste. The key features of the new device are its high efficiency and yield, and the fact that the size of the droplets can be uniformly controlled. By further fine-tuning the device’s operation, the team could make capsules that are 3-5 microns across, about the size of a red blood cell. The process can also be easily scaled up by building an array of nozzles and could be modified to encapsulate 3 or more active ingredients by adding additional inner needles.
This new micro technology might find a wider use in a range of applications that require controlled reactions.