Micro-fabricated devices are finding their way to the frontend of medical equipment, where they are the interface between body, or in general living tissue, and machine. They enable better and cheaper diagnostic equipment, they add ”eyes and ears” to minimally invasive instruments such as laparoscopic instruments and catheters, they allow for un-obtrusive monitoring of body functions, they add functionality to implants, and they enable the development of better and personalized medicines.
Despite their great promise it has been proven difficult to bring these devices out of the laboratory phase into production. One of the reasons is the lack of a suitable fabrication infrastructure. Much more than standard CMOS or MEMS devices, these medical devices rely on the processing of novel materials, especially polymers, in combination with advanced molding, micro-fluidics, and assembly technologies. At the same time these devices have to be fabricated under strict quality control conditions in a certified production environment.
In the recently granted ECSEL project “InForMed” a supply chain for the pilot fabrication of these medical devices is organized, which brings together key European technology partners in an integrated infrastructure linking research to pilot and high volume production. The pilot line is hosted by Philips Innovation Services, and open to third party users.
Ronald Dekker received his MSc in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Eindhoven and his PhD from the Technical University of Delft. He joined Philips Research in 1988 where he worked on the development of RF technologies for mobile communication. Since 2000 his focus shifted to the integration of complex electronic sensor functionality on the tip of the smallest minimal invasive instruments such as catheters and guide-wires. In 2007 he was appointed part time professor at the Technical University of Delft with a focus on Organ-on-Chip devices. He published in leading Journals and conferences and holds in excess of 50 patents.