Case Study: Improved Patient Comfort and Cost Effectiveness for Medical Equipment

POLYFORM® Polyurethane Foam Used for Cushion Component of Heart Monitoring Device

In addition to the electronic functions of medical equipment, patient comfort is also a concern when designing a device for home use. Polymer Technologies worked with a medical manufacturer of a heart monitoring device that consisted of two components: a device placed inside the patient’s heart, and the foam cushion containing electronics that read the information from the device. Because the patient needed to lie down on the foam cushion, the client came to Polymer in order to perfect its design in terms of both comfort and cost-effectiveness when developing a new and improved generation of the product.

Molded Foam Cushion for Medical Device

Summary of Final Results

  • A custom foam solution was formulated to match the manufacturer's comfort goals
  • Fabric shield prevented electromagnetic interference from hindering the device's functioning
  • Polymer collaborated with the customer for 2+ years until the product was ready to go to market
  • The solution was more competitive in price than the previous supplier's while better meeting requirements

The Challenge: Updating the Foam Cushion Component

The customer contacted Polymer because they were working on launching the second generation of their product. They were not satisfied with the foam used in the first generation’s cushion and wanted to use a more cost effective material.

The design of the customer’s product was made for comfort by encasing the electronics inside the foam cushion rather than exposing them. In keeping with the design goal, they wanted the foam to be firm enough for a patient to lie down on comfortably. The foam cushion consisted of three parts: a bottom, a top, and a pillow.

Additionally, the customer needed a way to block electromagnetic interference from hindering the function of the electronics inside the foam.

The Solution: PLDM-HR Polyurethane Foam and EMI RFI Shielding Material

PLDM-HR Polyurethane Foam for Comfort

The customer had a particular firmness in mind that would be just right for comfort, and they wanted to use molded urethane. They specified the desired firmness according to the Indentation Force Deflection (IFD) standard, and Polymer sent them a few sample formulations that fit the specifications. The customer then chose the formulation that they felt best suited their needs, which was POLYFORM® Low Density Molded—High Resilient (PLDM-HR) polyurethane foam.

EMI RFI Shielding Material

While the POLYFORM® foam cushion solved the issue of patient comfort, there was still a risk of electromagnetic interference preventing the device from functioning properly.

The customer required an addition to the design that would stop this problem; therefore, Polymer created a fabric shield assembled on the back of the cushion.

The electronic components of the medical equipment required rigorous testing before the product could go on the market. Polymer worked with the customer over a period of two years during this process.

Final Result: Superior Noise Reduction and Increased Patient Comfort

Polymer’s solution was more comfortable and also less expensive while better meeting the quality requirements. Polymer also offered a more competitive price than the first generation’s supplier.

The second generation of the device will hit the market with improvements provided by Polymer’s molded solution. Most importantly, the patients will be able to benefit from the heart-monitoring data collected by the electronics as well as comfort while using the device.

Think Forward with Molded Foam Products for Medical Devices

When designers consider molded foam products at the onset of a project, OEMs can design simplified assembly processes that increase noise reduction, improve assembly time, and reduce the number of parts required. From developing insulation for medical pumps and motors to improving comfort, molded foam is suitable for use in a variety of mid to high volume manufacturing processes. If the possibilities of a molded solution excite you, then be bold and develop your own custom mold with us, the experts at PTI.

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