Trinseo: TPEs in medical devices

TPE from Trinseo are helping to shape a new generation of medical devices. The company said it supplies a versatile portfolio of medical grade materials ranging from semi-rigid and transparent to highly elastomeric and opaque making the material ideal for a variety of soft-touch polymer applications. Trinseo also offers bioplastic versions with biomass content or biodegradable to provide alternatives to traditional materials.

The use of TPE provides aesthetically pleasing, soft-touch surfaces to help devices look more attractive and less institutional. (Source: Trinseo)

The company has published a list with trends that are – according to Trinseo – increasing the demand for TPE materials for medical devices, as the marketplace focuses on creating applications that are even more patient- and provider-friendly:

1. Home healthcare
As healthcare services move from traditional settings such as hospitals, clinics, and physician’s offices to non-clinical and personal living spaces, people want medical equipment that blends in with their surroundings. The use of TPE provides aesthetically pleasing, soft-touch surfaces to help devices look more attractive and less institutional. They also offer benefits such as reduced vibration and noise as well as soft-touch, easy-to-grip knobs and handles that can improve functionality for professionals familiar with medical equipment and those who are not.

2. Self-administered care
Patients want convenient, effective treatment that can be administered “on the go.” This has created a need for drug delivery devices such as auto injectors, asthma inhalers, and portable respiratory equipment. Along with the actual device, is a need for easy administration and error-free performance. Part design and/or textured surfaces can help guide proper handling. Coloured inserts or moulded-in labels can provide instruction and non-slip grips can help ensure accurate administration.

3. Aging and special needs populations
According to the World Health Organisation and global governments, the number of people 60 years or older will jump significantly between 2015 and 2050. Medical device OEMs need to adjust to this growth by developing devices that take a variety of factors into consideration. Not only is age of the patient important, but physical dexterity, flexibility, and coordination are all key as manufacturers work to create ergonomic designs for patients of all types and abilities.

4. Regulatory Guidelines
There aren’t any requirements yet, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may have contributed to the interest in overmoulding. The FDA recently issued a guidance document called “Applying Human Factors and Usability Engineering to Medical Devices” (revised February 2016). The intent of this report is to encourage manufacturers to make sure their devices can be used safely, without causing harm or lessening the effectiveness of treatment.