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SMT & Inspection | July 22, 2008

Medical market stimulate SMT market

Growth Opportunities for SMT Equipment Providers in the North American Medical Device Industry, finds that the market earned revenues of over $1.25 billion in 2007 and estimates this to reach $1.89 billion by 2014.
From the perspective of competition, aspects such as accuracy, parts handling, and speed requirements remain at the forefront, prompting major end users, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and electronic manufacturing services (EMS) providers to offer high-tech solutions. Due to the mission-critical nature of medical devices, these companies direct their core focus toward enhancing quality and sophistication.

"Technology trends like remote patient monitoring and the incorporation of wireless technology in hospitals are expected to offer EMS providers an opportunity to utilize the experience gained from other conventional markets to provide suitable solutions for medical OEMs," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Julian Harris. "An increased supply of SMT equipment will ensue, elevating market growth."

Though the medical device sector holds enormous potential, the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) stringent regulatory standards deter many EMS companies from entering the market, which leads to a decline in overall machine sales. However, by increasing end-user need to comply with certifications such as ISO 13485 can help reverse the trend and accelerate demand for SMT equipment.

To improve their prospects in the medical device segment, SMT equipment manufacturers have to increase customer awareness on FDA regulatory standards and step up research and development initiatives with end users. This enables penetration rates to attain new heights and help market revenue figures climb dramatically.

The decreasing size of medical printed circuit boards (PCBs) remains another challenge for SMT equipment manufacturers. The highly complex nature of new package types and their fine-pitch components push manufacturers to integrate technologically advanced vision systems in their equipment. In order to meet end-user requirements for accurate placement and speed, manufacturers added dual camera heads and optimized illumination features in order to enhance value. These features will go a long way in reducing defects and enhancing the overall performance.

"One primary focus is to modify the feeding capabilities and to correct solder misalignment with technological innovations in order to enhance the operational efficiency of the placement process," notes Harris. "As top-tier placement equipment companies leverage this trend, other market participants will follow suit."

Enhancements to the placement process offer manufacturers an edge, which allows effective customization of equipment as per end-user requirements. Moving forward, manufacturers will provide both technologically innovative machine models as well as service packages to ensure steady revenue growth. Sustained efforts through customer education, improved machine capabilities as well as research and development are required to engender more efficient SMT placement processes and fuel revenue growth for SMT equipment suppliers in the medical market.

Growth Opportunities for SMT Equipment Providers in the North American Medical Device Industry is part of the Surface Mount Technologies Growth Partnership Service program, which also includes research in the following markets: automatic identification, mechanical power transmission, sensors and instrumentation, and surface mount technologies. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.

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