Due to the versatility of plastic injection molding techniques, plastic parts are massively replacing metal components of many manufactured goods. Plastic injection molding is a relatively new manufacturing technique for the medical and pharmaceutical industries, as cost-effective medical devices, parts, and components have become a top priority over the years.
This accessible manufacturing process offers countless advantages for a variety of applications. For instance, medical-grade plastics injection molding is utilized to manufacture different medical components, devices, facility and laboratory equipment, and more. Amongst the essential advantages of this manufacturing technique are its ability to meet the exact specifications and harsh regulatory needs of the medical industry, which we’ll review in detail below.
In the following paragraphs, we will first discuss the numerous applications of plastic injection molding within the medical industry. Later, we will reflect on the advantages that this precise manufacturing technique offers to the medical world. We’ll go through the considerations that must be taken into account during the design, planning, and manufacturing process. At last, we are going to take a look at some of the specific materials that fit the bill.
Applications Of Plastic Injection Molding Within The Medical Industry
Many proficient plastic injection molding manufacturers that employ an experienced team of professionals utilize various state-of-the-art medical injection workstations that are devoted to the process of manufacturing parts, components, and products for the medical industry. They manufacture delivery devices for implants, stents, sutures, and offer assembly services for subcomponents of more significant and complex medical devices.
The most commonly produced medical parts with the help of plastic injection molding include:
- medical knobs
- medical enclosures
- surgical blades and instruments
- dental instruments
- drug delivery equipment and components
- numerous housings and casings for laboratory equipment
Advantages Of Medical Device Injection Molding
Medical operators know that the utilization of the plastic injection molding manufacturing technique for the production of various medical parts and components is very beneficial. Plastic injection molding is one of the most effective ways to achieve the quality and specifications they need in a cost-efficient and very effective manner. With the employment of this popular manufacturing technique, smart medical industry suppliers gain access to several advantages inherent to the process and the materials they use. These advantages include:
- Outstanding accuracy. As millimeters or microns can make the whole difference in the world for the successful performance of a component, tight-tolerance manufacturing is critical in medical device manufacturing. Professional injection molding services can produce a high quantity of parts with outstanding accuracy and negligible variance from piece to piece.
- Cost-efficiency. Injection molding is one of the more cost-effective manufacturing processes available, especially at high volumes of production. Speaking of medical parts and components, they are usually required in bulk, so plastic injection molding is always amongst the most cost-effective options.
- Durability. Many of the materials used in injection molding provide superior strength and durability, resisting rough environments, and vibration without breaking, cracking, or shattering. Also, many materials possess the heat resistance factor so they can be sterilized in an autoclave.
- Contaminant resistance. A significant part of the materials used in medical injection molding are designed to be highly resistant to contaminants and easily sterilized. Besides, the injection molding process itself can meet rigorous FDA and other requirements and standards.
Medical Plastic Injection Molding Considerations
Plastic injection molding’s application within the medical industry is a highly critical process where the stakes of eventual failure can be high. Because of that, a couple of considerations must be taken into account during the manufacturing process, and these include:
- ISO certification and compliance. At the very minimum, a production site that manufactures medical components must meet ISO 13485:2003 standards with additional compliance to Class I, II, or III, depending on the medical devices manufactured.
- FDA regulations. FDA regulations for sterility and cleanliness are a prime consideration for all medical components, both in the manufacturing process and in the parts themselves.
- Ability to be sterilized. The ability to be sterilized is a bare minimum requirement for any medical part or component, whether it interacts directly with the human body or it’s a piece of the equipment of a hospital facility. All materials must be contaminant-resistant and able to be sterilized.
- Material properties. The chosen material for medical parts and components must display specific physical properties for these applications like suitability for extreme environments and durability.
Material Selection For Medical Injection Molding
Now that we talked about the technique’s medical applications, the advantages it puts on the table, and the specific requirements that the produced components must meet, we’ll take a glance at some of the most used materials that fit the bill. Generally, plastics offer various benefits over other materials in terms of flexibility, overall cost-effectiveness, and production speed. Here are the most used materials for medical purposes:
- Silicone. For medical parts and components where design flexibility is a crucial requirement, silicon is often the material of choice. Silicone offers exceptional durability and biocompatibility and is undoubtedly a very cost-effective material at high volume production runs.
- Polyethylene. Polyethylene comes with a high molecular weight, so the material is ideally suited for the surfaces of prosthetics and wearable devices because of its appearance, durability, and material smoothness. The only downside of this material is that it can’t be sterilized by autoclave.
- Polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is one of the most durable materials available, with high vibration and impact resistance. It’s ideal for parts where visibility is a benefit since it can be produced to be almost entirely transparent. Besides, it’s highly resistant to UV light and heat.
- Polypropylene. The perfect material for medical parts and components that must be repeatedly sterilized in an autoclave. Also, it comes with exceptional radiation resistance.
Now you have a complete understanding of how plastic injection molding works and is changing the medical industry for good. Don’t forget to follow the latest trends and innovations in the injection molding technology all the time, since it’s a highly dynamic and ever-changing industry.