It’s a familiar, if unfortunate, scene that is burned on the retinas of millions around the world: hazmat-suited medical personnel inserting nasal swabs into the noses of drivers or pedestrians, collecting specimens to be tested for COVID-19. These nasopharyngeal swabs/syringes, which have been used in hospitals for more than 50 years consist of two pieces: an injection-molded plastic handle and a tip made of an absorbent material such as cotton, polyester, or nylon.
Each swab/syringe is manufactured in a multi-step process, then assembled, sterilized, and packaged, all of which requires significant time and expense. While these traditional plastic injection molded medical devices will no doubt play an important on-going role in the fight against COVID-19, another alternative has emerged: a one-piece plastic swab.
While early prototypes were produced via costly and slower 3D printing, millions are now being churned out through a vastly simplified, vastly faster, and vastly cheaper, one-step plastic injection process. Moreover, while only a relatively few suppliers have 3-D printing expertise, there are thousands of producers around the world who have conventional plastic injection molding capability.
There was only one problem, well, actually several challenges:
- invent a plastic medical device which has never been seen before
- design a mold for that device
- create a viable plastic injection production process, including quality control
- design sturdy packaging
- conduct clinical trials
- obtain approval from governments around the world
- ship it to testing centers around the world
— and do all of the above in a matter of weeks!
But it happened. And millions of lives, both now and in the future, will be saved through the application of cutting-edge creativity and good old-fashioned plastic injection know-how.
Advantech Plastics is proud to be at the forefront of the crash development of these and other plastic-injection molded medical devices. As a partner with other manufacturers, distributors and, ultimately, healthcare providers, we will continue to play a vital role in the battle against this devastating pandemic.