The medical market for MEMS pressure sensors will grow 6% this year, aided by the use of disposable devices as well as respiratory monitoring, says IHS.
Revenue for pressure sensors in medical electronics applications will reach $137.6m 2012, up 6% from $129.2m in 2011. Growth will be steady over the next few years, with revenue projected to reach $186.7m by 2016.
The major suppliers of MEMS pressure sensors for medical electronics applications include Honeywell, GE Sensing of Massachusetts, Omron from Japan, Freescale, MEAS (Measurement Specialties) of Virginia, TDK Epcos from Japan, Memscap from France, Merit Sensor Systems of Utah, Panasonic from Japan, Hokuriku from Japan, and another 10 or so smaller companies.
The supply chain also includes foundry suppliers like Semefab from the United Kingdom, which supplies die to 1LP or 2LP packagers.
Besides medical electronics, the high-value MEMS pressure category also includes the industrial and military/aerospace segment, which accounts for the remaining half of revenue for the overall high-value MEMS space, worth $283.5 million this year.
Pressure sensors this year will become the leading type of MEMS device, projected to generate revenue worth $1.5bn. For medical applications, the technology for MEMS pressure sensors requires expertise in making accurate low-pressure measurement devices, used for invasive and non-invasive applications alike. Pressure sensors for invasive applications, such as the monitoring of blood pressure, are low-cost consumables. In comparison, pressure sensors for non-invasive uses, such as sleep-disorder sensing, are reusable devices that cost considerably more.
The most common medical pressure sensor is the disposable catheter, used to monitor blood pressure during the many millions of operations performed each year. Catheter-based devices must be especially small, measuring blood pressure and micro vascular resistance in the vicinity of the heart. The combination of low pressure measurement with small device size poses a challenge to manufacturers, but those that possess the technology to address the market include, among others, Honeywell of New Jersey; General Electric of New York; and Silicon Microstructures, a subsidiary of Elmos Semiconductor of Germany.
Another disposable application for MEMS pressure sensors is the infusion pump—a device that introduces fluids, medication or nutrients into a patient’s circulatory system. Infusion pumps must be simple, low-cost pressure devices intended to be thrown away after the infusion treatment is completed.
Use of this type of pressure sensor amounted to well over 60m units in 2011.
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