Plastics – Application and Evaluation
Application of the right plastics and production methods can cut costs and shorten development time.
The plastics industry has gone through major changes since Dr. Leo Baekland introduced “Bakelite” in 1909. As recently as a decade ago there were perhaps 35,000 plastic formulations. Now it seems that there are specific compounds for every purpose. Today’s design challenge is to build increasingly complex and robust products faster and at a lower overall production cost. With thousands of possible choices, product developers need a solid knowledge of plastics, and be aware of the best candidates for specific projects and applications.
0% of the resins used in the medical market are commodity resins:
1. PVC for tubing and bags,
2. Polyethylene (medical packaging)
3. Polystyrene (lab ware)
4. Polypropylene for syringes.
The remaining 20%, the so called engineering resins, require specialized knowledge of the materials and processing requirements to make the best use of their particular characteristics.
We work with and specify many engineering and performance plastics when prototyping molded parts.
In the last 35 years we have developed hundreds of molded parts. Before designing a part, we need to make a decision on such factors as how it will be produced, which performance characteristics are most important, the cost and availability of the material, required aesthetic values, and if it will be exposed to sterilization.
Metal replacement plastics
Plastics have often been used as replacements for more traditional materials like metal and glass. Performance plastics like Ryton™, Ultem™ and Valox™ weigh less than metal, and some replacement parts can be less expensive to produce.
We once designed eight plastic parts for Nellcor Puritan Bennett that replaced the same number of machined metal parts in their conserver valve. We shaved 60% from the total weight and reduced production costs by more than 30%. The prototype tools were machined in-house, where we injection molded and tested the first articles.
Rubber replacement plastics
The Omnica team can offer alternate choices that can save customers time and money. Thermoplastic elastomers like Kraton™, Pebax™, and Santoprene™ are often good rubber replacements. They can be used for over-molding buttons, keypads, and handles to get just the right “feel”. Engineering resins like polycarbonate (Lexan™) and acrylic are aesthetic plastics that take a high polish. They can be used in many applications that in the past would have required glass. Substituting plastic (which can be hardcoated for scratch resistance) for a glass lens can cut costs significantly, reduce weight, and diminish the risk of breakage.
Extensive experience with small bio-compatible parts design.
We develop ophthalmic implantables (left), high-volume consumables (center), and handheld devices (right), too.
Omnica can offer our customer choices based on the latest technologies
Plastics can offer lighter weight, lower cost, and consistent availability. They can be more easily manufactured and produced than traditional materials, and part production costs can be substantially lower. If you have an existing product or one that is ready to be redesigned, let’s talk about it. The Omnica team may be able to offer you some options.