Like most industries, the healthcare industry has changed. But compared with most industries, healthcare and medicine are continuously changing, while at the same time constraints such as costs, quality care, and safety are the top challenges.
That’s reason enough to rank injection molding high on the list of go-to solutions, but there’s more beneficial for health care. To better understand how and why manufacturers use the process, let’s take a look at the merits of plastic injection molding (listed in no particular order):
- Ability to Produce Detail/Complex Geometry
- Ability to Simultaneously Use Multiple Types of Plastic
- Cost Savings
Injection-molded medical devices are a popular solution for manufacturers because they allow products to be built to exact specifications quickly and in complete compliance with regulatory requirements. Medical-grade plastics are used to make the medical devices themselves, such as ventilators, pacemakers, and joint replacements, as well as in the smaller components that make up the device.
Injection-molded medical components are a cost-effective way for device suppliers to meet production and quality needs. In fact, the more products that are needed, the more cost-effective injection molding becomes. The repeatable processes and efficient production methods ensure devices are manufactured to spec, on budget, and in the needed quantities, every time.
Safe and Sterile
The regulatory requirements of many medical devices require that medical device manufacturing plants be held to extremely strict sterilization and sanitation requirements to maintain product safety and integrity. The resins and polymers used in medical device production are resistant to contamination and corrosion while also being easy to sterilize and durable.
Thanks to computer-aided design and the use of robotics in manufacturing, injection-molded medical devices can meet extremely strict levels of accuracy, making it possible to create allows products, parts, and components that have very tight tolerances.
There are thousands of plastic resins to choose from that are easily available on the commercial market. And luckily many of these resins are suitable for medical applications.
These resins have mechanical and chemical properties which are well understood so it’s easy to choose the one that’s most appropriate for its end use and environment. There are resins that are heat stable, chemically resistant, strong, lightweight, biodegradable, and biocompatible. Plastic is increasingly popular when used for prosthetics, replacement joints, or other products that will be in permanent contact with the body.
Patients have directly benefitted from plastic within medical devices. To help combat the growing concern of MRSA and other hospital-borne staph infections, high-tech polymers and “antimicrobial plastic” have been created and used in devices that reduce the risk of infection to patients.
These plastics repel or even kill most bacteria, even on high-touch surfaces, preventing infections. Interestingly, antimicrobial plastics have extremely high effectiveness in killing bacteria even when surfaces aren’t regularly cleaned.
Reduced waste and flexible
Plastics keep medical devices and instruments in service longer versus metal fatigue, corrosion, and use. Metallic devices can wear quicker, while plastics may better withstand stresses due to the plastic’s structural integrity or malleability. This is especially true in re-usable plastics, which have longer useful lives compared to single-use metal devices.
Plastic components are typically cheaper to mass-produce, simply by the cost of ‘raw materials and the speed and high tolerances of the injection mold process. And to replace a component, plastics have proven to give healthcare providers a faster delivery and less downtime.
Plastic components have helped healthcare patients live healthier and happier lives, while at the sea time passing the savings onto the healthcare device manufacturers and healthcare providers. As healthcare continues to improve, so will the use and effectiveness of plastic components.