Selecting the right medical-grade plastic for your medical device components is a crucial part of manufacturing. Let’s take a deep dive into the different types of plastic used in medical devices today and the wide range of components you can produce with them.
Plastics used in medical device manufacturing are synthetic or semi-organic polymers made of oil or petroleum to make it easy to shape and form the material into a medical device component.
Using polymers to manufacture medical device components is preferred to using metal because polymers are more resistant to chemicals than metals, and polymer and composite materials are up to ten times lighter than typical metals.
Polymers are classified into three group types:
- Thermoplastics: Branched or linear polymers with melting and molding properties
- Thermosets: Cross-linked polymers that are typically rigid and intractable
- Elastomers: Rubbers that stretch and spring back when stress is released
The following thermoplastics are some of the most common types of plastic used in medical device injection molding:
ABS is typically used in 3D-print manufacturing for medical devices. Equipped with heat-resistant properties, this thermoplastic polymer is an excellent metal substitute for structural parts. ABS can be injection or blow-molded, extruded, melted, or reshaped. It can also withstand a variety of different medical sterilization methods like gamma radiation or ethylene oxide (EO). It’s used to manufacture tracheal tubes, non-absorbable sutures, tendon prostheses, and drug-delivery systems.
Polypropylene can be configured to be a biocompatible thermoplastic with high chemical resistance that withstands stress, cracking, impact, and fatigue. Polypropylene is typically used to manufacture disposable syringes, connectors, and finger-joint prostheses with high melting-point properties.
A thermoplastic polymer with excellent UV protection properties, polycarbonate (PC) is a type of plastic used in medical devices that’s naturally transparent, making it a good alternative to glass components. It’s relatively shatter-resistant, and medical-grade polycarbonate can withstand multiple sterilization methods like steam, gamma radiation, and EO.
Polyethylene, or polythene, is a cost-effective type of plastic used in medical device manufacturing to develop surgical implants. It’s impact and corrosion-resistant, absorbs minimal water, and maintains structural integrity during multiple sterilization processes.
Also known as nylon, polyamide is a synthetic polymer used as a weaker metal alternative due to its strength, inflexible properties, high-temperature resilience, and chemical resistance. It’s a good option for producing plastic components for medical devices using CNC machining, injection molding, or 3D printing. Polyamide can also be combined with other medical-grade materials to improve its strength.
The type of plastic used in your medical device isn’t the only thing you should consider during manufacturing. You should also consider which components your product needs.
Different types of plastic components for medical devices include:
- Surgical components and equipment
- Implant components
- Drug delivery components and equipment
- Housing and casings for lab equipment
CNC milling can also be used to manufacture plastic parts for medical devices. The process creates unique medical component shapes and designs for a wide range of products like:
- Medical implants
- Surgical instruments
- Ultrasound equipment
- Pacemaker parts
Most of our customers aren’t sure which type of plastic fits best with their design—that’s where we come in. At Remington, we help you select the right medical-grade plastic for your device based on environmental exposure, its life cycle, and overall functionality. We work with different types of plastic used in medical device manufacturing processes that are FDA and ISO compliant, from ABS to PVC. Our team also has experience in using some proprietary resins like carbon-infused polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), acrylics, and ABS/PC blends. Remington’s engineering team builds your selection into our process, keeping regulatory and compliance requirements in mind. If your device is categorized as a Class III, we use PEEK material that meets biocompatibility compliance requirements. With us guiding you through every step of the manufacturing process, you get a single-source medical device manufacturer and a high-quality product. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you choose the right medical-grade plastic for your device.
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