Specialty polymers for medical device manufacturing
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Medical Equipment

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Medical equipment is a broad application segment for polymer materials, spanning across several sub-markets including, diagnostics, general surgery and labware, to name a few. Products range from small articles located within a hospital setting to large scale equipment used in patient imaging. 

Diagnostics 

SEBS and other thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are often used in diagnostic equipment, such as endoscopes and catheters. SEBS is often the base material for reusable endoscopy tubing due to its inherent elasticity, chemical resistance and abrasion resistance. In addition, SEBS also serves as a common over-mold material for ergonomic handles, grips and controls used in catheter applications, where non-slip characteristics are crucial. 

Engineering resins, such as Rilsan® and Rilsamid® polyamides are also in demand for injection molded components used in diagnostic testing equipment and surgical instruments. Low durometer grades of polyether block amide, such as Pebax® 2533 SA 01 MED can be over-molded on instrument handles to provide a soft grip to improved comfort for clinicians. 

General Surgery

Sulfone based resins, including Radel® polyphenylsulfone is replacing stainless steel for surgical sterilization trays and kits due to its compatibility with autoclave sterilization methods.

In addition, other polymers including SMMA, engineering TPUs, polyolefins (PE & PP), as well as polysulfone(s) are being used for small and large equipment housings within the operating room. 

Polycarbonate (PC)  and ABS are also being used in the manufacturing of pumps, oxygenators and defibrillators. For information on additional materials used in surgical respiratory products, see Breathing Systems.

Labware

In labware applications polymers and glass are common manufacturing materials. In particular, acrylic including SMMA is used in the manufacturing of holders, dispensers, containers and storage systems, while polypropylene homopolymers are used to make products where strength, autoclavability, and stress-crack resistance are needed, such as carboys, autoclave baskets, and vacuum flasks.