Medical injection molding (MIM) is a versatile process that forces medical-grade plastics into a mold to create the desired shape and function. Medical plastic injection molding is used in the creation of prototypes, as well as market-ready medical devices. The FDA requires that only medical-grade plastics can be used in medical implants and devices, but there are several other key restrictions:
- Parts and devices must be durable
- Parts and devices must be reliable
- Parts and devices must offer increased versatility
- Prototypes, parts, and devices must meet all FDA regulations.
To the final point, the extent of FDA regulations is well beyond the scope of this post, but you may click here to browse the hundreds of public guidance documents for medical devices—including medical plastics—made available by the FDA.
End applications for medical injection molding include:
- Dental instruments
- Surgical instruments and blades
- Medical equipment components
- Medical device housing
Why Injection Molding Medical Plastics Might Be the Best Option
Injection molding has many benefits to both manufacturer and patient, including:
- Cost-effectiveness. Once the molds are set, medical injection molding becomes a very economical process.
- Improved functionality. May be used with plastics of a wide variety of physical properties to ensure all specific functions are unhindered.
- Sterilization compatibility. Medical plastics are available with resistances to common medical cleaning solutions, antimicrobial properties, compatibility with autoclaving, and more.
- Versatility. Capabilities for complex geometries ensure accurate parts that improve patient comfort.
- Safety. MIM also offers improvements for artificial limbs and other attachments by reducing the risk of infection and increasing patient safety. According to this study from Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, available from the National Institutes of Health, patients with metal-to-metal knee prostheses were 20 times more likely to incur a post-operative infection than patients receiving a metal-to-plastic knee prosthesis.
All told, medical devices made from plastic injection molding contribute greatly to positive outcomes.
Material Properties of Injection Molded Medical Devices
MIM is a highly adaptable means of production for a wide variety of medical purposes. The intended properties of the device will greatly inform the material selection process. Common medical plastics include:
- Polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is transparent and tough, making it a candidate of choice for medical tubing. Its high heat resistance classifies it as a thermoplastic. It also has low moisture absorption and is stronger than acrylic.
- PEEK. This medical-grade plastic is highly resistant to chemicals, cracking, and fatigue and its high temperature tolerance means it can be sterilized via autoclave. The FDA has also approved PEEK for contact with food due to its chemically inert behavior.
- Ultem. Used for a variety of medical devices for its flame-retardant properties, high strength-to-weight ratio, and low toxicity. Ultem is strong enough to resist environmental stress and cracking and its dimensional stability, high impact strength, and stiffness make it an excellent choice for many medical applications.
Contact Us to Discuss the Benefits of Injection Molding
Valencia Plastics uses plastic injection molding in the fabrication of medical components for the many advantages it affords. We rely on MIM for the following reasons:
- It offers a versatile method for mass production
- It allows for the production of prototypes at nearly any scale
- Injection molding affords detailed features and complex geometries
- Injection molding easily create physical prototypes for newly designed equipment in order to facilitate necessary testing and monitoring
- Plastic injection molding allows for great detail within the cast
Valencia Plastics uses injection molding as a very cost-effective way to produce high-grade plastic devices. The use of extreme-pressure mold injection vastly reduces the amount of time required for production. This allows rapid turnaround at high volumes, as well as reduced labor costs compared to other production methods.
We offer start-to-finish manufacturing services, including:
- Assistance with new product design
- Engineer services using CAD software
- Complete in-house mold shop utilizing CAM software
- Affordable short production/prototype runs
- Full-scale production runs 24/7
- Product assembly & fulfillment with custom packaging
We offer competitive pricing and use only state-of-the-art equipment and methods. All of our parts are made in the USA and we are ISO 9001:2015-certified and compliant. If you have any questions or would like to work with our team on how to make your device a reality, please contact us.