In the table below we discuss that a sensor and/or medical diagnostic can have several manufacturing phases based on considerations such as: is the product fully developed, what volume of devices are required, have any unusual manufacturing steps come through from the development phase that don't scale well?
The Zimmer and Peacock advantage is that we understand the chemistry, the biology, the sensors and the manufacturing, so we will not just take an manufacturable formulation and use it; instead we add value by advising our customers and collaborators how to tweak/reformulate so that they can manufacture at the lowest possible price hence giving them the best possible margin.
Below we describe some thoughts and notes about Low, Medium and High Volume Manufacturing of sensors and medical diagnostics.
In the sections below we also make specific comments on chemical compatibility, as we are often asked to recommend solvents with which to formulate. The perfect base solvent for any product that is to be manufactured is water, as it is: non-toxic, non-flammable, non-hazardous vapours and relatively low cost to both source and dispose of. At Zimmer and Peacock, we also understand the fundamentals of solubility and stability and why water cannot always be the base solvent in a formulation.
Zimmer and Peacock provide a range of manufacturing services around biosensor and medical diagnostics.
For early stage development and very low volume manufacturing our manufacturing can be very manual in practise using techniques such as dip coating, spaying, pipetting, electroplating, electro-polymerization etc. The intention with these low volume manufacturing runs is to produce just tens, maybe a hundred sensors.
The intention here is not to necessarily change the formulation from the research phase, though we may have to when progressing to medium and high volume manufacturing.
When our clients require sensors in the hundreds and thousands then Zimmer and Peacock will recommend that we replace the manual effort in the low volume manufacturing with our medium volume manufacturing technology, which at the simplest concept is to replace the operator with a robot. The advantage is of course the speed/through-put, the accuracy and the reproducibility of process. Finally unlike screen printing no masks/screens are required.
Below we have a table of chemical compatibility.
Note MEK, methyl ethyl ketone/butanone.
Note solvents that we are only partially compatible can be used it means that our through put is slower as we have to put rinse steps into the cleaning process.
When our clients require sensors in the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of sensors then our clients and customers want the economic benefits of scale so Zimmer and Peacock will recommend flat-bed and reel-to-reel printing.
DEK248 and Ekra M3
Zimmer and Peacock are a creative team and so we can achieve High Volume Manufacturing by potentially running two Medium Volume Manufacturing lines in parallel, but we will sit down with clients and work out the timelines and economics of various strategies.
The carrier solvents that are frequently used include: water, ethanol, methanol, aqueous based, MEK (butanone), IPA (isopropyl alcohol and dichloromethane.
At these higher volumes, the aqueous based solvents are most preferred as the storage of solvents and the disposal of waste streams can become an issue when increasing production scale.