By Matt Tomory
Significant advancements have occurred in transducer technology in the past few years … Single-crystal technology, CMUT, matrix array technology and wireless probes. Even though the ways that probes fail have, pretty much, remained the same, the components within probes and the methods to address the failures have become increasingly challenging. Health care organizations have been struggling to find true repair solutions for live 3D volumetric probes, such as the Philips X8-2t, X7-2t, X5-1, GE 6VT-D, and that most solutions result in replacement versus traditional repair.
Live 3D volumetric transducers contain thousands of acoustic elements compared to traditional transducers containing anywhere from 64 to 256 elements. Much of the beamforming is now actually performed in the probe, versus, or in combination with, the scanner using some very sophisticated technology. Wiring harnesses, which once contained less than 100 miniature coaxial cables, the thickness of a hair, now range to 256, and the wires are a much finer gauge
As with any newer technology, there can be challenges developing robust repair solutions in a timely manner. What many may not know is that OEMs do not openly share their design specifications, bills of materials or provide access to replacement parts to third-party repair providers. Repair providers must engineer their own solutions to the failures presented. Innovatus Imaging is an FDA-registered manufacturer for ultrasound probes supplied to major OEMs with an acoustic laboratory in Denver, Colorado. The company has personnel very well-experienced in ultrasound probe design, acoustic testing, electrical engineering, material analysis, etc. Ultrasound probe design and manufacturing requires a very specialized knowledge-base, skill sets and instruments. Many of the same processes, technologies, methodologies and testing used in manufacturing are utilized in repair. Very few repair providers have access to such expertise.
Innovatus employs quite a large team of engineers, for both design as well as repair. Teams engineer proven, sustainable repair solutions by careful technical analysis of each probe model on which repair is offered. This can include developing electronic schematics, wiring diagrams, material specifications, acoustic profiles and more. Having this level of data allows the development of repair procedures, based on the design of a particular model versus a general, all-encompassing approach to repair. It also offers and ensures quality, consistency and sustainability – which powers the industry’s longest warranty period.
Whether transducers or widgets, as consumers, we all want something upon which we can depend. Based upon their unique approach to repair, Innovatus customers can feel confident that a repair performed on a specific probe model last week can be consistently performed on others tomorrow, next week and six-months from now. Currently, Innovatus is the only repair provider that publishes a list of over 100 fully repairable transducer models. From cables, strain reliefs, housings, etc., they have a solid, virtually completely internal supply chain that allows them to say, “Yes! Your probe can be repaired.” And repair is always more budget-friendly than replacement.
Due to the technical challenges with newer model probes and the investment needed in R&D, true repair solutions can be hard to find in the third-party industry. When failures arise in today’s newer-technology transducer models, many are exchanged, at costs over $20,000, versus repairs costing a fraction of that. Innovatus Imaging has developed significant, proven, sustainable repair solutions on the Philips X8-2t, X7-2t, X5-1 and GE 6VT-D. On all these models, quality repair solutions are available by addressing failures across ALL repairable components. As technology advances and demand increases for budget-friendly solutions, Innovatus Imaging will remain focused upon developing capabilities consistent with customer needs.
Ultrasound probe technology has significantly advanced over the last few years. Be sure to partner with a service provider who has advanced along with the technology you support.”
For more information on how Innovatus Imaging can help to reduce your service budget with quality, sustainable repairs for MRI coils and US probes, please contact Matt Tomory, VP Ultrasound Center of Excellence at MattT@innovatusimaging.com.
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