The latest releases come with microphones and added ausculation capability.
In China's stethoscopes industry, makers have begun paying more attention to electronic models, which boast various advantages over traditional versions. The newer product type can deliver higher output volume and expanded functionality than previous items.
Leading efforts in this niche is Contec Medical Systems Co. Ltd. The supplier launched its first electronic stethoscope fitted with an ECG monitor in 2008.
The manufacturer's subsequent releases utilize electronic sound transmission systems, which employ a microphone on the chestpiece to amplify the auscultatory sounds. Wired earphones that enable volume up to 16 times more than that of nonelectronic versions and have several output settings are likewise included.
Further, the heart auscultation feature standard for the line is being augmented via lung and heart-and-lung capability. Color LCDs can be incorporated as well. Contec's CMS-VE model replaces the metal chestpiece with a piezoelectric sensor for better acoustics. This adds $15 to costs.
In 2010, the company began launching versions that allow data recording and transfer to a computer for consultation, telemedicine and educational purposes. One unit utilizes Bluetooth for wireless connection.
China makers that focus on nonelectronic products, meanwhile, are exerting efforts to raise performance. Select releases from Shanghai Honsun Group Co. Ltd, for example, employ a special alloy that is more effective at noise attenuation than the current zinc alloy. The chestpiece and tubing come in configurations that filter ambient sounds while increasing transmission efficiency.
Patented ergonomic headsets are included.
Other manufacturers of regular stethoscopes are focusing on the optimization of function combinations. Sifang Medical Corp. offers units with dual heads that enable suitability for adult and child use.
The company has likewise released the SF303 model, which swaps the chestpiece head for a heart rate timer. The inclusion increases the price by $2. As the material employed in the chestpiece is a key factor in audio output quality, it is also one of the major determinants of price and market segment.
Metal is predominant, and includes stainless steel, and zinc and aluminum alloy, arranged in descending order of acoustic result and cost. Components in stainless steel are generally used in high-end products that have binaurals in the same input.
Models with alloy chestpieces, on the other hand, utilize brass binaurals.
A number of units incorporate plastic chestpieces. They are composed entirely of the material, and are disposable. Acrylic parts deliver output inferior to that of metal versions but cost as much as zinc alloy components because these allow color and pattern application, and may even come in novelty shapes.
Plastic processing is also more complex with elevated wastage rates.
The tubing systems are often made of PVC. The dual-channel sound transmission method delivers better results than the single-channel type and can be accomplished by twin or double-lumen tubes.
Of these, the latter is said to be superior as it inhibits the friction-generated noise characteristic of the first configuration. It is also employed in many cardiology, and other midrange and high-end models. Dual-tube designs, on the other hand, are among the features of Sprague-Rappaport stethoscopes.
Most chestpieces come in single- and dual-head constructions. The second type has bell and diaphragm ends, although some items consist of adult and child components instead. For aluminum alloy models, variants in this confi guration are 20 percent more expensive than versions with one part.
In addition, trading firm Shanghai Xuerui Imp. & Exp. Co. Ltd offers a unit boasting patents for its sealed multichannel rotational spindle, high-sensitivity tunable diaphragm and ergonomic headset. The former can revolve up to 120 degrees, and is suitable for a three-head chestpiece for adult, child and fetal application. The diaphragm is utilized only for the first. Prices start at $15.
Sprague-Rappaport stethoscopes often come with detachable dual-head chestpieces, diaphragms for adult and child use, and bells for adults, children and infants. These models generally have dual-tube systems and multiple functions, and are intended for the midrange segment.
Typical releases incorporate zinc alloy chestpieces and are quoted from $1.50 to $4, while versions boasting stainless steel components go for $8.
Conventional products include only one chestpiece. Makers such as Frank Healthcare Co. Ltd offer units that allow replacement of this part, and can come with adult, child and infant alternatives for $3 each.
The chestpiece, binaural, spring and ear tip designs are directly infl uenced by auscultator ergonomics. Single-head chestpieces are confi gured to be easier to grasp while binaural assemblies focus on suitability for the human body.
Dual- and inner-spring constructions boast better elasticity than single and external variants. The utilization of interior springs increases final prices by $0.30.
For ear tips, the material, shape and structure are the main areas of concern. Most parts are made of soft PVC for greater user comfort. They often come in cone and gourd contours. One stethoscope from Frank adopts open-air or watercushioned tips, both of which raise quotes by several cents.
Further, the nonchill ring is the sole concession to patient usage. This can be applied to both bell and diaphragm sides, and contributes minimally to prices.
To boostaesthetics, China makers of stethoscopes are diversifying the available range of chestpiece shapes and colors, finishes for metal components, and hues of PVC tubings and ear tips. This trend comes as a growing number of models with acrylic chestpieces are marketed as promotional items. Print application on diaphragms raises prices by $0.0075 to $0.03.
Contec Medical Systems Co. Ltd
Contec Medical Systems Co. Ltd
Sifang Medical Corp.
Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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