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Watlow highlights role of heating technologies in life sciences
St. Louis, Missouri, USA: – World-leading provider of electric thermal solutions, Watlow, has highlighted the increasing use of its heating technologies for lifesaving medical and clinical equipment.
Watlow says uptake of heating solutions has mainly been driven by trends in medical device applications, with the COVID-19 pandemic also playing a role.
Global marketing realities
There are around 10,000 different medical devices on the market today, defined as any instrument, apparatus or appliance involved in the diagnosis, treatment or improvement of life. Medical device design and marketing is increasingly guided by regulation, with all factors affecting patient safety, reliability and effectiveness having to be borne in mind. Temperature is a key variable factor in both drug delivery/effectiveness and also in device operation, which often raises the need for thermal solutions.
Further market trends that create unique thermal challenges include miniaturization of devices, increased throughput for diagnostic equipment and a shift towards point-of-care diagnostics focused on preventative care and faster medical decisions. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must also contend with increasingly globalized markets, requiring single devices that world under a wide variety of different climatic and environmental considerations.
Medical device challenges
From anesthesia delivery systems and respiratory therapy devices, such as ventilators, to blood and intravenous (IV) fluid warmers and transfusion equipment, heating now plays a crucial function in many medical devices. Without heaters, humidity could not be added to respiratory equipment, instruments could not be sterilized and fluids that help to stabilize body temperature post operation, could not be injected into the body.
“This shift creates several manufacturing challenges,” observes Watlow Chief System Designer, Andy Selvy.
“For instance, producers of medical devices must now consider a greater number of voltage requirements and increasingly stringent safety standards. For those focusing on making devices smaller, there’s the associated challenges of still delivering high performance and ensuring careful, considered placement of each component to maximize space,” he notes.
“Of course there are also quality, reliability and compliance issues so when selecting an industrial heating equipment manufacturer to support with a medical device project, it’s important to consider a company’s portfolio of thermal solutions for the industry,” he adds.
Heating tech in medical devices
Watlow, which has manufactured heating technology such as controllers, heaters and sensors, since 1922, is accomplished in providing OEMs with solutions that enable exceptional thermal control, meeting the most demanding product challenges, such as combining ultra-miniaturization with high performance.
For instance, Watlow’s patented ULTRAMIC® advanced ceramic heater is ideal for incorporation into miniaturized devices, offering thermal performance up to 155 watts per square centimeter in a package size as small as eight mm2. With onboard sensing for closed loop temperature control, the ULTRAMIC saves space, reduces the machine’s overall footprint and simplifies the manufacturing and assembly process.
Across the board Watlow’s compact industrial electric heaters are engineered and manufactured with patient safety in mind and comply with medical equipment, mechanical and electrical isolation requirements and commonly include on-board monitors and safety limit controllers.
There in times of crisis
Andy Selvy said the COVID-19 pandemic had accentuated demand for Watlow thermal solutions in life science applications.
“Several Watlow products have been used in medical devices during the pandemic. For instance, one medical device manufacturer has been using our ULTRAMIC advanced ceramic heaters in a product that treats COVID-19 patients, which has proven effective in preventing people from requiring ventilators,” Selvy explained.
“Additionally, Watlow EZ-ZONE panel mount controllers have been used by another company to control air flow and negative vacuum conditions in makeshift hospital tent systems. Elsewhere, our foam-in-place silicone rubber heaters have been used to help with COVID-19 vaccine testing,” he added.
Watlow is a global technology and manufacturing leader that provides world class engineering expertise and innovative thermal products and systems that enable customers to thrive.
Watlow brings its experience to numerous industries, including semiconductor processing, environmental chambers, energy processes, diesel emissions, medical and foodservice equipment.
Since 1922, Watlow has grown in product capability, market experience and global reach. The company holds more than 980 patents and employs 2,000 employees working in nine manufacturing facilities and three technology centers in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia. Watlow also has sales offices in 50 countries around the world. The company continues to grow, while the commitment remains the same – to provide its customers with superior products and services for their individual needs.
Learn more at: https://www.watlow.com/