Medical Device Manufacturing Starts with a Tape Converter
Does your new or improved medical device require adhesive tape or flexible materials to manufacture? If so, engineers should start with a tape converter to ensure a successful manufacturing process.
As medical devices become smaller, lighter, less invasive, and more complex, greater demands and regulations are imposed on the materials and components used in medical devices and wearable technologies. Engineers occasionally make the mistake of treating adhesive components as an afterthought in their design. Adhesive selection is an important decision not only for the design engineer and the manufacturing engineer, who are responsible for the efficient manufacturing of the device but also for the consumer and end-user of the medical device who is responsible for properly prepping, applying, and adhering to the device to their body for the prescribed amount of time.
Engineers collaborate with tape converters for several reasons: 1) expertise in selecting the most appropriate materials for their application based upon a wide range of end-user requirements and 2) to design a manufacturing process that is both scalable and cost-effective. Starting the design process with an experienced converter will help ensure success for the device manufacturer and throughout each step of the manufacturing process.
The Role of the Converter
The design and manufacturing of medical devices and wearable appliances involve innovation and creativity in converting flexible materials and adhesives. By working with an experienced converter in the early stages of design, engineers can create applications that are specifically designed and constructed to meet strict medical requirements. Working together with a reputable leading-edge converter who is abreast of the latest adhesive technologies and materials and employs the latest in converting technology. This allows the engineering team to manufacture a device that is best suited for commercialization while meeting the end-user application and requirements.
Finding the Right Adhesive & Flexible Material
With so many adhesive tapes and flexible material options, finding the right material can be challenging. Some materials may appear to be a good choice on the surface, but when factored more closely into the end-use application, and how the product can be manufactured, they may not be the optimal choice. A converter has the industry expertise and supplier connections to find the best material for the applications. Whether the adhesive tape is used for adhering wearable devices to the skin, or for bonding internal “tie-layers” within the medical devices, the converter can recommend adhesives and materials according to the desired properties required for the application.
A range of materials can be used in the manufacture of medical devices. Each material has its own characteristics and challenges and must be carefully matched with the appropriate adhesive. Whether the skin adhesive is biocompatible, breathable, moisture resistant, and sterilizable are only some of the many characteristics and requirements that need to be considered.
Staying Abreast of New Materials
In the last two decades, new classes of adhesives have been developed to complement the basic acrylic and rubber adhesives that have been so prevalent in the industry in the past. Some of these new adhesive classes include new formulations of silicone gel adhesives, hydrocolloid adhesives, and hydrogel adhesives. Not only do these new adhesive classes improve user wear time, but they also provide a more pleasant experience for those who wear them.
Converters provide expertise as to the appropriate adhesive selection for a specific application, such as single- or double-coated tapes, the optimum release liner for the application, whether a film, fabric, or foam tape is best suited for the application, and what might be available in hydrocolloid or hydrogel adhesive formulations. These selections are based upon a plethora of important end-user details such as wear time, body positioning, location of the device, intended user population (i.e. geriatric patients vs. younger patients), material availability, Minimum Order Quantities, and price points.
Designing a Custom Manufacturing Process
Once the material has been selected, the engineer will help design the product for functionality, ease of use, and scalability. By slitting, scoring, or adding extended liners or pull tabs, converters can make the product quicker to assemble and easier for the finished product to be applied. The converter may offer small-run prototyping to ensure that the material and design of the product are effective.
Converting services include laminating, die-cutting, laser cutting, island placement, slitting, kiss-cutting, and printing in a cleanroom environment. Converters often choose from servo-driven rotary die-cutting, laser die-cutting, and flatbed die-cutting, to meet the complexity and specifications of sophisticated medical components. For example, servo-driven rotary die-cutting delivers high repeatability and tight tolerances ranging up to +/-0.005 in. at speeds up to 500 fpm. It is often the best choice for complex, multi-layer die-cutting and lamination.
Converters Ensure Product Success
To get your new or improved medical product to market quickly and successfully, utilize the services of a medical converter from the start of the manufacturing process. However, be sure to work with a reputable converter who has the industry knowledge, experience, and converting capabilities to get the job done.
Being ISO certified and a 3M Preferred Industrial & Medical Converter, MBK Tape Solutions is uniquely qualified to help you choose the right adhesives and materials, provide innovative solutions, design scalable manufacturing processes, and navigate your way to market with confidence. Learn more at the MBK website, email or call 818-998-1477 and speak with a sales engineer, today.