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Five reasons why Chicago will be your kind of town come October

The Medical Design & Manufacturing portfolio of events has its Chicago moment on Oct. 15 and 16, when MD&M Chicago comes to the Schaumburg Convention Center. Showcasing innovations in materials, processing technologies, contract services, and much more specifically for the medical device sector, the exposition is accompanied by conference sessions exploring everything from product design to regulatory matters.

The Medical Design & Manufacturing portfolio of events has its Chicago moment on Oct. 15 and 16, when MD&M Chicago comes to the Schaumburg Convention Center. Showcasing innovations in materials, processing technologies, contract services, and much more specifically for the medical device sector, the exposition is accompanied by conference sessions exploring everything from product design to regulatory matters. There are many reasons to attend, but here are five that immediately come to mind.

MDM Chicago1. The digital health revolution
No one doubts that digital health is a game-changing technology that will reshape the medtech landscape in the years ahead, but there are a few technical issues that need to be worked out before it can achieve its full potential. A session on Oct. 15, "Connecting Digital Health: Improving Interoperability, Security, and Compliance," will explore some of them.

Chaired by Robert Zemke, Director of Healthcare Solutions, Extreme Networks, the morning session will discuss medical device connectivity concerns from a hospital perspective, taking a medical device from wired to wireless, and finding space within a crowded radio frequency environment. Speakers include Bill Betten, Logic PD; Nicholas Abbondante, Intertek; Max Mortensen, Rush Oak Park Hospital; and Ali Youssef, Henry Ford Health System.

2. New developments in 3D printing
A conference session devoted to new strategies, materials, and applications for 3D printing, also on Oct. 15, will provide an update on this fast-moving technology that has been called the new industrial revolution.

Bret Bjerken of Stratasys will discuss materials currently available as well as those in development and assess the state of multi-material 3D printing. Zach Simkin, founder of Senvol, a consultancy dedicated to the business implications of additive manufacturing, will present a strategy for identifying parts that are commercially viable candidates for 3D printing technology. Greg Elfering, 3D Systems, will wrap up the session by explaining how 3D printing is changing the manufacturing paradigm. The session is chaired by Sal Spada of the ARC Advisory Group.

Several suppliers of 3D printing equipment and services will be exhibiting at the event. One that got my attention is Open Source Classroom (booth 549), which offers classes on building advanced open-source 3D printers. R&D engineers appreciate the flexibility of these printers, says the company, because they can be easily modified to experiment with different mechanical setups, materials, and extruders.

3. Small triumphs
Just like consumer electronics, medical devices are shrinking in size but not in performance. "Designing Next Generation Medical Devices," a conference session the morning of Oct. 16, will explore how engineers are finding ever-more ingenious ways to miniaturize life-saving devices. A master in this domain is Medtronic, whose Senior Principal Scientist Todd Zielinski will explain how cross-functional design and manufacturing led to the development of the world's smallest cardiac devices.

Other topics explored at this session include the unique challenges of medical microelectronics and developments in battery power technologies. The session is chaired by Stephen Rapundalo, President and CEO of MichBio, which promotes the biosciences industry in Michigan.

4. Ah, yes, the FDA
Regulatory matters come to the fore the afternoon of Oct. 16, when Jim Shore, who serves on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Quality, and John Freije, Freije Quality Engineering, team up to offer tips on preparing an effective response to FDA warning letters. They will also inform attendees of mistakes to avoid during an FDA inspection and will speak to the finer points of drafting a supplier quality agreement.

5. Material matters

Polymers used in medical applications are the focus of a session on Oct. 16, chaired by Tom Ryder, CEO, Genesis. Dennis Jamiolkowski, Ethicon, will address polymer properties that need to be taken into consideration when designing and manufacturing resorbable medical devices. Stephen Spiegelberg, President, Cambridge Polymer Group, will speak to failure analysis of medical plastics, followed by Rob Bodor, CTO, Protolabs, who will offer some handy design tips for injection molding.

Meanwhile, the show floor is teeming with suppliers of medical plastics and molding services, and you won't find a better opportunity to meet with them in a one-stop setting. See who will be there by going to the exhibitors page on the MD&M Chicago website and selecting the keywords medical plastics in the drop-down menu. You will be suitably impressed.

Norbert Sparrow

Norbert Sparrow is Senior Editor at PlasticsToday. Follow him on twitter @norbertcsparrow and Google+.

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