The RX Factor – Medical Plastics And Adhesion




Although polymers have suffered through some tough media disparagement as of late (biodegradability issues) it is highly unlikely that these polymers are replaceable for medical device manufacturing. These specialized materials are indispensible for providing low cost but effective vehicles for delivering everything from successful operating techniques to therapeutic medicines.

From a scientific standpoint, polymers are widely used for in-vivo and in-vitro medical applications. A number of these materials have physical properties conducive to the manufacturing of highly complex medical appliances because they are inexpensive and easily molded into complex shapes. However, fabrication procedures which require high strength interfacial bonding can be difficult to achieve.

Atmospheric plasma technology is a very effective technique for overcoming these limitations by modifying the surfaces of medical polymers. The industry has realized that by altering the first few atomic layers of the polymer with atmospheric plasmas, the surfaces of most high performance medical polymers can become highly hydrophilic so that adhesives (and inks) can spread to the surface and bond to problematic materials such as polyolefins, fluoropolymers and silicones. Atmospheric plasma treatment doesn’t affect the bulk properties of these polymer materials and components are visually indistinguishable from those components which are untreated.

What’s being treated by atmospheric plasma? Needles and hubs, test tubes, catheter components, blood filtration membranes, intravenous drip bag components, and many more. The list is growing daily as new devices are innovated. And the integration of devices with an ever-increasing array of dissimilar polymer materials is creating new bonding challenges, and these demands for higher performance bonding techniques are currently being met by atmospheric plasmas. We’re not sure what the limits of atmospheric plasmas may be, but we certainly see the vast opportunities.

March 26, 2012