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Biomedical Polymers and Compounds™


PVC Remains Relevant in Medical Devices

Posted: November 22, 2017

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) represents as much as one-third of the volume of polymers used in the manufacture of medical devices.  Common device applications for PVC include intravenous (IV) tubing and blood bags.  Environmental and health advocates have expressed concerns for years regarding the use of the polymer in medical applications, and the FDA issued an advisory warning regarding the health risks of PVC several years ago; however, this has not stopped the use of this economical polymer in the competitive medical device market.

The Versatility of Medical Thermoplastic Urethanes

Posted: November 17, 2017

Thermoplastic urethanes (TPUs) fall within a class of materials known as thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs).  Yet, TPUs comprise a class of materials unto themselves due to versatility in the polymer chemistry.  As such, there are many types of medical TPUs, with distinctly different properties. 

Medical Plastics That Reduce Hospital Infections

Posted: November 9, 2017

One out of every 25 patients in U.S. acute care hospitals contract a health care associated infection, according to a survey by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  One in every four of these are associated with medical devices. In-dwelling devices, such as central venous (CV) catheters, are particularly susceptible to bacteria colonization which can enter the blood stream.  Antimicrobial additives can be melt compounded into plastics to kill harmful bacteria on the surface of device components.

The Language of Medical Catheter Polymers

Posted: November 2, 2017

Durometer is arguably the most common polymer attribute discussed by medical catheter engineers.  For example, an ‘80A thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)’ reference includes the durometer: 80, A scale. A measure of polymer hardness, durometer is directly applicable to certain catheter requirements. Soft polymer tips minimize vascular trauma. Harder catheter liners are necessary to resist abrasion from wires and instruments. Durometer also correlates to modulus, a measure of polymer flexibility that is important for catheter shafts.

Regulatory Considerations for Medical Polymers

Posted: October 25, 2017

Polymers used for medical devices must meet regulatory requirements specific to the application and geographic region.  Engineers and product designers should be aware of these regulations when specifying polymers for use in medical devices.

Material Price v. Component Cost

Posted: October 20, 2017

Thermoplastics are sold by unit weight (e.g., $/lb, €/kg). However, the material cost for a plastic component must consider component volume and density of the plastic.  For thermoplastics, density is reported as ‘specific gravity.’

Polysulfones in Healthcare Applications

Posted: October 18, 2017

Elastomeric polymers offer flexibility to navigate complex anatomical pathways via catheters.   Modulus, a measure of strength relative to elongation, is the material property that provides a relative comparison of flexibility for these materials. A low modulus implies greater flexibility and is often correlated with lower hardness (Shore scale A and/or D).

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