Engineering News : Page 5 of 7

protection, wear resistance, and RF shielding," says Groff. "It's an excellent coating for pump liners and compressor parts."

Helping make the process more efficient is the use of Victrex PEEK, a product of Victrex USA Inc., West Chester, PA. "We experimented with a number of high-temperature resins before deciding on PEEK. It was by far the best for plasma spraying because of its flow, adherence, and coating properties," Groff relates.

The process offers another benefit: The plasma spray coating takes place in an environmentally controlled at-mosphere without using any carcinogenic materials.

Moreover, it is efficient and productive. "Everything is done robotically," Groff explains. "This means repeatability is excellent. You can be assured that the 500th part is the same as the first."

Engineering tools come to the operating room

Julie Anne Schofield, Associate Editor

Bohemia, NY--A newly approved standard for a "Medical Information Bus" (MIB) will let bedside devices and hospital computers from multiple vendors interoperate without custom software or hardware interfaces. To help speed design of MIB medical equipment, ILC Data Device Corp. has developed an IEEE 1073 Prototype Development Kit.

Approved late last year, IEEE standard 1073 defines a data communication interface between bedside medical devices and hospital patient-care computers. The standard is based on the ISO Open System Interconnect (OSI) 7-layer model. Thus, it will provide plug-and-play operation from the connectors and cabling to software.

Today, data transfer is possible only through RS-232C ports. These ports are not standard on medical de-vices--people use the pins in different ways. Bob Kennelly at DDC claims you can blow up a laptop computer simply by plugging an infusion pump into it.

IEEE 1073 defines an active star topology that involves two types of communications stations: a device communication controller (DCC) and a bedside communication controller (BCC). A DCC provides an embedded 1073 into a bedside medical device such as an infusion pump or cardiac monitor. An external converter box interfaces with existing equipment.

DDC's kit includes an IEEE 1073 BCC board for an IBM PC, RS-232C to 1073 DCC converter box, cable assembly, medical-rated power supply, and software for the BCC board and converter box. It sells for $4,500. DCC's MIB port chipsets debut this spring. For more information about the IEEE 1073 standard, phone (908) 562-3800.

Bausch & Lomb and IBM team up to deliver contact lenses

Rochester, NY--Although not apparent at first glance, there are many similarities between manufacturing microelectronics and optical devices. Both require clean environments with very few airborne particulates, and must be precise to tolerances measured in microns.

So, Bausch & Lomb's Contact Lens Div. decided work with IBM Micro-electronics to develop the PerformaSystem--a manufacturing and inventory-control system for B&L's next generation of soft contact lenses.

The Performa System uses B&L's patented FormCasttechnology to produce soft contact lenses in a highly automated fashion. Extremely precise molds create high-quality optical surfaces and exacting edges. Laser measurements and computerized in-line quality-control systems help ensure consistent lens quality and repeatability. IBM's PlantWorks serves as Performa's shop-floor control system.

To shorten the development cycle on the Performa System, IBM employed a

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