A simplification test for point-of-care tests

The story of Covid-19 would have panned out differently without point-of-care testing. Swab tests became the order of the day, and the freedom to roam depended on lateral flow technology.

But point-of-care tests (PoCT) have a much longer history than the pandemic. From glucose testing devices to pregnancy tests, PoCT devices have made out-of-lab diagnostics possible for over fifty years.

More importantly, though, they made medical testing quicker and easier. The dominant technology, lateral flow tests, are built from four main components: a sample pad, a conjugate pad, a reaction membrane, and an absorbent pad. But assembling the actual devices is a lot more intricate.

suspended covid later flow test kit against green background

Reduce parts to the essentials

“A prototype point-of-care test is made from dozens of components,” says Ian Thornham, Sales Director at Mpac Group. Each of the major components involves a further sub-assembly of materials and parts.

However, the success of manufacturing point-of-care tests lies in minimizing the component range. In fact, Ian tells us that models for medical devices go through a simplification process until they are market-ready. The final design is typically made up of 10 and 20 individual parts.

Ultimately, simplification means the mastery of complex processes, and manufacturing easy-to-use tests demands a production ecosystem able to handle complicated actions with precision.

Optimize composition with assembly expertise

The degree of simplification is determined primarily by the capability of the assembly setup. Advanced automation platforms require fewer building blocks to construct the final products, allowing minimalist designs and devices with lean compositions.

Point-of-care tests keep changing to be more widely accessible and suitable for new applications. And, as design criteria evolve, so must manufacturing processes. By optimizing composition, assembly expertise keeps devices in compliance with PoCT standards.

Speed, accuracy, and scalability are fundamental aspects of automated assembly systems. But Ian and the process specialists at Mpac add simplicity as a fourth dimension. Assembly is not merely about joining components but improving the design by reducing complex parts.

Point-of-care testing faces a test of its own. It’s assembly simplification.