In December, we asked Medical Design Briefs readers to cast their ballot to choose from our 12 Products of the Month the technology they felt was the most significant new introduction to the design engineering community in 2017. This year, our two winners address two critical needs in medical device design: sterilization and miniaturization. Here are the winners of the 2017 Medical Design Briefs’ Readers’ Choice Products of the Year.

Sterilizable Drive System

Maxon Precision Motors, Fall River, MA, has introduced a sterilizable drive system. By combining its new sterilizable encoder, the ENX EASY, with the company’s brushless DC motors and gearheads, it creates an entire system that can now be steam sterilized. The encoder is available in an incremental (1024 counts) and absolute version (4096 steps), both designed for 1,000 autoclave cycles. It can be combined with matching BLDC motors and planetary gearheads. It can be integrated into the brushless drives ECX 13 and ECX 16 SPEED (up to 120,000 rpm and 104 W) without any increase in length. Adding GPX 13 and GPX 16 SPEED gearheads (0.2 Nm max. continuous torque) forms a fully sterilizable positioning system. The compact and robust design of the system is particularly suitable for power tools.

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Optical Encoder

US Digital, Vancouver, WA, has introduced a miniature optical encoder. Combining small form factor and resolutions up to 720 CPR, the E8T is ideally suited for medical and other space-sensitive applications that require reliable position and velocity feedback. The encoder’s small package footprint fits motors as small as NEMA size 11 with more than 40 percent reduction in package height compared with other commercially available solutions. Utilizing the company’s proprietary OPTO-ASIC technology, the encoder supports up to 2,880 pulses per revolution with excellent repeatability. It is available in more than 3,240 configurations and features either single-ended or differential signal outputs.

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Sherrie Trigg, Editor and Director of Medical Content