photo collage
  • ECONOMIC VALUE: Leveraging existing technologies that are already proven in other industries may shorten the early-stage development process.

    Economic Value
  • CLINICAL OUTCOMES: New ideas can lead to improved therapies. For example, the insulating material we licensed from NASA makes our heart device lead wires thinner to fit small veins, giving surgeons more flexibility to access different anatomies.

    Clinical Outcomes
  • SOCIETAL IMPACT: Sharing ideas and knowledge across industries may result in improved therapies that can help treat more people.

    Societal Impact

Finding Product Inspiration in Outer Space

Licensed from NASA

Our scientists and engineers often find inspiration for our products from outside the company. In the late 1990s, Medtronic scientist Ken Brennan was struggling to find a thin insulating material that would make the lead wires on heart devices thinner. This would allow the leads to fit in small veins of the left side of the heart — giving surgeons more flexibility to access differing patient anatomies. Ken's eureka moment came while reading a magazine article about a new material developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), designed to withstand the severe conditions in outer space.

One Giant Leap
in Product Design

Important safety information
for related Medtronic leads

The NASA insulating material is a kind of "super plastic." It's resistant to moisture, heat, and chemicals. It's flexible and can be applied in thin layers. Most importantly, it proved to be biologically compatible inside the human body.

We licensed the material from NASA and created leads that give surgeons more flexibility to place the leads in the most beneficial location for each patient.

Diagram of heart veins

Benefit Summary

Medtronic looks all over the world — and even beyond — for product inspiration.

  • ECONOMIC VALUE: Leveraging existing technologies that are already proven in other industries may shorten the early-stage development process.
  • CLINICAL OUTCOMES: New ideas can lead to improved therapies. For example, the insulating material we licensed from NASA makes our heart device lead wires thinner to fit small veins, giving surgeons more flexibility to access different anatomies.
  • SOCIETAL IMPACT: Sharing ideas and knowledge across industries may result in improved therapies that can help treat more people.