An Innovative Design for Wearable Medical Devices

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Electronic gadgets are quickly becoming a second skin for humans. Just like a temporary tattoo, wearable medical devices and sensors can be applied directly to the skin to monitor people’s health while they perform their daily activities.

While the progress of wireless technologies and antennas have helped fuel this technology, not all antenna designs offer the flexibility required for use in wearable medical devices.

Consider conventional patch antennas, for instance. At the top layer of the substrate, these antennas have a solid metal ground plane and a metal sheet. If the structure of the antenna was bent, the solid metal sheet would deform, which would in turn disrupt the resonance frequency of the antenna.

With an interest in using microstrip antennas for wearable medical devices—more specifically, epidermal electronic devices—a team of researchers at a Pennsylvania-based university proposed an innovative design idea. Instead of a solid metal sheet, a patterned metal sheet would be used to allow for the bending of the microstrip antenna and generate only small changes in frequency.

Optimizing Antenna Designs for Wearable Medical Devices

When it came to the metal fabrication of the flexible microstrip antenna, the university’s researchers turned to Switzer for help.

The challenge for our team was to etch an antenna that created a conductive, electromagnetic field with features only slightly larger than the material thickness at .003” against the substrate. The ground plane needed to be as flexible as possible to ensure the proper functionality of the antenna in wearable medical devices.

For trial purposes, both pieces of the set (lead in/lead out) were made from the same sheet. While the first run went well, the second order removed subsequent difficulties and delivered much more successful results.

With these tests complete, our team presented two options for processing these metal parts to best fit the needs of the client.

Let Switzer Advance Your Wearable Medical Devices

As the demand behind wearable medical devices increases, so does the need to advance their design. With Switzer’s years of experience and precise metal fabrication techniques like chemical etching, you have the necessary resources to bring your new ideas and designs to life.

Interested in learning more about how chemical etching can benefit metal part fabrication? Download our free ebook, 3 Ways Chemical Etching Improves Your Metal Parts.

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