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Plastic Medical Devices: A Healthy Combination

March 25, 2023

Plastics are so ideal for medical devices, it’s “sick”!

Why? Just look at the history: plastics have played a crucial role in the development of medical devices, and their use has revolutionized the field of medicine. From disposable syringes to implantable devices, plastics have made medical treatments safer, more efficient, and cost-effective.

And that’s quite healthy for the plastic injection molding industry.

For starters, they’re extremely versatile:  they can be easily molded into complex shapes, are lightweight, and can be made in different colors, which is particularly useful for distinguishing between devices of different sizes or applications. Furthermore, plastic medical devices are often more affordable than their metal counterparts, making them a cost-effective option for healthcare providers and patients alike.

One of the most widely used plastics in healthcare is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is a synthetic resin that is often used to make tubing, bags, and other medical products. PVC is particularly useful because it is strong, durable, and can be sterilized easily. Additionally, PVC is a malleable material that can be made into soft, flexible products, as well as rigid ones. For example, PVC is often used to make tubing for medical devices, such as intravenous lines, because it is flexible enough to bend and conform to the body, but also strong enough to withstand the pressure of fluid flow. Plastic Medical Device

Another common plastic used in these devices is polyethylene, which is a durable, lightweight material that is used to make items such as syringes, tubing, and packaging. Polyethylene is preferred in many healthcare applications due to its low cost, ease of manufacturing, and resistance to moisture and chemicals. It is also a safe material for use in implantable medical devices, as it is non-toxic and non-reactive.

Polycarbonate is another popular plastic for “implantables.”  Strong, clear, and lightweight, it’s ideal for eye lenses or artificial heart valves. Polycarbonate is optimal for these applications because it is biocompatible, meaning it does not cause an adverse reaction when implanted into the body. It is also strong enough to withstand the constant pressure and movement of the body.

While plastics have been widely adopted in medical devices, there are also concerns about their environmental impact. The disposal of these items an contribute to the growing problem of plastic pollution. However, there are efforts to address this issue, such as the development of biodegradable plastics that break down more quickly in the environment.

Furthermore, there are also efforts to recycle plastics from medical devices that have outlived their usefulness. Recycling not only reduces waste but also reduces the need for new plastics, which can help to mitigate their environmental impact. Additionally, some companies have implemented sustainable manufacturing practices, such as reducing the amount of plastic waste generated during the manufacturing process.

Bottom line:  plastics have had a significant impact on the field of medicine, enabling the development of safer, more efficient, and cost-effective medical devices.  And that’s the right prescription for both healthcare and our industry!


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