When designing a medical device, there is a range of important factors to consider. The device’s function, intended use, desired audience, cost, and distribution are all crucial elements within the design process. Concepts such as size, color, and availability are also important during this stage. One important aspect which underpins the whole project is, of course, materials.
Choosing the materials to use is an essential aspect of any product design, but particularly when the result is destined for the medical environment. Regarding materials, it is crucial to consider elements such as cost and availability, as well as the properties and how they will react during the final design. It’s also worth considering what the materials are like to work with, and your production technique – methods such as RD Medical high speed rotary die cutting– can be affected by your choice of materials. We have compiled some of the critical considerations when picking materials for your medical device:
- Surface Properties
This initial consideration is essential, and the top priority is assessing how friction affects the device when it’s being used. This aspect can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the final device, so it needs to be checked early on in the process. The surface will also influence factors such as the ease of bonding to other materials, labeling, and printing.
- Physical Properties
If the material passes the surface check, the next element to explore is the physical properties. Features such as density, conductivity, and transparency will need to be analyzed, and a decision must be made based on your ultimate needs; a material with poor electrical conductivity is almost useless for an electrode-based device. Similarly, a tool designed for drug-administration could be severely hampered if the material is prone to the build-up of static electricity.
- Mechanical Properties
Another critical consideration is the mechanical properties of the material. Can it do the job it was designed for? You will need to examine the toughness and stiffness, the yield strength, and the ability to withstand various storage and loading facilities. This testing may include analyzing its resistance to heat, cold, humidity, compression, tension and so on.
- Chemical Properties
The chemical properties of a material can influence how well the device resists degradation. Elements such as lubrication, moisture, exposure to solvents and electromagnetic radiation are all likely in a medical setting, and it is vital that your chosen material is up to the challenge.
It may not seem a priority, but it is essential to consider cost early in the decision process. The market for materials can be highly competitive, and it can be a challenge to sort through the options and find the best choice for you. The cost of materials can have an impact on the rest of the process, such as limiting the final amount produced, calculating profit, and determining other elements of the device, such as a cheaper adhesive or a more complex sensor.
The information here provides a limited example of the considerations which need to be made when choosing materials; however, it does highlight the importance of this decision. Choosing the right materials can have a significant impact on the success of your future project, and it is not a decision to be taken lightly.