Passive and Quiet Cooling Solutions for Medical Equipment

Sophisticated Medical Imaging machines provide detailed three-dimensional (3D) images of internal organs.  One method of achieving these images is by taking “2D image slices” and rotating the imaging equipment about the body.  The imaging devices are themselves a series of slices containing sensors which must have the same temperature to provide the same image quality.

The problem facing the product development engineers at a leading medical device company was how to quadruple the number of sensors per slice, while still maintaining a highly uniform temperature across the imaging equipment. In the earlier version of the product, it was quite easy to transfer a small amount of heat over a short distance from the inner sensors to the outer edge, where a liquid cooling system ultimately dissipated the heat. However, with so many more sensors the temperature gradient from the inner sensors to the outer ones became unacceptably high. Extending the liquid cooling inward was considered but ultimately deemed impractical because of the complexity and risks of having tubing and manifolding within the slice.

Heat pipes were considered a very good option to regulate medical equipment temperature because of their ability of transferring heat without consuming power and making noise. But the customer’s engineers had some concerns: Could heat pipes provide a uniform temperature across the many sensors, and just as critically, perform reliably under the very high rotational speed?  That’s where ACT entered the picture.  Working as a team with our customer’s engineers, ACT first developed a simulation model to evaluate the performances of various heat pipe designs under high speed rotations, and then built and tested several prototypes to confirm the predicted temperature gradient (less than 2°C). As the high performance imaging machine went into production ACT manufacturing ramped up effectively and continues to meet the customer’s quality and delivery requirements

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