Designing Medical Adhesives for Healthcare & Retail Applications

Drawing of a male and female with Stick-to-Skin Tape Products for Healthcare & Retail Applications

Whether for healthcare, personal care, beauty/fashion aids, or athletic protection, medical-grade adhesives and tapes serve many functions throughout our lifetime. From neonatal to geriatric care, we depend on adhesive tapes to protect, heal, and enhance the skin. With new advances in science and technology, medical tapes and flexible materials are being used to adhere devices to our bodies for internal and external monitoring, bioanalytical diagnostics, dispensing chemistry, electrical conductivity, and thermal management.

As a preferred tape converter, MBK Tape Solutions specializes in converting medical adhesive tapes and raw flexible materials into skin-friendly wearable products for healthcare, personal care, and food and pharma markets. We source top quality materials from 3M, Avery Dennison Medical, Polymer Science, and other qualified suppliers based in the USA to tailor-fit the materials to the application, based on customer requirements. The design process can be challenging and finding the right adhesive for your application can be sticky. Our decades of experience and knowledge enable us to help construct and manufacture the perfect product that best meets your specific application requirements while considering performance, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

Factors to Consider When Designing a Stick-to-Skin Wearable Product

Whether the medical adhesives and tapes come in direct or indirect contact with the body, they need to have the proper biocompatibility testing and usage studies. Knowing that the skin is constantly in flux and that everyone’s skin chemistry can vary, drastically, illuminates the complexity of choosing the right materials when designing stick-to-skin components and products. Finding an adhesive that securely attaches for the prescribed time without inflammation or allergic reaction and then removes without irritation or damage to the skin is only the first challenge.

Adhesives are tested against a common combination of materials and processes, to assure that the tape not only sticks to the skin but also to the device assembly. The migration of backing materials and components may alter adhesion performance, so a tie layer may be used in the device structure. Exposure to gamma and E-beam radiation, commonly used in the sterilization of medical devices, can also change the performance of adhesives. It is best to know upfront the adhesive and liner release values following sterilization rather than later in the development cycle.

Body Location

Adhesive location on the body is another factor to consider when designing a product for medical or personal care applications. Knowing the skin thickness and sensitivity in different areas of the body helps to identify the right adhesive and backing combination for an application. For example, a face mask requires a conformable gentle acrylate or silicone adhesive with thin polyolefin backing, compared to an impact sensor on a leg or arm requires a stronger adhesive with a polyester or polyurethane nonwoven or polyurethane film to accommodate movement and sweat.

Skin Type, Age & Health

Other factors to consider during the design stage are the age, skin type, and health of the person wearing the device. A baby has thin sensitive skin, while an elderly person tends to have very fragile and easily damaged skin. Keeping these factors in mind when designing new devices can help ease a caregiver or end-users apprehension.

Breathability & Wear Duration

Breathability and wear duration are other key factors to consider when designing a stick-to-skin product. Using breathable tape minimizes inflammation. Breathability is affected by the adhesive’s chemistry and thickness, the type of backing material, as well as the size and construction of your device. Depending on the prescribed wear duration, from minutes up to two weeks, newer adhesive formulations offer higher securement for longer wear time.

External Conditions

Whether during the time of attachment, wear duration, or removal of the adhesive, outside stresses have an impact on the level of adhesion. Conditions that influence adhesion also include exposure to moisture such as sweat or water, contaminated surfaces such as oils and lotions, and the friction caused by the rubbing of body parts or clothing. The adhesive-based product should also be conformable enough to allow appropriate stretch and movement.

MBK Brings Your Ideas to Life

Tape converters are well versed in the different adhesive properties and how they work in combination with other materials in various environments to provide gentle, secure adhesion to the skin for the wear duration and remove cleanly without trauma. Working with a knowledgeable team who can help find the right adhesive tape for your wearable device and construct a product that will help save time, reduce costs, mitigate risks and frustrations. At MBK, we can help convert your innovative stick-to-skin ideas to reality.

Discuss your project with the sales engineers at MBK Tape Solutions today by calling 818-998-1477 or emailing To learn more about MBK, view our online medical catalog and our converting capabilities.

Click the infographic below to learn about the many stick-to-skin tape applications

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