How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?

By Tim
Courtesy Sunshine Heart

Courtesy Sunshine Heart

While I know that I should eat well, exercise regularly, not smoke, and have regular checkups – I don’t always do these healthy things, which puts me at greater risk for developing a heart condition. 

Apparently, I am not alone. I just read some staggering statistics on Heart Failure (HF) at the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. Five million people in the United States suffer from HF and 500,000 more are expected to join their ranks each year.  According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the 2006 costs associated with HF in the U.S. was 29.6 billion dollars.

Thankfully, there are many bioengineering researchers in the world who are using realistic simulation technology to study the heart and associated medical devices in amazing levels of detail.

Click to view animation of Stent analysis using Abaqus FEA

Click to view animation of Stent analysis using Abaqus FEA

Performing realistic 3D simulation of the human heart and medical devices requires being able to model human tissue, blood flow, nonlinear structures, and complex contact between the devices and the heart. SIMULIA has developed robust finite element analysis (FEA) and multiphysics technology within the Abaqus Unified FEA product suite.  This technology is being used by bioengineering researchers to simulate realistic physical behavior of the medical devices interacting with the heart, arteries, and blood vessels.

One of those researchers is Dr. William Peters, a cardiothoracic surgeon and and founder of Sunshine Heart in New Zealand. His patented C-Pulse has recently been accepted for human trials in the U.S. The device consists of a cuff that wraps around the aorta that inflates and deflates a membrane against the vessel’s external walls. This process makes the aorta pulsate in time with the heart, augmenting blood flow through the circulatory system and reducing the strain on the entire heart. Check out the complete case study here.

Milton DeHerrera Ph.D of Edwards Lifesciences  is another innovative bioengineer. At the 2009 SIMULIA Customer Conference, he presented a paper on the “Numerical Study of Metal Fatigue in a Superelastic Anchoring Stent Embedded in a Hyperelastic Tube”, coauthored by Wei Sun, Ph.D from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut. Their research is intended to  improve the virtual representation of human tissue and medical device interaction.

Adding to the complexity of developing medical devices is that ‘one-size does not always fit-all’. Dr.   Ken Perry has a cool medical device simulation blog site detailing his use of FEA and associated validation processes. Check out a couple of his recent posts - Identifying Worst Case Device Sizes and FEA and the FDA .

These dedicated researchers are helping to develop amazingly innovative and effective treatments that are truly capable of ‘mending broken hearts’. Now that I am aware of the alarming heart failure statistics, I plan to take a little more initiative in trying to keep my heart healthy.

Pass the fruit, veggies, and oats…will you join me?

Take care

PS: This is part 2 of my ongoing series on how realistic simulation is being used to improve medical devices and enhance the quality of our lives, stay tuned.

What’s in your CPG innovation pipeline?

By Rosemary

Better, faster, smarter innovation. Sounds pretty good right? This is a consumer packaged goods (CPG) mantra.

If you work with new products in a CPG company, are you working to improve in-market success for your new product introductions? Are you trying to do this faster than ever, garnering higher market share and revenue more quickly, particularly in this economy? And are you working with fewer resources to get the job done?

The answer is simple and consistent: all of us are!

The more tricky question is how?

Consumer packaged goods companies work toward this “Holy Grail” everyday, bringing their consumers products that meet their changing needs in a fast paced, competitive environment. These are products that are sold in large quantities for a low price. One consumer goods company has $84B in sales revenue and sells most of their products for $10 or less! Think about that.

These are products that are consumed, literally. Personal Care products like toiletries, soaps, lotions or teeth cleaning products. Household items like laundry detergent, household cleaners and disinfectants. It includes food and beverages products that you use and enjoy every day. And it also includes beauty products, like make-up, skin care or cologne.

So how do manufacturers keep up with the changing demands of consumers worldwide?

This is a challenging task, often in an environment of fragmented systems, with functions working independently and little collaboration with global peers. And language barriers add an additional level of complexity.

It seems to me that there is a lot of value waiting to be had for many companies who can solve this conundrum.

Common practices and centrally available information can add significant value. Often times, companies try to string current systems together. Leading companies are implementing systems that are designed to work together seamlessly and are finding significant bottom line results.

P&G is a great example. Below is a link to an article that describes their challenges, obstacles and solution that has saved them $250M annually. This too can happen to you.


Semiconductor Check-Up

By Rick

Two major semiconductor industry events occurred in July. Those were Semicon West and the Design Automation Conference (DAC). Combined, the two events capture nearly the entire product lifecycle for integrated circuits (IC). DAC focuses on design and the tools, partnerships and standards needed for complex chip design. Semicon focuses less on design and more on the productization, manufacturing, assembly, test and equipment used by the industry. The Semicon show (combined with a sister event Intersolar) was attended by over 17,000 people, up about 4% from last year. That’s pretty encouraging on its own. What I’ve seen on DAC’s attendence is a bit sketchy, but one source had the attendence for just the exhibits at over 3200 and attendence for the technical sessions over 1800 engineers. It may not sound like much, but given the economic climate, it wasn’t too shabby.

Trying to analyze the health of the industry based on these events was sort of like my last trip to the doctor. I actually grew up in the same town as my doctor and graduated high school with his brother. I knew my doctor as a super-bright kid that always seemed to have the answers. As an engineer, I’m always looking for “the right answer”. So my last visit with my doctor was a bit disturbing. As I was talking to my doctor, he told me that without literally going inside to look at things, everything else is just a series eliminations and probabilites towards finding the truth. He can only look at the information available and reduce the set of possible causes. Even x-rays are just a single-point view. Sometimes, there is only so much that you can deduce from that.

I’m the kind of guy that likes answers. My doctor knows that about me. So I’m sure that he was having fun with this conversation. But I think that the “Semiconductor Checkup” from the two recent events can help give us some clues on the health of the industry. My last post had some feedback from the Semicon West event. Here’s an update from DAC.

Frankly, DAC exceeded my expectations. I was in a number of great meetings with customers, prospects and partners. But I think that the tone of the entire event was very positive. I did notice a number of trends that I wanted to pass along.

First, before the show there was a lot of talk on “eco-systems”. I saw where there would be a number of vendors and industry alliances talking about their participation in eco-systems. And, although there were a number of such events at DAC (technology alliances, industry standards partnerships, IP vendor collaborations, …), the eco-system message really wasn’t explored as much as I had thought it would. Dassault Systemes was obviously a key player that could talk about multi-company, product development for Semiconductor. But I think that when pressed for key messages, most of the vendors talked about their niche capabilities.

There were a couple of key technologies that stepped to the front of the line. There were a number of people talking about Electronic System Level (ESL) design and some annoucements working groups around different API drafts. The importance of that being that IC design continues to get more about the product than the low-level details. There is a quote out there coined “Stanley’s Law” by Michael Santarini that says something like “Everything that happens in IC design happened in PC-board design many years ago”. People replace the term “systems” for “PC-board” now. And we can see that it’s true.

There was also buzz around the hardware-software barriers. As the amount of software content has rising over the past few years, integration of the two technologies has become more of an issue to teams in the area of partitioning, interaction and predictability. In one panel discussion of 8 managers, most of the answers on the “like to have” list were in the area of hardware-software functionality.

But the biggest change at DAC this year was the emergence of social networking. Holy smokes! Although not an IC design technololgy, the explosion of bloggers and tweets from so many people was mind-blowing. There was actually a controversy on whether bloggers should be considered journalists and, if so, should they be given media passes to the event. There was a large number of tweets with the tag #46DAC. If anything was happening, if anything was said, if there was any place to be during the show (or at night), Twitter seemed like the medium of choice. This is all interesting, as it really shows how collaboration is permeating the semiconductor industry at so many levels. It’s not just for IP commerce or limited corporate partnerships. I can’t wait to see where this takes us.

Back to the “checkup”. Although nobody came out and proclaimed the industry to be healthy, I think that there were many, many positive signs at DAC that shows an upward trend. Most analysts seems to be looking at the semiconductor industry as a leading indicator for the rest of the economy. Let’s hope so.

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