Plastics and medical devices: Changes for safety and cost

The move toward polypropylene and polyethylene in medical devices requires new manufacturing and assembly solutions such as ultrasonic and laser welding.

Didier Perret, Emerson

Emerson’s Branson GSX Ultrasonic Welding Platform [Photo courtesy of Emerson]

Plastics are ubiquitous in medical applications thanks to their light weight, durability and flexibility, among other attributes. However, concern has been increasing in recent years about the possible negative effects of some ingredients and components in certain plastics. This is leading medical-device companies to research and use other resins or combinations of plastics without the same risks. However, they do not have the same processing characteristic, and the changes often require companies to implement new production processes, especially around assembly and joining technologies.

For instance, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is used in 40% of all …

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