The Medical Industry And Silicone
Rubber Industries And The Medical Products That Save Lives
When you think about a rubber and silicone manufacturer, you usually won't think of life saving equipment. Images of car tubing and seals, industrial parts, and o-rings for consumer products might come to mind. However, the medical field is actually one of our largest consumer bases.
The medical field has a constant need for equipment made from silicone and we're one of their largest suppliers. The products we make can be single use items for a quick check up, or they can be as important as the casing on a life saving implant. Regardless of the intended use, we make a massive supply of those items every year.
Why Is Silicone Used In The Medical Field?
You might want to know why silicone is such a commonly used material in all areas of the medical field. There are several reasons as to why this is the case:
Silicone is considered to be a safe, non-toxic, bacteria immune material. It doesn't release any toxic compounds if it does degrade. That means that surgeons can use tools made from silicone confidently and without worrying about the material poisoning their patients if it's used on an open wound, inside the mouth, or as a transportation vessel for fluids and medicine.
It also stretches and has a high flexibility rating. While silicone isn't very abrasion resistant, it can withstand being yanked, bent, or kinked without malfunctioning. In the high stress environment of a hospital, this can mean the difference between a slight misjudged movement causing a catastrophe, or the same mistake being a simple inconvenience. The durability of the material is one of its most important traits in the medical field.
Silicone is very biocompatible. This ties in with it being non-toxic and safe for use within the body, but it goes a bit beyond that. The human body doesn't have a negative reaction to silicone being placed in the body or a wound. This makes it a useful material for implants and even jacket cables for micro cameras that are used to look inside of the internal organs of a patient. There's also a comfort factor involved. Silicone doesn't cause irritation when doctors use it to transport a camera or other device into specific bodily cavities.
How Is Silicone Used In The Medical Industry?
Well, you now know what key factors make silicone useful to medical practicioners. How is it most commonly used, though? It's used in a lot of their most commonly used tools:
The tubing that you see in hospitals and other medical centers is most often made from silicone. This includes IV tubes, feeding tubes, breathing tubes, the tubes connecting respiratory masks, and any other tube that you'd normally see in a medical setting. The three main reasons for this are silicone's non-toxic nature, inability to house bacteria, and the comfort that properly made silicone can afford patients that are already stressed. Another benefit is that it won't break easily if a patient yanks on it or kinks the tube.
Implanted devices are most often encapsulated in silicone in whole, or in part to protect them from bodily fluid and other factors. Sometimes, the implant is constructed completely from silicone. This can be the case for stints, cosmetic implants, or other such implants that don't utilize electronic components. The biocompatibility and safety of silicone are its main benefits with this application. Obviously, if something is going to be implanted within a patient's body, it can't release toxins or otherwise harm the individual.
Cable jackets are another family of products that are made from silicone. These are essentially silicone based covers for power cables and wires that are likely to be used inside of a patient, or around an open wound. Cable jackets made from silicone make it more comfortable and a lot easier to insert cameras into a patient's body for viewing and examination. They also won't cause irritation to the skin or organs. Cable jackets can also be found on power tools used for surgery to protect the cables from being exposed to fluid. Since silicone doesn't allow the growth of bacteris, these cable jackets can stay sanitary through the use of basic sterilization processes.
A lot of protective coverings for medical equipment are made from silicone. Needle protectors and other covers that prevent a sharp object from accidentally harming someone when not in use are all examples of this. The covers remain sterile when cared for properly, they don't break down easily, and they don't release toxic substances onto the instruments they protect.
How Do We Make These Important Parts?
At Rubber Industries, we have decades of experience serving the medical field with our silicone products. We've mastered the production of these life saving parts and we're relied on for our quality and speed by the biggest brands in the industry. Here's a little insight into our process.
We begin with a design of the product. We can create parts from designs that you send us, or we can make a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) in shop. Regardless of how far along you are in your project, we can help.
Then, we utilize our CNC shop to create the custom tooling that'll be used during the production run of your project. We have expert CNC machinists on staff at all times to program our machines, oversee the cutting process, and inspect the tooling. Each tool that we create is made from 4130 steel to ensure that it lasts throughout your entire production run.
From there, we create a functioning prototype of your desired product. This allows you to see exactly what the part will be like, how it'll work, and whether or not you need to make any changes to the design.
Finally, we utilize a number of molding methods to actually start producing your product. We only use modern equipment in our facility and all of our silicone parts are made in a dedicated shop to ensure that they're of medical grade quality.