Every day around the world in hospitals and clinics, research laboratories and universities, numerous plastic products are used for medical parts, appliances and support equipment. The variety of applications is almost limitless.
This is due to the fact that plastic injection molding is perfect for making high volumes of identical, close-tolerance medical products. These include both solid parts as well as hollow and semi-hollow enclosures and cases. And not only is injection molding versatile, but also many plastic resins have demonstrated their utility and quality in a variety of medical products and devices that have already received regulatory approval. That means it will be relatively easier to get certification for new medical products using the same raw material.
To learn more about why it might be right for you, here are the top 4 reasons to consider plastic injection molding for making medical products.
1. Process Control and Reliability
The history of plastic injection molding goes back almost 100 years. That means the process of injection molding has been continuously refined and improved to the point where it’s very stable and reliable. There is advanced modeling software available that takes much of the guesswork out of tool design. And, with modern digital controls on plastic injection molding machines, the process parameters can be quickly tuned for optimal performance and to reduce production lead time of injection molded medical products to a minimum.
2. Injection Molding can Produce Medical Products in High Volumes
All injection molding projects, including medical ones, first start with a molding tool and die. To make a complex shape might require making an equally complex mold tool, so there is an initial product development investment that needs to be considered before a single medical part is made.
But once the tool is approved it’s possible to make hundreds of thousands of duplicate medical parts in plastic very quickly and economically. In fact, larger production volumes tend to recoup the tooling costs over time because of lower price-per-part. That’s why injection molding is perfect for rather generic items like containers, tubes or disposable single-use medical products like syringes.
3. Injection Molding is Ideal for Enclosures
Injection molding is especially useful when making cases and enclosures. It’s technically possible to use some other process to make a box, such as CNC machining or vacuum casting, and sometimes there are good reasons for doing so. But those other production methods would be much slower, consume more raw material, and would be prohibitively expensive. That why this would make sense only for low-volume or custom jobs when you don’t want to invest in a tool.
Enclosures come in all shapes and sizes. Some are just simple parts like tool holding trays, pill dispensers or housings for sensors. Large plastic housings are especially beneficial for sophisticated medical equipment. Not only is plastic lightweight, durable and less expensive than an alternative material, it also will not interfere with electromagnetic energy such as would be used in CAT scans, MRIs and x-rays. And some plastics resins are also unaffected by radiation.
4. Injection Molding Provides Versatility for Medical Products
There are thousands of plastic resins to choose from for manufacturing that are easily available on the commercial market. And luckily many of these resins are suitable for medical applications. These resins have mechanical and chemical properties which are well understood so it’s easy to choose the one that’s most appropriate for its end use and environment. There are resins that are heat stable, chemically resistant, strong, lightweight, biodegradable, and biocompatible. Plastic is increasingly popular when used for prosthetics, replacement joints or other medical products that will be in permanent contact with the body.
Want to learn more about injection molding for medical devices?
Star Rapid is fully certified to the quality management system of ISO 13485 for medical devices. When you’re ready to start your next medical product, contact us for a free design for manufacturing review and quotation. We can ensure you use the right material and the right process that best suits your medical application.