Tiny Components for Implanted Medical Devices

TT Electronics talks tiny coils — some just a fraction of the size of a human hair — at this month’s Design & Manufacturing Show.

U.K.-based TT Electronics acquired Brooklyn Center, Minn.-based Precision because of the company’s expertise in very small design, simulation and manufacturing.

Precision, which does 50 percent of its business in medical implantables like pacemakers and neuromodulators, creates components that power these sensor-enabled implants — think preventative maintenance, but for the body.

At the show, I met with business development manager Shahab Shahbaz to talk about how TT manufactures these tiny coils that allow implants to conductively power-on, and provide additional power that helps transmit data.

According to Shahbaz, the company makes the custom instrumentation that they use to handle and wind very fine wire. One metal core Shahbaz showed me had 2,200 turns of 58 AWG wire — that's about a tenth the size of the human hair.

I was curious as to why they had to be so small, but some of these implants go into your eye to treat glaucoma, or into your brain to treat epilepsy.

As for future applications, Shahbaz noted new work on an implant that helps treat sleep apnea and a neuromodulation implant that may help treat drug addiction.

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