Medical manufacturing requires some of the highest degree of care and precision when creating custom parts. We at Breiner recognize the importance of medical parts, and thus work painstakingly to ensure each material used meets FDA requirements and meets the quality healthcare workers need to support their patients. In this article, we’ll examine what non-metallic materials Breiner uses for medical manufacturing, and how these materials ensure patient longevity and recovery.
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Types of Non-Metallic Materials Used in Medical Manufacturing
Before medical equipment can be distributed to patients and hospitals, all components in medical manufacturing must meet Food and Drug Administration standards. According to U.S. law, all medical equipment must be evaluated for health, safety, and performance quality to ensure the utmost protection to patient wellbeing. While there are various types of non-metallic materials approved for medical manufacturing—such as polymers, plastics, and ceramics—it’s important these materials are reviewed for their biocompatibility or potential risks before being exposed to patients. Let’s look at the common types of non-metallic materials used in medical manufacturing:
Just as the name suggests, thermoplastics are a type of plastic polymer material which can be reshaped or cut when heated. Once shaped to the chosen design, these plastics are cooled and hardened to form custom parts. Since this material is quite malleable, thermoplastics are favored in many industries for manufacturing custom parts—particularly in the medical field for their insulation properties.
The thermoplastics used in medical manufacturing often boast a high range of biocompatibility and adaptability to many important medical devices. For instance, thermoplastics are frequently used as insulation for pacemakers, blood tubing, or blood bags in hospitals holding vital fluids to sustain patient fluids. One thermoplastic material that’s become quite noticeable in healthcare is polyetheretherketone (PEEK). PEEK material has a range of uses in medical care, from stable tubing for life-support devices to even light-weight surgical implants due to its strength and compatibility to the human body. Because it boasts a higher melting point and chemical resistance than other materials, PEEK is also easy to sterilize, making the custom parts safe from potential infection or contamination.
Another type of polymer used in medical manufacturing is thermosets; however, unlike thermoplastics, thermosets can’t be reformed after cooling. With a high melting point and limited opportunity to customize the material, thermosets require quick precision and exact measurements to create non-metallic medical components. Along with this temperature resistance, thermosets are highly durable, standing up to a variety of extreme environmental conditions, such as corrosive chemicals and vibrations.
Thermosets used in medical manufacturing include types of polyesters, epoxies, or various resins used for custom part injection molding. As these materials are commonly used for electrical insulation, thermosets are an ideal material to protect valuable medical equipment with a glossy finish. These devices include X-ray scanners, CAT scanners, and handheld devices such as the temperature scanners used during COVID-19 testing to check patient temperatures while healthcare workers enforce social distancing.
Elastomers are polymer materials with elastic properties that can be reshaped after enduring high stress or pressure. Though unable to withstand the same temperatures as thermoplastics or thermosets, elastomers such as natural rubber, silicone, and neoprene are widely used throughout the medical industry in a variety of devices. Frequently, medical-grade silicone rubber is used during extractions or fluid intake. Important medical equipment using silicone rubber includes heart pumps, balloon catheters, and feeding or drainage tubes for individuals who cannot physically complete those natural functions on their own.
Find Medical-Grade Custom Parts with Breiner Innovative
Medical experts and distributors need to ensure their custom parts are not only FDA medical grade, but also meet the highest quality of standards to support patient care. For decades, Breiner Innovative has proudly worked with medical manufacturers, providing them various custom parts in nitrile, natural rubber, and silicone parts to support the healthcare industry. Through our precision die-cutting, find the best parts you need to ensure patients live happier and healthier lives! Discover all the industries Breiner serves and how we can help complete your next project!