The Importance of Compressors in the Medical Technology Industry
Compressors aren’t often considered medical equipment, but the truth is that they are a vital part of the medical technology industry.
Countless lives have been saved by the incorporation of compressors in medical technology.
Some are present in the form of noise reduction technology, and others play a supporting role in such equipment as nebulizers.
Although the medical technology industry is becoming increasingly digital, some equipment will remain reliant upon compressors.
Understanding their role and importance can help manufacturers meet the needs of medical suppliers, engineers, doctors, and designers.
Using Compressors in the Medical Technology Industry
While compressors aren’t always designed with fail-safes, some engineers recommend them when it comes to medical equipment.
Keeping pace with state and federal law, as well as advances in material technology, will help maintain compressors when used in medical devices.
From nebulizers to blood pressure monitors, the medical technology industry relies on compressors to ensure their equipment works properly.
Due to the need for sterile equipment and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards concerning environmental quality, many medical manufacturers are eager to avoid the presence of oil.
This includes all types of compressors. However, avoiding the use of oil in medical equipment can be difficult.
Providing oil-free compressors is sometimes necessary, not only in medical facilities such as hospitals and operating rooms, but also in such sterile areas as those which produce:
- Certain medical devices
Some of this equipment must arrive already sterile. Therefore, the margin of error oil can introduce is not worth the risk.
Providing end users with product which is reliably sterile is not only a matter of customer satisfaction — it can be a matter of life and death in some cases.
Benefits of Oil-Free Compressors
Compressors which use oil in the medical technology industry can be costly in many ways.
They usually require constant and expensive maintenance, a cycle which increases as equipment ages.
With an oil-free compressor, such contaminants as dust and oil residue are less likely to be present.
In addition, some ISO standards demand a dew point below -40 degrees Fahrenheit for compressors which are used in the production of medical equipment.
Using water separators can make this possible.
Compressors in Nebulizers
Nebulizers represent an important advancement in drug administration within the medical technology industry. They transform liquid medicine into a mist so that the patient can inhale the treatment.
These machines can be designed and licensed for everyday use rather than only by trained technicians.
Nebulizers can be used to treat such diseases as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD.)
Nebulizers can run on batteries or electricity. Some can sit in a pocket; others are larger and heavier, and sit next to the patient.
How Does It Work?
In these cases, nebulizers consist of:
- A chamber containing the liquified medicine
- A compressor
- A tube connecting the two
When the patient is ready to begin treatment, he or she uses a scuba-like mouthpiece or a mask which covers the face.
This form of treatment is useful for those suffering from nose and lung ailments because the nebulizer enables the misted medicine to more easily pass through constricted airways.
Compressor-driven nebulizers must almost always be on a flat surface. Due to their size and energy consumption, they usually utilize electricity rather than batteries.
The design of nebulizer compressors must ensure they do not generate a great deal of noise, knock the medicine from an upright position, or produce vibrations.
Compressors are also important in the use of oxygen concentrators, which can also be called oxygen generators.
These devices, which may be portable as well as stationary, help patients who are suffering from low levels of oxygen in their bloodstream. Those who have respiratory problems benefit from them as well.
Sometimes oxygen concentrators use continually rechargeable battery. Other, more powerful units require an electrical outlet.
How Does It Work?
Oxygen concentrators are more complex devices than nebulizers, but the importance of a compressor is the same.
In addition to the compressor, oxygen concentrators also consist of a circuit board and a sieve bed filter, which isolates nitrogen from the oxygen of the surrounding environment. The compressor runs continuously.
Since most oxygen concentrators contain two sieve beds, with one collecting nitrogen and the other processing it, oxygen concentrators are sustainable and adjustable.
Because of this, oxygen concentrators with compressors of this type are not the bulky, heavy oxygen tanks on wheels you may be familiar with.
Oxygen concentrators are small, lightweight, and do not require refilling. Their compact design also includes a cooling system which protects the sieve beds and compressor.
Patients inhale oxygen from the concentrators using a face mask or nasal cannula. If the compressor and sieve bed filters are working efficiently, the air around it, which usually contains about 20 percent oxygen, will funnel to the patient as 90 percent oxygen.
Blood Pressure Monitors
Did you know one of the most everyday devices in the medical technology industry uses a compressor?
The humble blood pressure monitor, used by nearly every medical professional and available in scores of pharmacies and grocery stores, is used to inflate the cuff which measures blood pressure.
While most people are accustomed to having blood pressure taken only at doctor visits and before routine medical procedures, patients who are in intensive care are usually checked on a continual basis, usually every fifteen minutes.
Some medical equipment units not only measure blood pressure; their program also monitors:
- Heart rate
As it can be time consuming and distracting for medical professionals to continuously switch between obtaining this information via the usual route, some patient monitors can automatically trigger a compressor to measure blood pressure.
Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Devices
Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Devices, also known as IPCs, work on the same principle as blood pressure monitors.
IPCs work to prevent blood clots in leg veins by squeezing thighs or calves to increase blood flow.
For this device, compressors deliver pressure to help push blood through the veins.
The medical technology industry is essential in treating a variety of illnesses, and the success of these devices relies heavily on compressors.
Because of this, finding a reputable compressor manufacturer is a must.
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