Plastics designed for use in medical devices and hospital equipment have to do multiple jobs, as is made clear in an article by Frank Vinluan, a contributor to our sister publication MD+DI. They must weigh less than metals, and sometimes less than other plastics previously used for the same device design, yet be at least as strong and durable.
As Design News has reported, one of the biggest jobs plastics must perform is to resist the hospital disinfectants used to clean reusable medical devices. Plastics manufacturers and compounders continue to work on developing better materials to achieve this goal, a trend that accelerated in the wake of widely publicized cases of deaths due to failures to clean devices thoroughly. Vinluan's article contains a recent interview with RTP Company's Josh Blackmore on the need for better materials that can stand up to increasingly aggressive chemicals and cleaners used to thwart persistent healthcare-associated infections.
RTP developed a new material specifically to cope with the dual requirements of surpassing the strength and durability of the incumbent materials for these uses, which are PC/ABS (polycarbonate/acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) blends, while also retaining those blends' ease of processing. The recently launched material, RTP 2000 HC, shows no degradation after continuous cycles of cleaning, and it can be used in the existing molds of medical device makers due to a very similar shrink rate.
Vinluan also cites Trinseo's Martin Lindway describing how that company has developed new resins specifically for better resistance to chemicals, cleaners, and disinfectants. Trinseo's Emerge 9000 series is a PC/PET (polycarbonate/polyethylene terephthalate) blend used primarily in the housings of powered medical equipment. It has passed the standard Environmental Stress Cracking test after continuous contact with disinfectant for three days. The resin family also meets medical device designers' toughness, impact strength, heat resistance, and processability requirements.
Read more about this topic in Vinluan's article, "New Plastics Adapt to Changing Medical Needs," on MD+DI.
Ann R. Thryft is senior technical editor, materials & assembly, for Design News. She's been writing about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for 27 years, covering manufacturing materials & processes, alternative energy, and robotics. In the past, she's also written about machine vision and all kinds of communications.
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