As we begin a new year, it’s time to look ahead to the future of the healthcare products industry and the role Parylene conformal coating is likely to play in it. Since its commercialization in 1965, Parylene has become a widely used coating for medical devices. Parylene provides dry lubricity, waterproofing, and protection of electronic components from moisture or physical damage—and many of these advantages are especially critical for the growing market of wearable medical devices.
Read on to take a look at the future of wearable medical devices, including fitness trackers, smart eyewear, hearable, and wearable robotics—and discover the role Parylene medical device coating can play in protecting and enhancing the functionality of the newest cutting-edge devices in the wearables market.
Examining the Role of Parylene in Wearable Medical Device Coating
As a conformal coating, Parylene has always provided many benefits to medical devices, wearable and otherwise, though until today many medical device manufacturers have found it difficult to take full advantage of Parylene. The advantages of Parylene coating for medical devices include:
- Biocompatibility, limiting the risk that a wearable medical device that makes contact with the user’s bare skin will cause adverse reactions or sensitivities
- Thin and lightweight conformal coating, minimizing device size and weight for user comfort and device functionality
- Uniform and pinhole-free coatings that ensure consistent protection across a wearable device’s entire surface
- Moisture barriers and chemical resistance to protect wearable devices extremely effectively from environmental hazards in their daily use
- Dielectric insulation for electronic components, preventing electrical malfunctions
- Temperature and UV stability, protecting wearable devices in all weather conditions
Parylene conformal coatings also maintain their protective integrity over time and under chemical stress, making them ideal for wearable medical devices that may experience bending or flexing during use.
A Brief Look at Growth in the Wearable Medical Device Market
From activity monitors and smartwatches to wearable defibrillators, drug delivery services, and hearing aids, wearable medical devices are becoming more and more widely used, with applications including audiology, health science, kinesiology, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and physical therapy.
According to Fortune Business Insights™, rising health consciousness among people is driving a massive increase in the growth of the wearable medical device market between 2023 and 2030. The market is projected to grow from $73.77 billion to $428.92 billion.
Parylene Coating for Medical Devices in the Future
With this level of anticipated growth, it should come as no surprise that 2024 and onward are shaping up to be big years for players in the wearable medical device industry, and access to Parylene conformal coating technology could be exactly the competitive edge your products need to make it in a booming market.
Now let’s dive into some of the trends in this growing market we’re keeping an eye on for 2024 and beyond and examine the role Parylene medical device coating could play in making these products more effective, long-lived, and user-friendly.
Fitbits and Apple Watches are household names in wearable medical devices—in fact, they’re probably the first thing consumers think about when you ask them about wearables. Expert Market Research predicts that in the coming years, the wearable fitness tracker market will only continue to rise as the technology becomes more efficient and better at providing its users with actionable insights into their health and well-being.
Taking advantage of improved access to Parylene conformal coating, manufacturers of fitness trackers reduce the risk of electrical malfunctions, ensure overall reliability, and enhance user comfort. With Parylene medical device coatings, manufacturers can prevent electrical components from being damaged by water and sweat and protect the device housing from abrasion.
With a thin and lightweight Parylene conformal coating, fitness trackers also benefit from UV stability that protects them from sunlight during outdoor activities.
An interesting and growing segment of wearable medical devices is hearables—audio-focused wearable devices that can be used to both enhance communication and monitor health. Hearable include devices like smart hearing aids, ear-level monitoring devices, and communication aids.
Future trends in this segment of the market could include more personalized healthcare solutions for users with hearing aids, improving accessibility and providing more innovative treatment solutions for auditory conditions.
For hearables, choosing the right biocompatible protective coating is especially important. Parylene does not just protect the device from abrasion, moisture, and substances like earwax, but also protects the user. Due to its biocompatibility, Parylene coating reduces the risk of skin irritation or allergic reactions for users wearing the devices for extended periods.
Parylene conformal coating can also provide acoustic insulation and enhance hearable medical devices’ noise reduction capabilities.
Market analysts predict that in the future, smart eyewear will be as trendy and important as regular eyewear, with the market expected to reach $10.6 billion by 2024. While smart glasses are not strictly for medical use, they stand as a potential game-changer in the medical field.
By opening up AR and VR to doctors and patients, smart eyewear can revolutionize healthcare. Smart eyewear can connect doctors to the information they need to make informed care decisions while leaving their hands free for work. With smart glasses, doctors can provide remote care for patients or training for junior medical professionals. These are just a few of the ways smart eyewear can make a splash in the wearable medical device market and the healthcare industry as a whole.
Parylene conformal coating is optically transparent and extremely thin, making it especially useful for the lenses and frames of smart glasses and goggles. A Parylene coating on these medical devices preserves optical clarity while shielding lenses from dust, dirt, and moisture and providing long-term resistance to yellowing and visual distortions.
Though they’ve long been the stuff of science fiction, wearable robotics present an exciting branch of wearable medical devices—and one that’s picking up steam as technology evolves. While full-scale exosuits are likely a long way off, on a smaller scale, wearable robotics can assist in providing mobility for individuals with paralysis or other physical disabilities, and in the coming years could become indispensable for medical rehabilitation, therapy, and assisted living.
A Parylene coating for these medical devices adds minimal bulk and weight to wearable robotics, improving durability under mechanical stress and ensuring user comfort. Parylene’s properties as a dry lubricant also reduce friction on moving parts, enhancing both efficiency and longevity.
Epidermal technology is a form of wearable medical device that connects thin, flexible, and stretchable electronics to a user’s skin to monitor their health. Epidermal technology is being investigated as a more efficient and comfortable way to perform vital signs monitoring, electrocardiography, electromyography, glucose monitoring for diabetic individuals, and even sleep monitoring or stress and fatigue detection.
Parylene coating these medical devices retains the flexibility of the electronics in epidermal technology while protecting them from moisture and abrasion and improving user comfort.
Choosing the Right Medical Device Coating Companies in 2024
The coming years are likely to be a boom time for many new and innovative solutions in wearable medical devices, and Parylene coating these medical devices can provide the edge in user comfort, longevity, and effectiveness you need to carve out your niche in a growing market.
For decades since its introduction, Parylene coating for medical devices was an expensive, cumbersome procedure—not easily accessible for the manufacturers who stood to benefit from it the most.
Among medical device coating companies, VSi Parylene stands out with a unique solution to provide cost-effective and convenient access to Parylene conformal coating. Through providing both coating-as-a-service from our facility and in-house Parylene coating equipment for your facility, we offer flexible, transparent solutions to medical device coating that fit your business model.
To learn more about how cost-effective, efficient Parylene medical device coating can transform your wearable medical device products, contact our engineers today.