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Plastics & Elastomers

Medical Molding and Tubing Solution Advances!

Donald Rosato – Oct 18, 2019

TAGS:  Medical    

Leading injection-molding machinery manufacturers are driving an increasing number of applications in the medical industry. Emerging materials and techniques are advancing improvements in the extrusion of medical tubing.

Let’s take a look at some interesting new medical molding and tubing solutions advances...

Plastic Part Molding Developments

Arburg’s Freeformer Additive Manufacturing Technique

Starting off, the growing medical market need for individualized therapies is requiring small production runs that fit well with machinery manufacturer Arburg’s Freeformer 3D part printing technology.

  • Freeformer printed parts can be manufactured from existing 3D printing qualified materials and color additives, medical TPE (ThermoPlastic Elastomer), and medical PLA (PolyLactic Acid) grades.
  • 3D printed finished parts include cranial and facial implants made from Corbion’s PURASORB® PL18 grade PLLA (Poly (L-LActide) bioplastic, and individually tailored ventilation masks from Teknor Apex’s Medalist® MD 12130H grade TPE (ThermoPlastic Elastomer), all medically approved materials.

Arburgs Freeformer 3D Printed Individualized Medical Parts
Arburg Freeformer 3D Printed Individualized Medical Parts for Medication (L), Cranial Implants (C), and Auxiliary Products (R)

Moldworx’s Overmolding Process for Hypodermic Needles

Next, US-based custom molder Moldworx has advanced a high productivity, low-cost overmolding to make hypodermic needles.

  • It involves specialty-built molds to which medical-grade plastics can be molded around stainless steel syringe-type needles. These needle diameters can be as narrow as 0.012 inches or 0.305 millimeters. This Moldworx process replaces needles that have been previously glued in place in a standard lengthwise molded tube handle cavity.
  • A four-cavity production mold is used with a robot indexed stainless steel syringe in mold placement after a camera-based quality control check of the syringe that is selected from a bulk pack. This improved process represents a four-fold increase in production while reducing previous costs by half.

Moldworx Automated Overmolding of Syringe Needles Process
Moldworx Automated High Productivity / Cost Reducing Overmolding of Syringe Needles Process

ENGEL’s 2-Part Molding for Medical Housing

In our third and final medical-molding technology, machinery supplier ENGEL has advanced two-part molding for medical housing-type applications. The overall goal here is to reduce cycle time. The key here in the molding process is to reduce cooling time.

  • When a part is single component molded, its wall thickness remains constant for structural purposes. It has already been optimized to its thinnest dimension, and there is no opportunity to further reduce cycle time.
  • Conversely, in ENGEL’s two-component process two-thin-material layers are injected, they in turn cool quicker, and that translates into reduced part cycle time. Additionally, production efficiency increases as a result of both of these material injection steps taking place simultaneously.

An ENGEL E-motion 310H/170W/160 combi injection-molding, the all-electric machine first injects a Borealis transparent PolyPropylene (PP) layer, followed quickly by a second injected green PP layer, all under tight control by software-managed robots in a spin stack mold. Also, all-electric molding systems such as ENGEL’s machine has an oil-free production that is ideal for medical cleanroom manufacturing.

ENGEL Shorter Cycle Time Two-Component Medical Vial Molding Process
ENGEL Shorter Cycle Time Two-Component Medical Vial Molding Process

Medical Tubing Innovations

Raumedic’s Polymer and Wire Co-Extrusion

Continuing, our first of three medical tubing advances is centered on Germany-based Raumedic’s coextruded wire-in-tube technology. Integrating a wire-in effect creates smart medical tubing where, for example, a catheter can quantify a number of real-time patient parameters such as relevant body location pH, temperature, or oxygen percentage, with the collected data then being transmitted wirelessly.

In addition, a wire embed tube will be bending resistant important for endoscope and vein/body cavity cannula procedures. A broad range of specialty wire materials can be coextruded into their medical tubing that includes:

  • Stainless steel
  • Nickel-titanium alloy
  • Copper, and
  • Platinum-iridium

Controlled wire tubing extrusion needs to carefully maintain consistent circularity or eccentricity, uniform wall thickness, and eliminate any pin hole flaws.

Raumedic Embedded Stainless Steel Wire Medical Tubing and Functions as a Data Transmitter
Raumedic Embedded Stainless Steel Wire Medical Tubing and Functions as a Data Transmitter

INEOS Styrolution’s S-TPE for Medical Tubing

Next, INEOS Styrolution has advanced material optimization in multilayer medical tubing design. They have developed a novel Styroflex® 4G80 TPE (ThermoPlastic Elastomer) that incorporates:

INEOS’ TPE also exhibits strong tubing kink resistance. It adhesively bonds well to IV (IntraVenous) system parts. It is cost-competitive and provides a viable competitor to PolyVinyl Chloride (PVC) ease of roller clamping.
INEOS Styrolution Multilayer Medical Tubing
INEOS Styrolution TPE Rubber-like / Puncture-Resistant Multilayer Medical Tubing

LyondellBasell's PP Plastomer for Impact Resistant Tubing

In our third and final medical extruded tubing technology, material supplier LyondellBasell working in concert with specialty extrusion equipment supplier Maillefer, a division of Davis-Standard, has developed a polyolefin alternative to traditional PolyVinyl Chloride (PVC).

It is a polybutene-based PolyPropylene (PP) plastomer, Purell KT MR 07 that is plasticizer-free, one-fourth lower in density versus PVC, transparent, and flexible. It is a high productivity grade capable of extrusion rates of up to 250 meters per minute when run on Maillefer’s PML-32 medical equipment line.

Lyondell Basell PP Plastomer Medical Tubing
LyondellBasell PP Plastomer Low Temperature Tough / Impact Resistant Medical Tubing

Plastics Professionals – Stay Alert!

Assess opportunities for your plastics in healthcare applications (implants & prostheses, wearables, diagnostic equipment, drug packaging & delivery systems...) by reviewing material requirements, major trends and unmet needs your expertise could fulfill. Take the course "Medical Plastics: Innovations & Opportunities" by Donald Rosato today!

Recently Launched Polymers Suitable for Medical Applications

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