Cabling and connectivity solutions company Nexans has developed a new micro-extrusion technique that creates the thinnest possible insulating jackets for minimally-invasive medical cables.

The process will enable the manufacture of medical cables with diameters of less than 0.1mm. Marketed under the name NEWSENSE, the new range of micro-cables will have an insulation jacket that is only 15 microns thick.

Medical device manufacturers face the ongoing challenge of creating even smaller components as modern medicine strives to develop more minimally-invasive and diagnostic procedures.

Nexans medical product manager Thierry Malvache said: “The medical cable market is growing by some 5-10% year on year, and the development of the new micro-cables will enable Nexans to reinforce its already strong position and open up some exciting possibilities for new applications.

“This project has really pushed the envelope of what is possible with extrusion technology, and its success is a tribute to the high level of cooperation between our medical cable factory and the Nexans Research Center in Lyon.”

Medical micro-cables play an important role in ensuring the performance, reliability and safety of numerous medical devices, so their size determines the overall size of medical equipment and therefore the impact of invasive procedures. As one of the main limiting factors in the miniaturisation of cables is thickness, Nexans set out to address this problem. Before the company developed its micro-extrusion technique, it was not possible to create cable insulation jackets below a thickness of 30 microns.

Smaller medical micro-cables offer a variety of advantages for invasive surgery. They are easier to insert inside catheters, such as when used in transcatheter applications in cardiovascular electrophysiology and neurology. They also cause less trauma for patients when directly inserted into the body, such as with pacemakers.

The new design also offers the capability to incorporate more cables within the same cross-section, which would allow for increased functionality. The extruded layer is smooth and easy to strip for termination.

One of the first NEWSENSE designs is a space-saving cable for transcatheter applications.