Wednesday 16 November 2016

Special solutions for analytical and medical applications

The ASCO range of valves in line with the exacting requirements of the medical and analytical sectors and suitable for these industries include a broad portfolio of miniature solenoid valve products, including isolation valves – where the fluid is isolated from the mechanical parts of the valve, proportional valves and complete customised solutions.

In excess of 80% of ASCO’s miniature solenoid valves sold into the medical and analytical sectors are customised. All of these ‘specials’ are created based on years of knowledge accumulation relating to the specialist demands of these industries. For the medical technology market, this might concern the supply of custom valves for use in dialysis machines, anaesthesia machines, ventilator systems (Emergency/ Home care and Hospital) or air mattresses for “pressure relieving” hospital beds. While bespoke valves for analytical technology applications could involve machines that analyse blood or gas samples, for instance.

Producing a special valve means taking different parts (standard or special) in order to meet perfectly the customer requirement. Customising a valve means to offer a valve with special body, electrical connection or special technical characteristics (pressure, flow…) ASCO can recount numerous recent requests for specials, such as special plastic injection blocks with several valves incorporating pressure sensors, fittings and filters.

In short, ASCO can custom-engineer just about any valve; whether the requirement is for a complex manifold interface assembly or simply a choice of solenoid valve terminations. To provide complete peace of mind, the company manufactures under clean room conditions, and tests every assembly before shipment. One part number is provided for one function (assembled and tested).

ASCO’s knowledge of the medical and analytical sectors ensure it is able to meet the high requirements for accuracy, reliability and purity demanded in these specialist fields. In addition, extensive international safety accreditations and certifications are applied to ensure the quality and safety of special products and their suitability for applications in various regions of the world.

With regard to analytical technology, special valves must not only exhibit precision and functionality, but be resistant to aggressive fluids and gases. Further requirements include a low internal volume and an easy-to-flush design, while valves with low power consumption will reduce heat transfer into the fluid. Typical applications include systems for chromatography, haematology, immunology, cytology, DNA synthesis, emissions analysis, water analysis and leak measurement.

Concerning special valves for medical technologies, the clear emphasis is on patient safety. Here, valves come partly into direct contact with fluids introduced into, or taken from patients, be it in handling medical gases in respirators, or liquids in dialysis. This field of application requires the use of inert materials, a low internal volume and low power consumption, as well as easy-to-flush internal valve or system cavities. Typical applications include equipment and devices for artificial respiration, anaesthesia, oxygen concentration, dialysis, dentistry, clinical sterilisation, minimally invasive surgery, cryosurgery and cellulitis treatment (massage).

Recent examples of ASCO expertise in special solutions include fluid isolation valves with a diaphragm mechanism for chemical analysis. Here, six solenoid-operated diaphragm valves were assembled in a star-like configuration on a manifold. In a similar application, this time for a bioanalytical system, Fluid isolation solenoid valves with low internal volume were mounted on a PMMA (acrylic) manifold. Another application with a PMMA manifold saw a rocker type fluid isolation valve with a power saving circuit board used with a cell analyser machine.

The success story is similar with regards to multi-function modules. For instance, ASCO has recently created special assemblies involving an injection-moulded manifold with a bellows seal valve used in equipment designed to handle ultra-pure laboratory water.

In a further multi-function module example, this time involving fluid isolation valves with a flapper mechanism on a blood analyser, a valve module with several fluid isolation valves and a pressure sensor was mounted on a customised acrylic manifold. Distinctive features of the innovative flapper mechanism were the low number of moving parts and corrosion-resistant fluid isolation from the solenoid operator. This design provided a high level of operational and process safety. In comparison with valves offering similar characteristics, it was possible to further improve self-draining and flushing capabilities. What’s more, due to the valves’ low power consumption of 4W (only 1.5W with optional battery operation), the temperature rise of the fluid could be reduced further.

Yet another recent customer example involved solenoid valves for fluid isolation in a dental application. Here, an injection moulded modular valve manifold was mounted with proportional and miniature fluid isolation valves. These had to shut off or proportionally control liquids and gaseous fluids.

There have also been several special solutions provided recently involving micro-valves in multi-function modules. A case in point comprised an injection moulded manifold with general service valves, a printed circuit board and tubing connection used in a dialysis system. In a further micro-valve application, a ventilator assembly included an injection moulded valve manifold with pressure sensors.

Ultimately, products for analytical and medical technology must meet very specific requirements. ASCO has proven that it can offer a variety of valve solutions that are specially adapted to gas and fluid handling in medicine, biomedicine and industrial analytics – in fact wherever standard products have shown to be unsuitable.


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