There is undoubtedly increasing focus on safety and materials of concern from global regulatory bodies. One current material type of interest in this regard is Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs), specifically as an alternative to PVC materials. The benefits of TPEs are many, including that they have both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties, require little compounding with no need for reinforcing agents or stabilizers, and demonstrate advantages typical of both rubbery materials and plastic materials.A key characteristic of TPE is its resilience with the ability to stretch and return to its original shape. As it is DEHP-free, and plasticizer-free, TPEs offer a viable alternative to plasticized PVC tubing. Medical device manufacturers looking to use TPE will typically be assembling TPE to itself as well as to other materials, which brings the different substrate into scope.
For TPE to TPE assemblies, the high degree of non-polarity requires assembly with non-polar solvents or a different means of assembly. To join TPE with polar substrates — like PC or ABS — the solvent welding does not work properly. The difference in polarity of the non-polar TPE and the polar substrate will not support proper polymer-to-polymer connection. While there is no single universal solution for all surfaces, there are innovative adhesive and substrate pre-treatment solutions available to assist in the connection of difficult-to-bond materials.
Beyond enabling the assembly of different substrates, adhesives have also been selected by medical device manufactures to lower manufacturing costs. Adhesives, in place of solvent, can increase operational efficiency by reducing scrap, decreasing cycle times, automating production, and enable in-line QC testing. Moreover, adhesives have also been specified in support of sustainability and safety initiatives.
Have you faced any of the challenges raised here? Are you willing to share solutions?
Interested in smart medical devices? Check out this published article: The Increasing Role of Self-Care Medical Devices for Healthcare & Treatment