Q: What’s in store for the medical device sector in 2014?
Regardless of whether the 2.3% medical device tax is here to stay or not in 2014, regulatory and competitive pressures are forcing medical OEMs to consider new technologies to reduce costs. Active thermal management technologies, such as forced convection, liquid cooling, or refrigeration systems, are being reconsidered since they are potential failure points, requiring documented routine maintenance that often costs more than the device itself.
Alternatively, passive thermal management solutions, such as heat pipe assemblies, vapor chambers, phase change materials (PCM), and Annealed Pyrolytic Graphite, can improve the efficiency of heat sinks. Their rated service life practically eliminates the possibility of failure, thus reducing service cost, downtime, and the total cost of ownership.
Healthcare providers are also demanding versatile devices capable of multiple functions, rather than maintaining an assortment of function-specific devices, to reduce capital equipment costs and floor space. These multipurpose devices require more electronics in less space, which results in larger and more concentrated heat loads. Designers will need to consider both active and passive solutions to keep temperatures at acceptable levels.
Finally, the new IEC 60601-1 third edition places strict temperature limitations on medical equipment. Advanced thermal solutions will help engineers meet these standards while reducing service costs.