19 March 2012
LARGO, Fla.–Like yoga, the pinnacle of design innovation is a balance struck between form, functionality, cost and, oh, 10 or 20 other variables.
Not easy, but, like yoga, can be learned over years of practice. The best part of our Drive for Innovation meetings is finding people who can articulate their best efforts at achieving balance with what are invariably enormously complex design challenges.
We found two of them in Florida at ConMed Linvatec. Mike Decesare and Malcolm Macdonald are R&D engineers here whose focus is on battery technology for a very special type of handheld tool: surgical saws and drills.
The very thought of surgery with their tools made my knees and bones hurt. But better these high-tech devices than hand saws from Civil War-era field hospitals.
We don't usually like to post long video interviews, but our 16-minute talk with Decesare and Macdonald turned out to be an insightful tour through some amazing design challenges associated with portable surgical tools, particularly their MPower-2 handpieces.
+ What are their biggest challenges? (Think about how to survive cleaning)
+ How do you design hand-held devices differently than hand-held construction tools?
+ How small and light can these devices get? (Turns out, not too much more.)
+ How do they navigate government regulations? (It's amazing how many they actually have to think about.)
With typical understatement, Decesare sets up the myriad challenges, saying, "If a battery fails in surgery or a handpick fails in surgery, it doesn't go over well."
Listen as Decesare and Macdonald walk us through the many electronics-design challenges they confront.