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Design Talk: Medical Meeting Power Needs With Standard Components

Wed, 08/05/2009 - 10:44am
Cochise Mapa

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Cochise Mapa is director of business development at Emerson Network Power. Visit Emerson Network Power at www.powerconversion.com.

When designing electronic medical devices, manufacturers have traditionally used custom power supplies designed by a trusted industry partner to meet stringent safety certifications, address unique specifications and to support long product lifecycles. However, while custom designs may be operationally optimized, they also present higher risks for medical device manufacturers due to their unique components and potential for obsolescence.

To meet these challenges, recent innovations in power supply design have brought to market a new breed of standard power supplies that address these risks, while giving medical device manufacturers the flexibility to fine-tune their power solution to meet their specific needs.

For any non-implantable medical device that requires a power supply, designers can now employ a fully-configurable standard switching power supply with integrated digital control technology. The use of standard components—as opposed to a custom solution—is advantageous for the electronics assembly industry because product cycles are typically longer, while demand and supply remain fairly constant over time. This approach ensures continuity of component supply against obsolescence, quality, or supply chain issues.

Medical electrical equipment—excluding in vitro diagnostic devices—must comply with IEC 60601-1. In vitro diagnostic devices fall under the category of electrical laboratory equipment and must comply with IEC 61010-1. Some power supplies are certified under IEC 60601-1 while most are certified under IEC 60950-1 which generally (but not always) meet IEC 61010-1 requirements. In order to meet these specifications, custom power supplies undergo a lengthy design and validation process to achieve the appropriate safety certification for the end medical device. However, many digitally-configurable standard platforms are available pre-certified off-the-shelf to both IEC 60601-1 and IEC 60950-1 specifications.

To tailor the power solution to meet their particular needs, designers can choose from a range of standard, pre-certified "building block" modules with single, dual, and triple output configurations in power ratings from as little as 600 W to more than 4 kW. Designers can choose output voltages from 2 to 60 VDC. Digital control capabilities also provide designers with programmable control features to adjust voltage, current limit, fan speed, and output sequencing.

Considering these innovative features, standard power supplies are an ideal choice for medical device manufacturers as they effectively manage risk while developing advanced technologies that meet the strict safety regulations of the healthcare marketplace.


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