Medical PCB Design: Not Just Another High-Rel Board


Reading time ( words)

Some of the coolest new electronic products have come courtesy of the medical market. I wanted to find out more about this fast-growing segment, so I contacted Kenneth MacCallum, an engineering physicist with StarFish Medical. StarFish is a medical device design company that’s created some major electronic medical innovations, and they’re about as cutting-edge as you can get.

I asked Kenneth to talk about the medical electronics industry, medical PCB design, and some of the unique challenges that technologists face in this fascinating market. Plus, what does digital health mean for electronics designers? 

Andy Shaughnessy: Why don’t you start off by giving us a quick background on StarFish Medical?

Kenneth MacCallum: StarFish is a consulting design engineering firm that specializes in the development of medical devices. Unique for a boutique design firm, we have a full complement of manufacturing services. We work for all sorts of companies, big, little, all across North America and Europe. Many are serial entrepreneurs that have launched and sold medical device start-ups to industry leaders. We work on products as varied as ultrasound systems, lab on a chip, orthopedic surgery assist devices. Digital health is a rapidly growing segment.

Shaughnessy: You’re a principal engineering physicist at StarFish, and you’re involved in PCB design. Tell us about your work there.

MacCallum: I do two things. I’m an engineering physicist and a project manager. That means I’m a technical guy, but I also make sure projects stay on the rails. From a technical standpoint I behave like an engineer. I design PCBs and circuits. The engineering physicist part of me adds basic principles analysis of all sorts of fun stuff including optics, algorithmic processing for ultrasound, or image processing. Like most electrical engineers, I also work on firmware and logic design.

Shaughnessy: How is designing a medical PCB different than designing any other high-reliability board?

MacCallum: Although the medical industry is fairly heavily regulated, designing a medical PCB is not that different than designing for lab equipment or a consumer device. There are still safety standards to meet. The medical standards are more stringent and they span a bit more.

I’ve worked in metrology, general engineering (remotely operated vehicles), and consulting engineering for consumer and dental devices. I’ve seen a bit about what is required for various product sectors, developed products and gone through regulatory hurdles for each. They all have regulatory requirements—especially Europe—but the requirements are generally harmonized around the world. We meet ISO 60601 for medical and ISO 61010 for laboratory equipment. These are standards we must comply to or we can’t sell in the various markets. 

To read this entire article, which appeared in the January 2016 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.

Share


Suggested Items

Altium Designer 18 Introduced at AltiumLive 2017

10/12/2017 | Barry Matties, Publisher, I-Connect007
At the recent AltiumLive 2017 event in San Diego, I sat down for an interview with Dan Fernsebner, Altium’s global head of technical marketing. Dan discussed the upcoming release of Altium Designer 18, as well as the company’s corporate responsibility for giving back to the industry and bringing more young people into EDA. The event featured speakers such as Happy Holden, Dan Beeker, Charles Pfeil, and Tara Dunn, as well as a robot team competition.

SnapEDA: Recruiting Top Engineering Talent in an Amazon World

05/31/2017 | Andy Shaughnessy, PCBDesign007
You don’t have to love EDA to work at SnapEDA, but it helps. This startup, founded by Natasha Baker, is on its way to creating the world’s largest parts library for PCB designers. Baker leads a small team of young, fiercely talented engineers—the kind of employees that are attractive to companies like Google and Facebook. I asked Natasha to explain her hiring process, and how she ensures that each employee is the right fit for SnapEDA.

Steve Robinson Discusses APCT’s Tenfold Expansion

05/24/2017 | Andy Shaughnessy, PCBDesign007
Steve Robinson, CEO of APCT, a PCB fabricator in Silicon Valley, has led the company to impressive growth since he acquired it nearly 10 years ago. I ran into Steve at DesignCon 2017, and we sat down to discuss the company’s remarkable transformation and his focus on working with PCB designers and engineers to create advanced, high-speed PCBs.



Copyright © 2017 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.