Sourcing enclosures for medical electronics

OKW EnclosuresMedical devices must face punishing working conditions without showing signs of wear. OKW explains how to get the enclosure sourcing right.

Patients don’t want to be treated with medical equipment that looks past its prime. They expect it to look spotless all day, every day, no matter how old it is. The enclosures housing these devices must be exemplary: smart, modern, robust and tamperproof. They should also be resilient so they continue to look new for as long as possible.

Unlike ‘nine-to-five’ office equipment, medical electronics must: withstand the hard knocks of frontline clinical care; be used 24/7/365 by a wide range of clinicians; and be transported from ward to ward. Likewise, it must survive repeated deep cleaning to help medics wage war on infections.

The wide array of different healthcare applications creates a range of challenges for manufacturers. For electronic enclosures specialist OKW, that means regularly adding new models to its range. Every model is designed to offer a degree of specialism, while being versatile enough to adapt to each OEM’s requirements. Housing can be customised to help manufacturers maintain differentiation.

OKW’s marketing director, Robert Cox, said: “Standard enclosures no longer look ‘standard’. They all look as if they’ve been purpose-designed. And that’s in their off-the-shelf state, before we’ve customised them.

“Customising a standard enclosure is a great way for medical device OEMs to help keep costs down and lead times short.”

Simple design touches can make a big difference. For example, OKW’s new Easytec sensor enclosures feature a concave recess and smart lugs at each end, making it quick and easy to cable-tie them to hospital bed rails or screw them to walls.

Easytec shares the same soft contours as OKW’s Evotec tabletop (and wall mounted/DIN rail) enclosures. Evotec offers options including flat/sloping top, recessed/un-recessed and five plan sizes after the addition of size 80.

Continuing with the desktop/wall enclosure theme, the company’s new Protec enclosure is available in three versions, offering a recessed interface area, covered recess or extra deep cover.

Modern ergonomic contours also feature in Connect enclosures for wired remote controls or lines of USB connectors. Accessories include a bed rail holding clamp and robust cable glands with kink protection and integrated strain relief.

Comfort is never more important than for wearable electronics. Not just in terms of shape but also material choice. Body-Case watch-style enclosures are moulded from high-gloss, easy-to-clean ASA for a smooth feel, smart aesthetics and UV stability. Body-Case’s two case sections are separated by a soft-touch matt TPV sealing ring that adds IP65 ingress protection and a dash of colour.

Sealing rings helped OKW win an iF Product Design Award for its Minitec personal electronic enclosures. Different rings enable Minitec to be fitted to belts, straps, lanyards, key rings or carried loose. Add the choice of shapes, sizes, colours and recess options and the number of standard permutations is huge.

Handheld enclosures become even more specialised with the eccentric, double award-winning Blob range. These unique housings are designed to intuitively guide users’ hands to the controls: perfect for patients with restricted grip or learning difficulties.

Regarding larger portable instrumentation, Carrytec provides a tough attaché style case. It can be stored on a docking station for charging/data transfer or clipped to a hospital bed rail.