21 Apr 2023 -

How the helium shortage is impacting the medical devices industry

medical devices

Helium is a non-renewable ‘inert’ gas that is widely used in manufacturing, especially in semiconductors, because it does not react with other elements. Also, because helium has high thermal conductivity, it conducts heat away effectively, which helps to control the temperature of the silicon during the manufacturing process and makes miniaturization of the semiconductors possible.

In particular, it plays a major role in the medical device industry, providing coolant for lasers used in surgical procedures or being incorporated into other types of equipment used to diagnose or monitor patients’ conditions. As such, any supply disruption can cause delays and contribute to increased costs associated with producing these products.

When the helium supply is disrupted, medical devices are compromised not only by the impact on semiconductor manufacturing but also in a functional way.

One of the main reasons for the shortage of helium is attributed to global production cuts caused by COVID-19. Many countries have placed limits on industrial activities, resulting in decreased economic activity and fewer goods being produced or sold globally. As a result, companies producing helium could not keep up with demand during this period since there was much less raw material available for them to work with.

Another major cause of helium shortages is related to politics and geopolitical events worldwide. For example, US sanctions against Russia’s Gazprom gas company have significantly restricted supplies coming out of Siberia – where much of the world’s natural gas reserves are located – thus creating further disruptions in availability.

In addition, certain Middle Eastern nations such as Qatar have been experiencing political unrest over recent years, hampered their ability to export large amounts of liquefied natural gas (LNG) used to supply liquid helium worldwide.

The current state of affairs provides a unique challenge to those involved in the medical device industry due to their need for reliable access to high-quality and cost-effective helium resources. Without access to sufficient quantities of this rare gas, manufacturers cannot produce high-quality products for hospitals and healthcare professionals.

This lack of availability has resulted in rising costs and delays in production and delivery times. Without access to affordable and reliable sources of helium, companies are struggling to keep up with customer needs while maintaining their margins. These issues can impede patient diagnosis and treatments, resulting in poorer outcomes and higher mortality rates across the board.

To avoid electronics supply-chain disruptions, you may also wish to consult an expert in electronics component supply. With more than three decades of supply-chain expertise, Astute Electronics is ideally placed to work with you on your daily component requirements.

For more help with looking at supply chain options, contact Astute Electronics

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