Medical device manufacturing, as the name suggests, refers to the production of medical devices. Due to the large amount of regulations in the industry, the production of medical devices presents significant challenges from both engineering and legal perspectives.
Medical devices are defined by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as any object or component used in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, or cure of medical conditions or diseases, or affects body structure or function through means other than chemical or metabolic reaction in humans or animals. This includes all medical tools, excluding drugs, ranging from tongue depressors to Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scanners to radiology treatments. Because of the wide variety of equipment classified as medical devices, the FDA has no single standard to which a specific device must be manufactured; instead they have created an encompassing guide that all manufacturers must follow. Manufacturers are required to develop comprehensive procedures within the FDA framework in order to produce a specific device to approved safety standards. Devices are classified into three brackets: Class I: General Controls; Class II: General Controls and Special Controls; Class III: General Controls and Premarket Approval. Regulations differ by class based on their complexity or the potential hazards in the event of malfunction. Class I devices are the least likely to cause major bodily harm or death in the event of failure, and are subjected to less stringent regulations than are devices categorized as Class II or Class III.