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A Guide to Injection Molded Plastic Materials for Medical Manufacturing

There are a multitude of different injection molded plastics that we use to manufacture today’s highly complex medical products. Some are extremely common materials used in many modern manufacturing applications, such as HDPE, LDPE, and ABS plastic. Others are a bit more specialized for medical products and various other higher-performance applications, such as TPE plastic which offers unique properties in elasticity. Founded in 1972, SRC Medical draws upon more than half a century of injection molding experience to select the ideal thermoplastic material for every unique product – optimized for performance, reliability, as well as cost and sustainability.

Injection Molded Medical Plastics: Material Advantages and Product Applications

 

HDPE: High Density Polyethylene

HDPE is a relatively durable thermoplastic material that offers good impact resistance. Injection molded HDPE products can generally withstand repeated use and handling, which is important for medical products subjected to frequent use or stress on the job. Critical for modern medical applications, HDPE is considered biocompatible, which makes it suitable for many medical devices that we produce which will come into contact with the human body in patient procedures. As an added benefit, HDPE is highly resistant to many chemicals, making it an excellent choice for medical products that may be exposed to various chemicals such as solvents and disinfectants during use.

LDPE: Low Density Polyethylene

LDPE is known for its flexibility and softness, making it suitable for medical devices that need to be pliable or conform to the body’s shape. This can be particularly useful for products like catheters or tubing. LDPE has low moisture absorption, helping to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, which is crucial for products used in medical applications. Like HDPE, LDPE is generally considered biocompatible and has a low risk of causing adverse reactions when in contact with human tissues or bodily fluids. Also like HDPE, LDPE is resistant to many chemicals, used in the modern medical space.

TPE: Thermoplastic Elastomers

Thermoplastic elastomers can be uniquely engineered to achieve a wide range of hardness levels, ranging from very soft and flexible to relatively firm. This material flexibility makes them ideal for a wide range of medical products where comfort, flexibility, or cushioning are important. Common product examples include medical tubing and soft grips for medical tools. Like HDPE and LDPE, medical-grade TPE is highly chemically resistant and engineered for maximum biocompatibility. TPE thermoplastics also offer exceptional barrier properties – an ideal material for manufacturing medical devices which require impermeability to moisture and air.

PP: Polypropylene

PP thermoplastics provide medical manufacturers with a high degree of flexibility for many different products. The material offers good impact resistance and exceptional flexural strength. It is also chemically resistant and can reliably withstand various sterilization methods, including autoclaving, gamma irradiation, and ethylene oxide (EtO) sterilization – crucial for maintaining the sterility of medical devices. Polypropylene is also an extremely “slippery” plastic, making it ideal for low-friction applications like caps, closures, and sliding components.

ABS: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

ABS is one of the most common materials in the injection molding industry because it provides good durability and wear resistance, ensuring the longevity of medical devices and components that need to withstand repeated use and handling. Medical-grade forms of ABS are engineered for biocompatibility and exceptional chemical resistance. It is one of the more convenient and cost-effective materials for manufacturing many types of medical products due to the material’s low melting point and high moldability.

Quality American Injection Molding Services Since 1972

One of the greater Massachusetts region’s leading medical manufacturers, SRC Medical is an ISO 13485:2016 certified company specializing in custom injection molded products. Our company is backed by more than half a century of innovation and experience in the manufacturing of quality medical devices and components.