Category Archives: Parts Dirt

Are OEM Parts Better than Parts from Elsewhere?

A recent ad in 24×7 Magazine suggests that only Siemens sells real OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts.   This ad (at the end of this article) is very misleading, as it is intended to be.  Everybody sells original OEM parts.  No one but the OEM make parts for medical equipment.  There is a thriving alternate source for medical equipment components, circuit boards and other parts that break.  The reason that this market exists is because other companies besides the original OEM can repair and resell parts much more inexpensively than the OEM can.

Oh, and another thing – many OEMs would have you believe that the parts they sell are brand new, unlike the old, traded-in parts that other companies would sell you.  Well, not true.  Why do you think that everybody (including the OEMs) require a trade-in of the broken part when you buy a replacement part?  It is so they can repair and resell it, just like the third party independents do.

I know of a hospital system in Milwaukee that tracked out-of-the-box failures of newly received medical parts.  The OEMs parts failed at a higher rate than those parts received from alternate sources.

And let me tell you about the claim of savings of “up to 40%”.  “Up to” means that all parts are not included at the maximum discount.   Additionally, the 40% refers to 40% from the original price of the part – the suggested retail price.  Every biomed and clinical engineer in the US knows that 40% off of list is nothing.  Real OEM parts can be found from many sources at discounts far exceeding the 40% advertised in this ad.

The real message here is that advertisements are full of misleading information.  You have to read everything with a skepticism born of experience.    Have a wonderful day.    Pat

Siemens Ad

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Examples of Restrictive Products from Apple

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January 23, 2013 · 3:51 pm

Making Equipment Hard to Service

This article refers to general technology, including computers.  But I am sure that there are a lot of additional ways that Medical Device manufacturers deliberately make it hard for others to field repair their devices.  Anybody want to comment on their observations?    Pat

Five ways manufacturers make devices hard to repair

August 16, 2012, 10:27 AM PDT

Takeaway: Bill Detwiler shows you five ways manufactures are making our gadgets harder to fix and gives you tips on working around these self-repair roadblocks.

Computers, smartphones, and tablets are smaller, thinner, and lighter than ever before. But to build today’s ultra-slim, ultra-portable devices, designers and engineers often make their creations more difficult, if not impossible, to repair.

On this special episode of Cracking Open, I show you five ways manufactures are making our gadgets harder to fix and give you a few tips on working around these self-repair roadblocks.


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1. Tamper-resistant screws

Tamper-resistant pentalobe screw on the MacBook AirTamper-resistant pentalobe screw on the MacBook Air

Our first self-repair roadblock, tamper-resistant screws, aren’t new or unique to computers, but manufacturers are using them on a lot of devices. Nintendo used tri-wing screws on the Wii and Gamecube. Sony used special security torx screws on the slimline PS3. And, Apple uses pentalobe screws on the iPhone, MacBook Air, and Retina MacBook Pro.

Luckily, this roadblock is also the easiest to overcome. With a little online research, you can buy a driver or bit to handle any of these screws.

2. Glued-on components

Unfortunately, some manufacturers are abandoning screws altogether–choosing to glue components in place. And, that’s our second roadblock.

Whether is the iPad’s front panel, Galaxy S III’s ribbon cables, or Retina MacBook Pro’s battery, removing glued-on components can be difficult and risky. And, it’s best not to remove a working component that’s glued in place. If you absolutely must do so, heat can sometimes help weaken the adhesive, but should be used very carefully.

3. Tiny, fragile connectors

If glued-on components weren’t enough, today’s gadgets are also filled with tiny, fragile connectors.

Whether it’s a board-to-board connector or flexible-flat-cable connector, tablets and smartphones are filled with them. The keys to working around this roadblock are a little patience, a light touch, and a few really thin tools.

4. Battery soldered to the motherboard

Up to now, I’ve been able to help you overcome the repair roadblocks on our list. But, the last two aren’t as easy to work around.

At number four is a roadblock that manufactures are using less frequently, but that still appears from time to time–batteries that are soldered to the motherboard.

Favored by some tablet and smartphone manufacturers, there’s no way to replace a battery like this without using a soldering iron or wire cutters. Replacing a soldered battery is definitely an advanced do-it-yourself fix.

5. Fused front/panel display assembly

iPhone 4 fused front panel/display assemblyiPhone 4 fused front panel/display assembly

Lastly, there’s one repair roadblock that’s almost impossible to overcome. And unlike soldered batteries, device manufacturers are actually using it more frequently. It’s a fused front panel and display assembly.

Whether it’s on the Apple iPhone or Google Nexus 7, a fused front panel and display assembly makes repairs more expensive. Because, if one component breaks, you have to replace both. And while it’s sometimes possible to separate the two components, you often risk damaging the working half in the process. It’s just not worth the risk.

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Humphrey Instruments Lens Analyzer – Zeiss won’t sell service manual or provide tech assistance

I have a Humphrey Instruments Lens Analyzer which will not capture and save. Zeiss tells me it that it’s likely that the capture switch is at fault. They will sell me the switch, but they warn me that they don’t advise doing the repair without the service manual. When I ask for a part # on service manual, they tell me they won’t sell it to me. When I ask if they would walk me through the repair over phone, you know what their answer is. I of course told the technician what I thought of their approach and policy (I was polite).

Anyway, does anyone have this manual, and could you make the pertinent section available?



Robert Resnicoff CBET, BA

Senior Clinical Engineering Technician

Union Memorial Hospital

Baltimore, MD 21218

[Biomedtalk 8/9/12]

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Microlite Test Box for Nicolet Vasoguard not sold to End Users

I just contacted Nicolet about purchasing the MicroLite Test Box required to perform most of the calibrations detailed in the service manual. They tell me that they do not sell the test box and that I will have to send the unit in. I told them that the service manual does not state that nor did the tech who set the unit up mention this fact.

The manual states: “This section, Servicing & Calibration, covers in detail how to repair and service a VasoGuard in the field. The calibration instructions are supplied for setting up the components of the VasoGuard in the workshop, as specialist equipment is required to perform this task.”   Not “I have to send the unit in for testing”

The manual is very detailed and complete with schematics. But without the MicroLite Test Box I’m stuck with sending in the unit.

Any ideas fellow Biomeds? Have any of you been able to get this box or build one?

Doug Ensley

Valley Regional Hospital

[posted on Biomedtalk 8-8-12]

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Niagara Irrigators (owned by Olympus)

Hi all. Our surgery department is currently using the Niagara irrigators. Now that ownership has gone to ACMI then to Gyrus and currently to Olympus, it’s become a real biomed unfriendly situation. Now the only thing I can get for parts is the bladders and nothing else. No rocket science with these, just valves and tubing and fiberglass. Are your surgery departments using something different? Is there a third party parts source for these Niagaras? At an average of $1300 a pop for a minor repair, it’s a hard hit to us financially.

[from Biomedtalk 8-1-2012]

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Stryker Strikes Again!

Posted on Biomedtalk on July 6, 2012.

$tryker has done it again! But I can’t seem to access the “Wall of Shame” lately (, so please help if you have an updated link.

Previously we’ve been systematically price gouged by $tryker:
– their proprietary $1345.55 xenon lamp for the X8000 light source
– their $586.50 power supply for their LCD monitor (which I found elsewhere for under $40).

Now we have the Stryker SDP1000 printer; which is simply a re-branded Sony UPDR80MD printer.  This is actually a really great dye sublimation printer, which uses “Self-laminating Roll Media”.   But we’re sick of paying $tryker for their overpriced media (print packs).   Stryker charges $400 for a 2-pack of roll media (100 pages max), when we could get the Sony version (UPCR81MD) for about 60% less!

 We ordered a Sony print pack to test it, and naturally the Stryker SDP1000 gives a ‘ribbon error’ when trying to use the Sony ribbon.  I popped the “IC tag chip” out of an old Stryker ribbon and put swapped it with the Sony IC tag chip.  Still no go.  The chip not only identifies the paper (8×10 vs. A4), but it also works as a ‘fuel gauge’ to let the printer know how much unused ribbon is left on that particular spool.  And, of course, Stryker chips won’t work in the Sony printer, and Sony chips won’t work in the Stryker printer; even though the ribbon itself is IDENTICAL.

 Gone are the days when a company would make a living by producing a quality product.  Now companies like $tryker get filthy rich by forcing the consumer to buy overpriced consumables ONLY FROM THEM.

 How to get around it?

– Learn to reset the Stryker chip counter (I have a few Stryker chips if anyone is inclined to help out).

– Find a way to reconfigure the SDP1000 printer back to its Sony roots, so it will accept the Sony ribbon.

– Stop buying from $tryker, and build our own video towers with non-proprietary equipment.

 I’m tempted to trial a Sony UPDR80MD printer, and see if our Stryker video capture units will communicate with it.  Yet I doubt it, because the only printers we’re “allowed” to use are those for which Stryker loads the drivers.  If the Sony printer *did* work, it would be a matter of time before Stryker came out with a ‘firmware update’ for our capture units, preventing us from using the Sony printers (much like Apple updates will ‘repossess’ a jail-broken device).


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