Medical Industry

Medical Industry Challenges

Modern healthcare would not be conceivable without the use of plastic materials. Polymeric materials have transformed the medical industry by increasing sterilization and safety, improving patient comfort, and lowering the overall cost of treatment around the world.

Polymer materials provide the increased flexibility and durability needed for a range of uses from eyeglass frames and lenses to artificial hip and knee joints. Plastics used in medical and pharmaceutical packaging deliver the exceptional sealing and barrier properties required, all at a much lighter weight. 

Medical, biomedical, and pharmaceutical applications have demanding requirements and unique environmental conditions, especially when those applications have close interaction with the human body. Understanding sterilization compatibility, anti-static range, creep and corrosion resistance, durability under thermal conditions, dielectric strength, rate of friction, and biocompatibility are essential for selecting the right polymer and thermoplastic materials unique to this market.

High-Performance Polymer Products for Medical Applications

Complex medical device design, development, and production applications necessitate precision, strict tolerances, validation, and often rapid delivery. The medical, biomedical, and pharmaceutical industries rely on high-performance materials like thermoplastics, elastomers, and fluoroelastomers for numerous applications.

Polymers are used to create medical equipment device housings and enclosures; oxygen concentrators and compressors for medical applications; labware and diagnostic equipment; radiation and non-radiation based medical devices; medical packaging; lab trays and kits; catheters and tubing; drug delivery systems (DDS); medical implants; and beyond.

The following list is a sample of the many products manufactured using high-performance polymer products for the medical, biomedical, and pharmaceutical industries:

  • Class I, Class II and Class III medical devices
  • Implantable medical devices
  • Hip and Knee replacement 
  • Spinal fusion
  • Foot and Ankle medical devices
  • Cardiac Rhythm Devices
  • Neuromodulation Devices
  • Ophthalmic Devices
  • Orthopedic Devices
  • Vascular Devices
  • Catheters
  • Medical Device products
  • Piston cups and piston rings
  • O-Rings and polymeric seals

Trusted High-Performance Polymers for Medical Applications

The use of polymeric materials has had a significant impact on the evolution of contemporary medicine over the last few decades. Biological, synthetic, and hybrid polymers are employed in a variety of medical applications, including surgical sutures, implants, regenerative medicine scaffolds, dental devices, hearing aids, and drug delivery systems.

Many of these new materials deliver a more reliable level of physical separation, sanitation, and patient safety. This, in turn, reduced the rate of infectious diseases, improved pain management and increased patient comfort, delivered life-sustaining medications, and increased life expectancy around the world.

Higher-performance polymers, medical-grade plastics, and thermoplastics offer long-term benefits to patients and the healthcare industry. CDI is actively developing materials to increase wear life and reduce friction and energy loss, key performance characteristics for crucial medical equipment like oxygen concentrators.

Some of the other materials in CDI’s material portfolio with the right characteristics and properties for medical applications include:

  • Acetals
  • Carbon Fiber PEEK
  • FEP (Fluorinated ethylene propylene
  • PAI (Polyamide-imide) - Torlon®
  • PEI (PolyetherImide)
  • PSU (Polysulfone)
  • Propylux® HS2
  • PFA (Perfluoroalkoxy alkanes)
  • PPSU (Polyphenylsulfone)
  • PPSU (polyphenylsulfone) - Radel® 
  • Silicone (Liquid Silicone)
  • UHMW-PE - Implantable
  • Ultem (Colored)

It is important to note that for some medical applications, materials must be FDA-approved or approved as life-science-grade (LSG) polymer materials.

Commonly Used Manufacturing Processes for Medical Applications

With the highly critical nature of components and products for medical, biomedical, and pharmaceutical applications, manufacturing of those products must meet the highest level of safety, quality, and reliability. With vertically integrated manufacturing, CDI provides far more than mere part production. With over 30 polymer manufacturing processes, our team of skilled machinists, operators, and technicians use cutting-edge processes and technology to manufacture the highest quality seals, wear products, and functional components.

Backed by extensive research, testing, and manufacturing capabilities, our design and development team often work together with our customers to design performance polymer products which meet the unique application specs and environmental conditions.

In the medical, biomedical, and pharmaceutical market, some of the most used manufacturing processes include clean and climate-controlled medical manufacturing (Class 7); dry-machining technology; 5-axis machining; enhanced marking capability (machining and laser for complete traceability of instruments and implants); microblast deburring; molded components (including micro-, insert- and over-molded); tight tolerance, precision machined components; injection molding; single cavity prototype molds; multi-cavity hardened steel production tooling, and more.

CDI has invested in automation of billet manufacturing, machining, and thermoforming to better respond to increased global demand for the ever-growing market demand of the complex medical industry.

The Top 6 Thermoplastics Trusted in the Healthcare Industry