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September 2015

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COMPAMED 2015: The medical technology miniaturizing trend continues – suppliers offer solutions for various applications

Reality in the future? Nano-robots as a medical transport unit for penetrating into tumors

“The success of COMPAMED, International Trade Fair - High tech solutions for medical technology - can be explained as the result of closely integrating development processes on the part of the suppliers as well as on the part of their customers,” said Joachim Schäfer, Managing Director of Messe Düsseldorf, explaining why, in addition to visiting the world’s largest medical trade fair, MEDICA, also visiting the internationally leading trade fair for the supplier market of medical technology offers an opportunity to see current and future trends in medical technology innovations. Always scoring top annual results in reference to the number of exhibitors and visitors, COMPAMED has long since developed into the leading international marketing communication platform for suppliers of the medical technology industry. For the first time, COMPAMED will be held on the same days as MEDICA, - from November 16 – 19, 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Until now, COMPAMED has always ended a day earlier than MEDICA. Starting this year, both events will also be held on new days: from Monday to Thursday.

The extra day for meetings with customers from the medical technology industry, namely the about 4,500 MEDICA exhibitors, will be beneficial for the more than 700 exhibitors at COMPAMED (in trade fair halls 8a and 8b). This is because the market for medical technology and medical products is very dynamic. The innovation cycle is considerably shorter than in other industries. In the process, the development competence of the suppliers is often the point of origin for ground-breaking innovations with regard to efficient and effective medical care.

This also applies to further increases in the level of miniaturization. An extraordinary example, which brings science fiction to mind, entails nano-robots in the bloodstream that autonomously carry out operations. Corresponding with these ideas, the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Intelligent Systems (Stuttgart, Germany) has developed two different micro-swimmers. Thereby, on the one hand, it has to do with a type of clam that moves forward by opening and closing as well as a screw that moves forward by means of rotation. Its diameter is only 100 nanometers; its length 400 nanometers. A rotating magnetic field that is applied externally sets the mini-screw into motion. The manufacturing process for the special swimmers is 3D printing, which is increasingly gaining in significance for a wide variety of applications at the COMPAMED. All materials used, such as polydimethylsiloxane, are biocompatible and body compatible. Researchers imagine that, one day, nano-robots will introduce tumor therapeutic agents directly into the tumor. “Theoretically, at the size of our construction, application within the cell would be conceivable,” explained Peer Fischer, head of the working group Micro-, Nano- and Molecular systems at MPI for Intelligent Systems. In any case, the mini devices should contribute to making interventions minimally invasive, improve their effectiveness and shorten the times spans required for such interventions. However, it might some years until this science fiction becomes a reality.

Small but impressive and with the highest level of precision
In the meantime, many “mini” solutions have now already become a reality since the demand for increasingly smaller systems remains constant in the field of medical technology. “The life-science industry is showing an increased demand for the miniaturization, micro-structuring and an integration of optical and electrical functions in inexpensive components,” confirmed Peter Kirkegaard, CEO of IMT Masken und Teilungen AG from Switzerland. IMT addresses this need using manufacturing technologies deriving from the semiconductor industry. Based upon glass, the company manufactures micro-channels, clearance holes, electrodes, optical and electrical coatings, waveguides and grating – the smallest structures have tiny dimensions down to only 150 nanometers. Their fields of application include lab-on-a-chip systems, among others. Micreon GmbH also acts as a contract manufacturer – the company is among the world-renowned specialists for micro processing, using ultrashort pulse lasers within the pico and femto range. The laser is playing an increasingly important role in manufacturing medical implants, instruments or measurement devices in the field of medical technology. Since the highest level of precision and quality is required in the case of medical products, especially for the ultrashort pulse laser technique, an increasing number of application possibilities are arising. One example are the vessel wall supports (stents) made from organic materials. Since the bio-resorbable polymers are very sensitive to temperature, the femtosecond laser is the only tool used for manufacturing refined and structured components without any damage.

Record participation at the IVAM joint stand
IMT und Micreon will be represented along with another 50 exhibitors at the joint stand of the IVAM professional association for micro-technology, which will once again be a focus for microsystem technology, nanotechnologies, production technology and process control in hall 8a at COMPAMED 2015. “This is a new record. Our floor space comprises almost 7,500 square feet,” explained Mona Okroy-Hellweg, Speaker for the IVAM. This year, the professional association is also organizing the COMPAMED HIGH-TECH FORUM (hall 8a). Together with the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland, one symposium will deal with the topic that is gaining an increasingly important role, also in the field of medical technology: Printed electronics. In addition, the topic of this year’s spring forum “Lasers – Optics – Photonics” will be the focus during a symposium. “Since many sensor manufacturers are represented at our stand, we additionally work on a session with the theme “Smart Sensor Solutions,” said Mona Okroy-Hellweg.

The COMPAMED SUPPLIERS FORUM will again take place concurrently in hall 8b, organized by the trade magazine DeviceMed. The focus of numerous presentations by specialist from internationally leading companies will be on current developments along the entire process chain. “On all four days of the trade fair, exhibitors will provide information on technical innovations and further topics within the scope of the interplay between manufacturers, suppliers and physicians or users. Beginning with innovative materials as a basis of many new technical innovations to the user-centered design of medical technological applications according to IEC 62366 and miniaturization system, the entire process chain is represented, all the way to the topics of packaging, market access and approval,” commented Peter Reinhardt, Editor in Chief at DeviceMed. New this year will be presentations on delivery performance in the fields of medical technology, including presenting tools and parameters for improved performance. The “Innovation Guide”, initiated by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, will also be a topic. It accompanies innovation processes step by step along the individual stages of innovation, research – development – certification – reimbursement – market. The program will be complemented by practical instructions on how to protect innovations as well as on IT security.

High-tech for three-dimensional images of tissue structures
Another current trend are optical techniques for improved diagnostics. In a joint effort since April 2015, the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nanosystems ENAS, the German company EDC Electronic Design Chemnitz GmbH and the Canadian company Preciseley Microtechnology Corporation, have developed a micro-opto-electro-mechanical system (MOEMS) for optical coherence tomography (OCT). The predicted solution should make high-resolution in-vivo OCT diagnostics possible. When miniaturizing the design, increasing the precision of the OCT method can only be achieved at the same time by implementing integrated piezoelectric sensors and an application specific integrated regulation circuit. This way it is possible to integrate high-precision coherence tomographic images into an endoscope and obtain non-invasive three-dimensional images of tissues structures. OCT is used in a variety of medical fields, such as ophthalmology for example. The condition and possible diseases of the retina can be detected by means of non-invasive OCT examinations. Using OCT, it is possible to obtain three-dimensional images of the composition of the tissue structures. Compared to other techniques, the advantage entails a high level of penetration depth into the tissue with a high level of resolution. In contrast to sonography, OCT is not based on an acoustical method, but on optical interferometry (distance measurement). The joint project has been made possible by an initiative of Alberta’s ministry for higher education (EAE) and the Federal Ministry for Economy and Technology (BMWI).

Coatings that can kill off bacteria
A “never-ending hot topic” at COMPAMED is coatings, especially those with antimicrobial action. Biofilms on catheters can lead to infection in patients. Therefore, in the U.S. already two thirds of all catheters on the market have antimicrobial coatings and/or antithrombogenic coatings. Even if different legislation prevails in Europe, in the meanwhile, such catheters are also used here. Using the so-called “non-leaching method” the supplier, Cikautxo, located in northern Spain, has developed catheters with a surface treated with a substance that kills off bacteria the moment bacteria comes into proximity of it. Using this method, no substances are released into the vascular system so that no side effects result. Cikautxo works with an antimicrobial coating made of polymers and their antithrombogenic effect, which is based on heparin.

The upcoming COMPAMED will give a broad overview of the entire range of medical technology suppliers. Products range from tiny sensors all the way to packaging machines that fill entire rooms, from innovative materials to refined microsystems, from mobile diagnostic devices all the way to electronic manufacturing services (EMS). In the future, 3D printing should also become a focus at COMPAMED. According to a survey by DeviceMed, 31% of the companies already rely on the innovative method and 35% are planning to use it in the foreseeable future. Only one third of the approximately 80 companies do not currently see any possibilities for its application.

Information about COMPAMED 2015 exhibitors, products and services as well as the integrated forum programs is available online at

Author: Klaus Jopp, freelance technical writer for science and technology (Hamburg, Germany)

Messe Dusseldorf North America Located at 150 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2920, Chicago, IL. Phone: 312-781-5180. .