Mechatronic solutions: how to effectively automate work in the medical field

Mechatronic solutions_how to effectively automate work in the medical field

Automating processes is an increasingly evident necessity in the medical field. Leading this trend is the evolution of mechatronics, a technological front that over time has proven to offer substantial contributions to improving the efficiency, precision, and safety of operations.

Consider the growing integration of automated devices and equipment in medical processes, from laboratory analysis to robot-assisted surgery, to more personal applications such as neonatal care devices.

These are fields where the use of well-established solutions – such as standard stepper motors, stepper motors with integrated electronics, slotless brushless DC motors, and linear actuators – is proving essential for modernizing infrastructures. This, for obvious reasons, requires very high safety standards, with components designed to resist chemical agents and corrosion and to meet quality certifications.

Stepper motors: the heart of medical automation 

Standard stepper motors and those with integrated electronics are the backbone of many automated medical applications. Their ability to provide high positioning precision, combined with reliable movement repeatability, makes them ideal for devices like clinical chemical analyzers, immunology systems, and blood gas analyzers.

In contexts where greater energy efficiency and lower maintenance are required, slotless brushless DC motors add significant value. The cogging-free structure with ironless windings ensures high torque and power density in a very compact motor, reducing friction and wear. This leads to their adoption in applications requiring quiet operation and thousands of hours of durability, such as surgical devices and medical imaging systems.

 

Surgical instruments and robots: where millimetric precision is needed 

In the field of surgery and medical robotics, the integration of low-voltage components, such as brushless DC motors and slotless brushless DC motors, in robot arms and grippers is crucial. These components offer a combination of high performance, reliability, and safety, allowing surgical robots to perform precise and smooth movements with millimetric accuracy.

Brushless DC motors, thanks to their brushless construction, guarantee higher energy efficiency, longer lifespan, and quieter operation compared to traditional brushed motors, characteristics particularly appreciated in surgical applications where low noise and longer operational life are required.

Slotless brushless DC motors, on the other hand, offer frictionless operation and greater resistance to wear, making them preferable in applications requiring higher precision and lower maintenance. Their compact construction makes them particularly suitable for integration into robotic arms and surgical instruments, allowing for lighter and more manageable devices without compromising performance.

The use of low-voltage components naturally contributes to ensuring the safety of operators and patients during surgical procedures, reducing the risk of electric shocks and other accidents. This is particularly important in operating rooms and all environments where precision and safety are crucial.

Brushless and stepper motors ensure reliability in radiographic equipment 

Radiographic equipment, with their various controlled axes, represents another critical area in the medical field. Precision, interpolation, and speed of operations are fundamental in these contexts, which is why the use of brushless and stepper servos, even at low voltage, is so frequent.

Brushless and stepper servos offer a combination of advanced performance and ease of integration, especially when accompanied by appropriate Industrial Ethernet communication systems, such as EtherCat, Profinet, and Fieldbus CANopen. Thanks to these technologies, it is possible to achieve precise axis control, ensuring smooth and accurate movements without the need for zero-point searching, resulting in greater operational efficiency and reduced cycle times.

It is important to note that the presence of “battery-less” absolute multi-turn encoders, mounted as feedback in brushless and stepper servo motors, allows for maintaining position even in the absence of power, ensuring greater safety and reducing the risk of losing critical data. This feature is particularly important in medical environments where operational continuity is essential for patient safety.

Additionally, the Safety Torque Off function, available on many of these solutions, offers an additional level of safety, allowing for the quick stopping of motor movement in case of emergency or maintenance, without compromising the safety of personnel or patients.

Linear actuators: vital precision in medical automation 

In the automation of medical devices requiring precise and controlled linear movements, linear actuators are often the component of choice. These components are appreciated for their ability to provide consistent force along a predefined trajectory, making them indispensable for applications such as patient positioning during imaging exams or surgical procedures.

Linear actuators are used, for example, to adjust the position of patients during imaging exams like MRI or CT scans, allowing technicians to accurately position patients within the machine to obtain high-quality diagnostic images. They are also used in life support devices, such as intensive care beds or transport stretchers, to adjust position and ensure patient comfort and facilitate medical procedures.

Linear actuators are also employed to control robotic arms during surgical procedures, allowing surgeons to perform delicate movements inside the patient’s body with millimetric precision. They are used in rehabilitation devices such as exoskeletons or walking aids, providing support and assistance in joint movements and helping patients regain mobility and functionality.

Equally important is their contribution to dental and orthodontic applications: here, linear actuators are often used to adjust the position of components during procedures such as dental implantology or orthodontics, allowing dentists to perform precise and targeted interventions with greater efficiency.

 

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