Commodity thermoplastic materials for medical components

In our last blog we looked at the growth of global medical plastics market, the benefits of using thermoplastics and considerations when choosing a medical grade polymer for manufacturing your medical components and devices. Here, we look in more detail at commodity polymers such as PP and PE and the types of medical components that can be injection moulded using these versatile materials.

Commodity materials used in many medical injection moulded parts are:

  • Polypropylene (PP)
    Offering excellent dimensional stability, PP is a common plastic for injection moulding medical parts. It produces robust components with high chemical resistance that can be reused and cleaned many times including sterilisation using steam. PP is a cost-effective option for reusable equipment and connectors but also disposable devices such as syringes.
  • Polyethylene (PE)
    PE is a versatile polymer that comes in different forms (including HDPE and LDPE) that have varying degrees of rigidity. It has numerous properties such as low moisture absorption, high resistance to chemicals and structural strength. It is also porous and biocompatible so can be used for implants without risk of degrading in situ. Other applications include catheters and PPE equipment.
  • Polystyrene (PS)

    PS is a lightweight, transparent polymer that has high optic clarity, high resistance to gamma radiation and overall good dimensional stability. It also has high electrical insulation. It is a rigid, cost effective polymer that is used for diagnostic components, implants and housings for medical devices.

  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

    ABS is a rigid, high hardness, heat and chemical resistant polymer that is more commonly found in industrial and automotive application but is also frequently used for structural parts in electronic medical devices as it has very low electrical conductivity. Certain grades can be electroplated and metallized for specific applications where this is required. It is ideal for recycling as the polymer can go through many heating and cooling cycles.

The polymers mentioned above are widely used for plastic injection moulding many different types of products. There are, however, new thermoplastics being developed all the time that are increasing in popularity particularly for manufacturing medical components for the healthcare market.

In our next blog we will look at some medical-grade materials that have greater engineering properties than these commodity materials – they can go to higher temperatures, are tougher and more resistant to chemicals.

To find out more about the range of materials and type of medical components we manufacture at OGM, contact our specialist team.

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