Medical Device Development

mdd1.jpg (21743 bytes)For more than a quarter of a century, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI®) has designed, developed, and tested medical devices for the healthcare industry. Recognized as a leader in applied research and development of innovative medical technologies, SwRI uses a proven, quality-based development process to transform product concepts into reality. The Institute's success in biomedical technology is based on a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving, offering clients a significant resource for complete medical device development.

Technical Expertise

SwRI's comprehensive development capabilities include the following:

Electrical design engineering

  • Low-noise analog
  • High-speed digital systems
  • RF and wireless
  • Communication protocols
  • Electrical safety
  • Opto-electronics
  • Hybrid circuits and ASIC design
  • Embedded systems


  • Digital signal processing
  • Image processing
  • Signal detection in noise
  • Classification
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Institute engineers developed a transducer that uses pulsed doppler ultrasound to measure fetal heart rate.

Product testing and evaluation

  • Mechanical and micromechanical
  • Drip and leak
  • Environmental
  • Electromagnetic compatibility
  • Life-cycle testing for fatigue and wear
  • Electrical safety
  • Flammability
  • Biocompatibility and biostability
  • Cadaver/in vitro benchtop testing
  • Radioactive source testing
  • Failure analysis
  • Animal and clinical trials

Software design and engineering

  • Structured design and development process
  • User interface design
  • Unit-, module-, and system-level testing
  • Database development
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SwRI engineers designed and developed the packaging, electronics, and embedded software for this innovative heat stress monitor.

Mechanical design and engineering

  • Theoretical and analytical (FEA) modeling, including thermal, stress/strain, fluids, and vibration
  • Parametric solid modeling, using Solidworks® and ProEngineer®
  • Industrial design
  • Animation and photo-rendering
  • Rapid prototyping and tooling

SwRI engineers designed and developed the cardiac output computer shown in the foreground for use in hospital critical care monitoring. The system measures the amount of blood pumped by the heart each minute.

Medical Applications

The Institute has extensive development experience in a wide spectrum of medical applications, including:


  • Noninvasive blood pressure (NIBP)
  • Phonocardiogram (PCG)
  • Pulsewave velocity (PWV)
  • Hemodynamics
  • Blood gas monitoring
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Modeling
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Using a multidisciplinary, integrated approach, engineers developed the prototype of this commercially available, continuous, noninvasive blood pressure monitor.

Drug/therapy delivery

  • External and in vivo systems
  • Programmable infusion pumps
  • Aerosol inhalation systems
  • Microencapsulation techniques
  • Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS


  • Implant design
  • Spine and joint biomechanics
  • Biomaterials
  • Sensor development
  • Modeling and simulation


  • Spectroscopy
  • Raman
  • Ultrasound
  • Endoscopy
  • Microscopy
  • Fluorescence
  • X-ray
  • Thermal
  • Infrared
  • Flow cytometry
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The Institute frequently redesigns laboratory prototypes into production-ready devices, such as this continuous arterial blood gas monitor.

In Vivo

  • Catheters
  • Implantable devices
  • Stent
  • Fiber optics


  • MEMS
  • Audio
  • Ultrasound
  • Magnetic
  • Optical
  • Chemical

This brochure was published in June 2004. For more information about advanced medical devices, contact Dr. Keith Bartels, Medical Systems Department, Automation and Data Systems Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, Phone (210) 522-6062.

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