Cablecraft Helps Develop Unique Solution For Use In MRI System
Cablecraft Motion Controls was contacted by a large MRI machine manufacturer in search of development assistance for a number of special cables. These cables would be used as components on a new Patient Transporter (TP), Dock and Sliding Bed Top (BT) that would connect seamlessly with the new MRI system. Conventional MRI systems are very expensive bulky and often require special construction/installation conditions (wall removal, floor reinforcement, the use of cranes) and present other challenges. The goal of this project was to develop a new and much smaller MRI system, including an integrated PT/BT combination working seamlessly together. This new system concept would dramatically reduce the footprint/construction issues, lower system along with construction costs, and be much safer in head trauma/emergency environments, including, but not limited to, athletic facilities.
In this system, the patient is placed on the PT/Dock/BT system and taken directly to the MRI machine. Upon the patient’s arrival at the MI Scanner, the PT, Dock and BT system would connect/Dock to the MRI machine via a secure mechanical interlock. The bed, with patient, then move seamlessly into the MRI for the procedure, increasing patient safety as the patient does not have to be repositioned. The new design saves precious minutes, which is of critical importance in trauma/emergency situations.
The PT/Dock/BT system required five cables:
1. A height adjustment on the PT.
2. Foot pedal, cable and linkage control to connect/disconnect the PT/BT to/from the scanner Dock.
3. Cable to release the Bed Top into the MRI (and release the BT from the MRI post-procedure).
4. Cable/latch to position the Bed Top to and release from the Patient Positioner (a bracket for the patient’s head) within the MRI.
5. An emergency disconnect.
As the lead engineer for the OEM was an avid bicyclist, the original prototype cables were bicycle cables. There was a realization, early on, that a better quality, higher performing cable system was required. Cable component materials needed to be more flexible, durable and withstand the significant magnetic fields released by the MRI. The lead engineer provided Cablecraft drawings showing their requirements plus their prototype samples. Cablecraft sent a team of sales and engineering personnel to meet with the OEM for more in-depth application information and analysis. Thus began a collaborative effort among the two teams. Cablecraft began developing various prototypes to find out what would work best in this environment.
Cablecraft joined the effort early in the development cycle and operated as an extension of the OEM design team. Numerous visits were made to the customer along with many conference calls and design review meetings, which precipitated several design concepts. Various prototypes were developed with quick, sub-one-week turnarounds.
The OEM indicated that they were experiencing issues with high friction. As a result, Cablecraft developed a test to pinpoint the root cause of the problem. It was addressed by applying a light film of silicone lubrication and a reduction of degrees of bend in the cable routing.
The customer is extremely pleased with the final designs and is moving ahead with their own pre-production prototype. Three Patient Transporter/MRI Scanner systems are being produced for testing across the country. Assuming successful trials, full production will begin immediately. Cablecraft earned the trust of the OEM and are realized experts in mechanical cable and motion control applications. Increased opportunities with the company may now exist in other Cablecraft product lines.
This project was a great collaboration with the OEM and Cablecraft. The company’s extensive engineering expertise and highly flexible lean manufacturing environment have historically produced a wide range of cost-effective motion control solutions for OEM industrial, commercial, and high-performance applications.