Plastics and rubber have been one of the important raw materials for medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging and, as the industry rapidly develops, a variety of high-performance plastics and technologies for medical devices are emerging. In addition to conventional plastics, such as PP, PVC, PE and silicon rubber, that are commonly used in the medical device industry, some high-performance materials, such as polyether ether ketone (PEEK), biocompatible polycarbonate (PC) and thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), are also important materials that drive the development of medical industry.
PEEK, for its strong resistance to corrosion, hydrolysis and chemicals and laziness to body fluids, can be used to make implantable medical devices, such as gastrointestinal stents and implantable fluid pumps, to alleviate the pain in patients caused by conventional paracentesis, and medical polycarbonate, for its biocompatibility, strong corrosion resistance and non-breakability, is the material of first choice in making capsule endoscope shells.
The increasing progress in medical plastics developed for the medical industry and in processing technologies drives manufacturers of medical devices and disposable medical products to improve production efficiency and product quality to meet the growing market demand and numerous business opportunities.
Characteristics and application of common medical plastics
1. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Medical plastic products made of PVC account for 25% in the current market mainly because of the low cost, wide range of applications and easy processing of PVC. PVC products in the medical sector include hemodialysis pipelines, breathing masks and oxygen tubes.
2. Polyethylene (PE)
UHDPE, enjoying high impact strength, low friction, stress crack resistance and sound energy absorption, is the ideal material for artificial hips and knee and shoulder connectors.
3. Polypropylene (PP)
Medical PP, of sound transparency, barrier performance and radiation resistance, is widely used in the medical device industry and packaging industry. PP and other non-PVC materials are current mainstream substitutes of PVC materials.
4. Polystyrene (PS) and K-resin
PS is the third most widely used variety of plastics following PVC and polyethylene, and is usually processed and applied as monocomponent plastics. It is characterized by lightweight, transparency and easy coloring, and can be easily shaped.
K-resin, the product of copolymerization of styrene and butadiene, is an amorphous, transparent, tasteless and non-toxic polymer with a density of around 1.01g/cm3 (lower than that of PS and AS), higher impact resistance than PS, sound transparency (80% to 90%) and heat deflection temperature of 77°C. The hardness of K-resin is determined by the content of butadiene in it. For its sound fluidity and a wide range of processing temperatures, K-resin is easy to be processed.
PS and K-resin are mainly used as medical packaging materials.
5. Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)
ABS is rigid, hard, impact resistant, chemical resistant, radiation resistant and ethylene oxide disinfection resistant to some extent. In the medical industry, ABS is mainly used to make surgical tools, roller clamps, plastic needles, toolboxes, diagnostic devices and hearing aid shells, especially the shells of large medical equipment.
6. Polycarbonate (PC)
PC is typically characterized by its toughness, strength, rigidity and hot steam disinfection resistance, which make it the material of best choice in making hemodialysis screening devices, surgical handles and oxygen tanks (which can remove carbon dioxide and increase oxygen in blood in cardiac surgeries). In the medical industry, PC is also made into needleless injectors, perfusion instruments, containers for blood centrifuges and pistons, as well as myopic lenses for its high transparency.
7. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
PTFE, for excellent performance, lowest friction among all plastics and sound biocompatibility, can be made into artificial blood vessels and other instruments that can be directly implanted into the human body.
FCS has over 45 years of experience in the research and development of plastic injection molding machines and can satisfy various demands of customers on products and provide stable production quality. FCS’s advanced servo hydraulic injection molding machines and two-component injection molding machines are popular among customers, and a lot of customers used FCS’s servo power-saving injection molding machines during the outbreak of COVID-19 to produce safety goggles to support the fight against the pandemic.
FCS has been leading the industry in the field of multi-component molding with advanced technologies. The two-component injection molding machine it develops the maximum clamping force up to 1,900 tons. It is equipped with a closed-loop servo valve and new single cylinder injection construction as well as patented rotary positioning clamper and other technologies to achieve stable actuation and precise positioning. Rotary table two-component injection molding machine (FB-160R) enables the automatic production of oxygen masks for medical use, being a multi-component injection molding technology highly recognized by users.
CT-e all-electric injection molding machines are the optimal solution to precise plastic parts. With injection speed up to 300 mm/s and repeat accuracy of injection site up to 0.01 mm, they are of high injection accuracy and fast injection acceleration that cannot be realized in machines with only closed-loop servo valves. Such advantages, together with immunity to oil contamination and temperature, stability in processing and being precise, stable, efficient, power saving and environmentally friendly, make CT-e all-electric injection molding machines applicable to the medical industry.