The current plastics revolution in the medical industry shows no signs of slowing down, as ongoing research into innovative polymers, improved processing techniques, and novel post-processing technologies are expanding the possibilities for plastics throughout the medical industry.
Advancements to polymers and injection molding technologies have contributed to widespread adoption of plastics in the medical industry.Low cost plastics, for example, have enabled the creation of disposable plastic instruments, syringes, gloves and gowns that, in turn, help reduce the spread of infections within the hospital environment. Plastics have also replaced glass in a variety of laboratory consumables, improving lab safety while reducing consumable costs.
Likewise, high performance polymers contribute to the longevity and friction-free movement found in current generation artificial joints. Handheld medical devices and instruments also use plastics to reduce device weight, improve functionality and/or lower device cost.
An Ever-Changing Process
Medical Injection molding processes continue to evolve. At the design stage, rapid prototyping allows molders to create physical prototypes to verify form, fit and function before finalizing the mold design. Advancements to mold simulation software gives molders a detailed look into mold filling and helps to identify issues early in the
Advancements to control technologies improves repeatability and gives better control over process variables, which translates into precise molding of even the most intricate parts. Together these molding technology advancements shorten product development time, reduce development costs and open the door to a range of new
The Growth of Polymer Science
Polymer science continues to be an exciting area of development in the field of medical injection molding. New materials and additives exhibit improved stability, reduced shrinkage and other properties that deliver improved performance in molding applications. Additionally, the mechanical strength of polymers continues to evolve, allowing them to be viable substitutes for metals in a range of applications.
Beyond the physical properties of the materials, the work on next generation polymers seeks to incorporate unique functional properties to the polymer. One example is the incorporation of antimicrobial materials in injected molded plastics, inhibiting bacterial growth on the molded part.
The development of various post-molding processes further expands the suitability of plastics into a range of applications. Processes like ultrasonic welding and laser micromachining continue to evolve and are compatible with a range of medical plastics. These secondary operations simplify assembly of complex plastic components and provide new possibilities for device designers
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