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22 FLEX007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2018 Empa researchers are currently developing polymer fibers that can be equipped with drugs. The smart fibers recognize the need for therapy all by themselves and dose the active ingredients with precision and accuracy. Drug-releasing textiles could, for instance, be used to treat skin wounds. For the "self-care materials" project, fibers are produced from biodegradable polymers using various processes. "The targeted use of the fiber determines which manufacturing process is best," explains Empa researcher and project coordinator René Rossi. Delicate, light membranes with a large surface are formed during so-called electrospinning. If robust fibers are required (e.g., for protective clothing), it is better to draw the melted ingredients. In the end, all processes produce novel fibers, the nano-architecture of which is made up of several layers and components. In the finished product, for example, antibiotics or painkillers are to be integrated into the fibers.Textiles or dressings that release a remedy under slight pressure or a stimulus of light can contribute to the quality of life of patients and at the same time relieve the burden on health care staff. The system can also be used for preventive measures. The idea behind it: Where active substances can be released, substances are also able to penetrate the fiber in the opposite direction. In the case of premature babies, the sugar bal- ance is particularly likely to be out of balance. With the help of such sen- sors, blood sugar can be monitored painlessly through the tender skin without the babies having to suffer from a prickly blood sample. (Source: EMPA) Medication You Can Wear aging problem. Flexible solutions provide numerous benefits, including space, weight, packaging, reliability, and more. Even with these benefits in mind, it can be difficult to jus- tify the added expense when compared to the traditional approach of a rigid PCB and cable solution. It is easy to only make a compari- son at a surface level. Digging deeper into the total cost also includes purchasing, receiving, inspection, and administrative cost. A higher number of purchase orders being generated for the PCB and cable solution when compared to a single rigid-flex design provides a more holis- tic view of total cost. Moving forward with a rigid-flex design, it is highly recommended that you work closely with your fabricator for stackup, array design and material utilization, dynamic flex require- ment, and advanced via structures to ensure that you are not unnecessarily introducing added cost. Your fabricator works with rigid- flex designs daily—take advantage of that knowledge! FLEX007 Tara Dunn is the president of Omni PCB, a manufacturer's rep firm specializing in the printed circuit board industry. To read past columns or contact Dunn, click here. Anaya Vardya is president and CEO of American Standard Circuits. To read past columns or contact Vardya, click here.

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