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Intelligent wound dressing better for both patient and healthcare providers

A wound dressing that indicates when it should be changed. DryMax Sensor is the product of a meeting between a super-absorbent dressing and printed electronics. This innovative solution was developed by the company Absorbest with assistance from RISE.

Slow-healing and exuding wounds are a worldwide problem. These types of wounds can be caused by, for example, external trauma, diabetes and circulatory disorders. To best treat a wound, the choice of dressing is paramount, as is changing the dressing at the right time.

Absorbest AB is a company that has developed super-absorbent products, including advanced wound dressings that meet the high demands for hygiene and function in the medical technology field.

Intelligence built-in

But the company wanted to go a step further and build intelligence into the units. The idea was to use moisture sensors able to indicate when the dressing should be changed.

– “The first challenge was to understand how a super-absorbent dressing with sensors would fit into users’ routines,” says Jenny Sandh, Project Manager and Head of Development at Absorbest. “We considered it essential that it would work in their daily lives.”

The second challenge related to the design of the moisture sensor itself.

– “The more advanced a product is, the more knowledge of different areas is required,” explains Sandh. “We are specialists in absorbent products, but we don’t know much about sensors and printed electronics. So we got in touch with RISE and the Printed Electronics Arena testbed.”

We put a lot of energy into the choice of materials

RISE involved from the start

David Nilsson, Project Manager and Senior Researcher at RISE, was involved in the project from the outset:

– “The challenge was to find a good concept that was simple, inexpensive and accepted in healthcare. We put a lot of energy into the choice of materials, since it was important to find the right material for the function sought by Absorbest. Of course, it was also challenging to achieve a good production flow.”

The solution constitutes an electrochrome display combined with a sensor that generates voltage when exposed to fluid from a wound. The electrodes in the sensor, together with the wound fluid, form a battery cell that generates sufficient voltage for the display to change colour, thereby indicating that it is time to change the dressing.

The system is produced using standard printing processes and was developed by Printed Electronics Arena in close collaboration with Absorbest and printing company Beneli. Healthcare practitioners were also involved throughout the development.

– “We had regular discussions with healthcare providers and allowed them to offer feedback on several different prototypes along the way,” says Sandh. “Subsequently, we also conducted a small clinical study.

– “It showed that the concept worked and we only had to make a few minor adjustments to the dressing itself, not to the printed sensor.”

Approved for CE marking 

In the summer of 2020, the dressing, named DryMax Sensor, was approved for CE marking. RISE started production of sensors during the autumn while Absorbest prepared a larger study involving multiple clinics to gain further knowledge about the use.

– “The larger study is getting started now in the winter, and we hope to have the product on the market in 2022,” says Sandh.

Absorbest hopes that DryMax Sensor will improve the efficiency of care since the dressing signals to healthcare professionals when it should be changed. The fact that patients can read the moisture sensor display themselves also contributes to increased awareness and greater involvement in their own treatment, which is usually beneficial for healing.

RISE has worked very practically and truly considered the implementation, not just the theory

Looking for innovative solutions

According to Sandh, the development of DryMax Sensor is a good example of how Absorbest aspires to find new solutions:

– “Absorbest has a general drive to find innovative solutions and to equip our super-absorbent materials with new properties. Adding printed sensors required collaboration with an external partner and collaborating with RISE on this has been a novel and informative experience. RISE has worked very practically and truly considered the implementation, not just the theory. They have turned research into a user-friendly product.”

“It’s been a fantastic project to work on, where the team consisted of both researchers and end users,” says Nilsson. “In particular, it’s been great to be involved from start to finish; from the initial ideas to CE marking. Moreover, there is a real need for the product for people with nasty wounds, and that makes it even more rewarding.”

Absorbest AB

  • Absorbest is a Swedish medical technology company focusing on high-performance super-absorbents.
  • The company was founded in 1997 by Rolf Rovaniemi and Torbjörn Hansen.
  • The company has four business areas: Wound Care, Operation, Food Packaging and Clean.
  • Products in the Wound Care and Operation areas are marketed under the DryMax brand. 
  • More than 95% of the company’s production is exported.
  • Absorbest has around 30 employees with a production facility in Kisa, Östergötland.
Published: 2021-01-29