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X-ray tube market update

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | August 22, 2022
Parts And Service
From the August 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Even the most cutting-edge X-ray-based technology is useless without a tube to keep it running. While many leading CT manufacturers like Siemens, GE, Canon, and Philips build their own tubes, there are other companies with a more singular focus on tube production.

Some companies, (like Varex, Chronos Imaging and Dunlee) provide tubes to manufacturers and also serve the replacement and refurbished market. Others (like Richardson Healthcare) focus exclusively on replacement tubes without original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partnerships.

HealthCare Business News checked in with some of the leading tube companies to find out how technology is evolving, what innovations are happening with tube maintenance and service training, and how the global supply chain’s recent woes factor into all of this.

Quieter, longer lasting LMB tubes
For several years now, a trend toward liquid metal bearing (LMB) tubes has defined the higher-end CT market. Dunlee, a brand of Philips and leading CT tube manufacturer, serves the OEM and replacement markets, and has been focused on expanding the reach of its LMB tube, bringing it to more radiology departments around the U.S. and Europe, says Guido Stoeckmann, regional sales manager for Dunlee.

Dunlee’s DA200P40+LMB tubes, designed for GE Revolution Evo and Optima CT660 CT scanners, are manufactured in Illinois through a partnership with Chronos Imaging and have been well received by servicers and providers seeking an alternative to OEM tubes.

“We’re finding that facilities with high patient throughput are seeking LMB technologies, and they’re also well-suited to emergency departments given their ability to be instantly ready, without needing to wait for the anode to speed up,” says Stoeckmann. “LMB CT tubes are prized for their long life, made possible because the liquid metal bearing doesn't create friction, so there is less wear. The tube also features a quieter sound pattern for smooth operation and a pleasant patient experience.”

Another key advantage of LMB tubes is that they’re more conducive to removing heat from the tube, which can improve throughput and scanner life, says Pat Fitzgerald, president of Chronos Imaging. His company serves the replacement and OEM CT tube markets, and is the contract manufacturer for LMB tubes for Dunlee.

For all their benefits, LMB tubes are still mostly reserved for higher-end CT scanners. Other systems remain well served by conventional ball bearing tubes, which are more affordable.

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