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What's the Advantages of Using TPE in Healthcare Devices

04 Jan 2018 - medical,tpe
timgThere are many reasons why TPEs are an excellent choice for medical devices. Designers and manufacturers often use TPEs to capitalise on the non-slip grip and/or a ‘soft-touch’ feel they provide. This technique is particularly useful for surgical tools and electrocautery cutters, improving the instruments’ grip and comfort level for extended periods of use.

TPEs can also be used as a replacement for other materials. For example, respiratory care masks, which are typically made from silicone rubber, can be made from TPEs moulded with an engineered polymer substrate, providing a high degree of clarity and low tack for contact with the patient’s skin. In addition, by utilising a two shot technique, a part can be produced in one step, which reduces assembly costs and cycle time.

Another great example is that of extruded TPEs, which are used as replacements in tubing applications to replace PVC, thereby eliminating the use of phthalate plasticizers. If allergic reactions are of concern, TPEs are an excellent latex-free and PVC-free material option.

In fact, the appearance and functionality of a device is more rugged and durable simply by overmoulding TPEs around edges and corners. This simple enhancement improves the actual and perceived life of the device itself, and ultimately, the marketability of the product.

Of course, designers and manufacturers must also take great care to ensure the safety of the medical devices they produce. Material selection is crucial; not only are physical properties important, such as the hardness of the material for good strength and flexibility (30 to 80 Shore A is recommended for most medical devices), it makes sense to select compounds that are pretested for biocompatibility. 

In response to this need, some compounders, like GainShine, produce TPE compounds that have been pretested for cytotoxicity, irritation, and acute systemic toxicity in compliance with ISO 10993-5/10/11. Compounds such as biocompatible styrenic-based TPEs offer advantages such as gamma and EtO sterilisabili. “By selecting TPEs that are biocompatible, healthcare device designers and engineers have already taken a step toward a smoother regulatory approval process,” says Engineer Liu, R&D Dept., GainShine TPE.


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