Engineering People’s Health: Miniature Motors in Medical Devices

Science and technology never cease to advance, in turn benefiting other industries. The medical field, in particular, has put motor technology to good use with the development of cutting-edge equipment that are more efficient and precise, even as they are easier to operate and maintain. These, in turn, also result in better health care solutions and procedures that produce more efficient and more effective outcomes for patients.

Miniature motors play a key role in this development in the medical technologies. From clinical and surgical to research and laboratory settings, these small wonders of mechanics have a wide range of applications and benefits.

Big to Small, Liquid to Gas

While robotic surgical arms and saws as well as angioplasty equipment typically have quite a size difference, they have one thing in common: a brushless DC motor (or BLDC motor) that allows them to work efficiently. This is especially important when precise movements are required in a medical operation. BLDC motors also deliver more power per volume, resulting in more compact and portable devices.

These small but powerful motors are also the driving force behind machines used to analyze liquid samples, like blood and other bodily fluids, as well as breathing devices like positive airway pressure (PAP) respirators that help treat sleep apnea. The use of BLDC motors also allows these devices to operate more quietly, adding to a more comfortable patient experience.

Longer Life Span of Equipment

Most miniature motors also have longer life spans—usually more than 10,000 hours—as opposed to their larger, bulkier counterparts that typically have just about 2,000 to 5,000 hours of service life. This is an important factor when it comes reducing waste and lowering the costs of acquiring new equipment.

A brushless DC motor, in particular, can withstand more than 2,000 cycles of stringent sterilization processes. This characteristic contributes to the longer life spans of medical devices, as sterilization is an important part of maintaining the working standard of these pieces of equipment. Sterilization is also crucial to preventing infection and contamination, whether it is equipment to equipment or equipment to person.

Mechanical Flexibility and Control

In a laboratory setting, precision is a crucial element especially in preparing, distributing, and analyzing samples. These steps can be very tricky, especially with the specific variations required depending on the tests or analyses to be performed. With the help of brushless DC motors, exact positioning, precise retrieval and delivery, and quick mixing of reagents and samples can be accomplished with ease. These are made possible with the high power output, motor efficiency, precision control, and low vibration output of these miniature motors.

These same properties also allow medical equipment to be more ergonomic and lightweight, as well as both powerful and sensitive to perform even the most delicate operations.

Brushless DC motors are markedly more expensive than brush-type ones, mainly because of their structural complexity and component requirements, which include rare earth neodymium magnets. However, considering the multi-faceted benefits of using BLDC motors in both the medical devices and their users, it is easy to see why these are the preferred component in developing medical technologies.

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