A medical professional holding a battery powered medical device

Any equipment used in the front line of surgical or medical applications must meet the stringent requirements and industry standards of this demanding sector.

Steatite has decades of experience in designing, prototyping and manufacturing batteries for use in healthcare settings, and our capabilities in this area are extensive.

What are the common requirements for medical batteries?

The paramount requirement in supplying battery packs for medical applications is reliability. Batteries must run continuously, often for lengthy procedures, without experiencing overheating or variation in discharge performance.

Battery packs must meet rigorous safety standards to prevent any risks of fire, explosions, or leakage of hazardous substances. A BMS (Battery Management System) should be incorporated to provide built-in protection mechanisms, such as protection against overcharge, over-discharge and short-circuiting.

Being able to easily monitor the battery’s state of charge is also essential. Some devices even require a certain threshold capacity before they are operable at all, to ensure that they don’t require changing or charging at a critical point of surgery.

Almost all batteries for use in the medical sector will need to comply with IEC 62133 or its regional equivalent. This is an international standard for the safety of rechargeable batteries, and is a cornerstone for obtaining approval for devices from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other global regulatory bodies.

Our proven expertise

We have several customers in the medical sector who have specified a range of parameters for their power requirements, so we have various tried-and-tested battery designs for this industry.

Examples of existing Steatite battery systems

Patient monitoring systems

We currently supply a battery consisting of 2S3P 18650 cells for a ruggedised ambulatory patient monitoring system, capable of recording and transmitting patient data from first responders directly to A&E departments and receiving hospitals.

The cell selection enables the monitor to perform across the widest operational environments while maintaining and communicating critical patient data. The lithium-ion 7.4V 10.2Ah battery is built and tested to the highest tolerances using free issue plastics maintaining the IP66 rating for the device and its UN certification. It also includes a TI fuel gauge and state of charge LED indicators.

Hand-held surgical power

For another customer, our team has developed power packs for battery-operated tools for bone surgery to deliver consistent, reliable power within a highly-regulated medical environment. The range includes both Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMh), Lithium Ion and Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries. NiMh cells offer good power delivery, tolerate a wide operating temperature, and can be less complex than lithium alternatives. Where runtime and comfort are important, our Lithium based options improve overall energy density including battery capacity-to-weight ratio by around 25% and an increase in delivered power of up to 20%.

Battery-powered ventilators

Another medical customer approached us about providing batteries for its range of portable ventilators. The result was a new rechargeable battery solution that is the sole source of energy for the equipment, including one internal and one external battery, all thoroughly tested and compliant to medical standards.

Powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs)

For these devices, we have designed batteries with bespoke mechanical enclosures fit for respiratory protection in harsh and critical environments, which may be helmet integrated or body worn. We’ve engineered solutions using both NiMH cells, which are recommended for hazardous areas, and Li-ion cells where space, weight, run time and whole life costs are important.

A medical professional wearing a Powered air-purifying respirator

Portable microwave devices

Our battery design skills have also been put to good use for a compact and portable device in the fight against cancer. Our team was involved right from the beginning of a new project and helped guide the manufacturer through the cell selection process, battery design, prototype development, testing and final production. We also designed the electronics for the custom-built charging station.

One stipulation for this project was that the customer requested all our electronics to establish a handshaking protocol in order to operate, meaning that batteries couldn’t be replaced at a later date with alternative models which may not have been tested to the correct medical standards.

Mobile ultrasound

In the veterinary  sector, where adaptability to diverse weather conditions and limited space are the norm, handheld devices are essential tools.

Partnering with IMV, the leaders in veterinary imaging, we supply cutting-edge battery technology that powers their reliable handheld porcine ultrasound devices. This collaboration yields several thousand units annually, demonstrating both companies’ commitment to powering innovation. Together with IMV, we’ve engineered a robust and enclosed power solution, specially designed for monitoring lively piglets in challenging environments. This collaboration showcases our dedication to delivering advanced, reliable, and versatile solutions for the veterinary industry.

Medical carts and UPSs

Another customer in the medical sector has benefitted from our lead acid battery provision for medical carts. These provide an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to provide automated backup power in the event of battery or mains failure. Therefore, it goes without saying that reliability is absolutely critical.

Why choose Steatite?

Our large portfolio of customers in the medical sector prove that we are trusted to deliver reliable and efficient battery solutions to this industry. Many of our designs are already certified to IEC 62133 or UL 62133 and these designs can be quickly customised by our expert team to fit the space, power and performance requirements of a huge range of medical devices and scenarios.

In addition to our proficiency in power, we have further capabilities across the business and can combine solutions beyond just batteries.

For example, we offer a wide selection of computers and panel PCs specifically for medical applications. Many of these are certified to EN60601 and incorporate IP rated enclosures to allow for thorough cleaning, plus the transmission of viruses and bacteria is prevented by anti-microbial housing.

Our imaging business unit, Active Silicon, is a leading provider of imaging products for surgical microscopy, ophthalmology, patient positioning systems and other medical devices. Embedded vision systems support computer vision assisted surgery, frame grabbers enhance image acquisition for digital slide scanners and autofocus-zoom cameras capture and transmit HD video for real-time viewing and training purposes.

If you’re involved with designing and manufacturing medical devices, contact our team to discuss your requirements and see what proven products we can offer or modify to meet your exact needs.