people in Germany work in the health sector.
Medical technology ensures good health and quality of life
Medical technology serves us through all stages of life – from birth to old age. Digitalization will drive this trend even further. On the one hand, more and more data is readily available to the doctor. On the other hand, the patients themselves gather an increasing amount of information on their health.
At the same time, patients can potentially contribute their own data to the conversation. Examples include the above-mentioned smartphone app during pregnancy or the recording of body data via wearables such as fitness trackers.
This leads us to the other aspect mentioned: big data in medicine. Big data and algorithms can improve health and quality of life. Here, large amounts of heterogeneous data are linked in different application scenarios. Big data analyses aim at the better use of resources, more cost-efficient treatments and individually tailored treatments. Even if the topic will continue to gain significance in the future, big data has long become a part of everyday life for the general public.
With the Google Flu Trends project, for example, Google tried predicting the spread of flu outbreaks in different countries based on search queries about flu symptoms. Another interesting project is the “Íslendingabók” database. It contains the genealogical data of about one-half of the inhabitants of Iceland, dating back more than 1,200 years.
Particularly in cancer research, big data promises considerable added value for doctors and patients. When three of four chemotherapies do not have the desired results, big data can help finding the right, patient-specific treatment within minutes.
A child is born and only a few minutes later the joyful occasion is confirmed with three figures: weight, body length and head circumference. However, these are not the first figures that evaluate and describe the newborn. Data collection starts long before birth – with the first independent sign of life in the mother’s womb. Parents can start documenting the pregnancy themselves using a smartphone and app. They gather information on the condition of the unborn child that they later evaluate with their gynecologist.
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The early stages of life
Shortly after birth, the baby will sleep in a crib for the first time. This crib needs to comply with strict safety standards. Therefore, cribs are tested by using modern testing technology and then certified.
A few days later the baby experiences its first car ride – in a child seat that is also certified. Soon our little passenger starts crying loudly because three hours have passed since the last meal. An infant makes us aware of another measurement value that is with us through our entire lives: time. Without precise measuring technology, it would be impossible to clock our lives.
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Injection molding makes it possible
Modern bicycle helmets are lighter, safer, affordable for everyone and available worldwide – all thanks to toolmaking.
Quality of life thanks to toolmaking
A modern world without toolmaking is hard to imagine. After all, almost all areas of human life benefit from the ability to produce large series of identical parts in a mold. Like bicycle helmets, sterile syringes would also be highly expensive luxury objects without toolmaking. This also applies for affordable furniture series with countless identical tables and chairs. In addition, the effort in repairing engines and clocks would be unjustifiable since there would be no suitable spare parts.
Mother of products
Still, the two sub-sectors of tool and mold making mostly fly under the radar of public attention – and unjustly so! Almost everything in our daily surrounding is produced using forming tools and molds. These tools largely consist of steel, are operated by machines and map the entire outer geometry of the product or its individual parts. Be it a toothbrush that is shaped from a molten plastic granulate in a complicated injection mold tool together with millions of identical toothbrushes, the thousands of identical vehicle bodies shaped and punched out of a sheet of metal or door handles, bicycle helmets, spoons, pens, computer keyboards, door hinges, thermos bottles or disposable syringes – tool and mold making are always used to develop the product.
Careers in toolmaking
Toolmaking: exciting tasks and state-of-the art technology
Versatile, diversified and always linked to interesting tasks, training in toolmaking is a good and future-proof profession. Four trainees introduce their working area.
Injection molding makes it possibleREAD MORE
Further applications of micro pumps
The trend towards miniaturization goes beyond insulin pumps. Other areas of medical technology that require highly accurate and precise dosing also follow this trend. Here, micro pumps are used in infusion systems, for pain management or for medication dosing for implants. Following the “smaller, lighter and better portable” motto, micro pumps set in motion and gases in various applications.
In the past, this full freedom was only granted to healthy children. Today, a small insulin pump enables children with serious diseases, such as diabetes, to play with other children. It constantly monitors the blood sugar level and always releases the necessary amount of insulin.
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Dr. Axel WilleFraunhofer Research Institution for Microsystems and Solid State Technologies EMFT, Microdosing Systems
“Increasing miniaturization of micro pumps also enables new applications in medical technology. The space savings and lower price not only allow for disposables but also for smaller patch pumps or even implantable pumps.”
Textiles with intelligent functions are called smart textiles. They become “intelligent” through the integration of electronic and sensory functions, which allow them to react to environmental influences or interact with their environment. Sensors or circuit boards are attached to textiles, for example by being stitched on, or threads and textile fabrics are used that already have sensory or electrically conductive properties. Intelligent textiles warm up/heat up, are luminescent, protect, generate energy and communicate.
Clothing with integrated sensors is already on the market, at least in niche areas: t-shirts and shirts that can measure pulse, breathing and body movement, heatable underwear, heatable jackets with communication and lighting systems. There are even inlay soles with GPS tracking devices or smart shoes that can be opened up, closed or heated up using an app while also counting steps and calculating calorie consumption. Smart textiles are already very useful in the medical field. The Institute of Textile Technology and Process Engineering Denkendorf, for example, developed a sensory stocking for diabetics that measures the skin’s blood circulation and vibrates when the wearer should move again to improve circulation.
Many of these smart textile products are still in the research phase. However, the sports, health and medical sectors are promising future markets for smart textiles, whether for preventive monitoring of breathing and heart rate or for keeping track of wound healing processes.
Profession or vocation?
Among the best at physics and always wanting to know the specifics: These are aptitudes which can lead to a technical profession. When paired with an enthusiasm for technology, the profession can soon turn into a vocation. VDMA’s online consulting page talentmaschine.de provides orientation on this. For example, the page introduces the training process for mechatronics technicians at a mechanical engineering company. The website also provides information on study programs for mechanical engineering, operations abroad and careers within the industry, all with the great goal of inventing technological solutions for people and developing them further.
To prevent an interesting semester or assignment abroad, for example in a region with risk of malaria, from resulting in a lifelong disease, there are advanced textiles that have an insect-repellent impregnation.
Other professions also use new technologies. The protective clothing of firefighters, for example, includes integrated sensors that monitor vital functions for the protection of the emergency personnel.
Smart textilesREAD MORE
people in Germany work in the health sector.
in turnover were generated by the medical technology sector in Germany in 2015.
of the turnover
is reinvested in research and development by the companies in the medical technology sector.
first cardiac pacemaker implanted in a human.
artificial hip and knee joints
were implanted during operations in Germany in 2013.
Source: Statistisches Bundesamt
of medical technology companies
Retirement as a fresh start
The children have moved out and it is now possible to cut back working hours and readjust your work-life balance. Retirement is within sight and long harbored plans can come to fruition; be it traveling to New Zealand or South America, learning how to sail or going on tours in the Alps. The operation on the knee joint and subsequent rehabilitation went well, so this is the time to get moving!
Today, elderly people are more active and live healthier than ever before. A balanced diet, physical exercise and optimal medical care enable the retirement phase of people’s lives to be as active as during their professional life.
Medically fit in old age
The growing number of elderly people makes senior citizens an interesting target group and provides the basis for a host of innovations. The first reading glasses are used at the age of 50, and frequently, the first dental crown comes even earlier. Dental implants and, more importantly, artificial joints not only represent regained quality of life for the patients, they are also extremely durable high-tech constructions. Products such as dentures would remain pipe dreams without modern production technology. After all, they must be produced under meticulously clean conditions, made from biocompatible but difficult to process metal alloys and be affordable for as many people as possible.
Better health, fewer operations
Today, people of all ages are restored to health more quickly after operations than would have been deemed possible a few years ago. In the future, even post-operations after accidents will no longer be necessary thanks to magnesium screws that the bones can convert into body tissue. The future starts today…