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4 Advantages of Silicone Use in Medical Manufacturing

Medical innovations have come a long way from what they used to be. From catheters to stents to pacemakers, we are in an age where technology has caught up with the healing arts and it is wonderful to see.

The search for the best materials to make the safest medical tools can be difficult. When dealing with the manufacture of medical equipment, a little compromise can have ghastly consequences. Materials to be used must be stable in order to withstand the conditions inside the body, and over the years, silicone has become the traditional material of choice for manufacturing various vital medical equipment. It has proven its worth by achieving reliable high performance across a variety of conditions.

Silicone is a highly versatile synthetic polymer and its unique molecular structure gives it a high-heat resistance and various other useful properties. Here are four advantages silicone brings to the medical industry.

1. Compatible with and non-toxic to the human body

Biocompatibility is one of the many factors to consider when selecting materials for medical tools. The majority of medical equipment (e.g., tools used in surgery) is bound to interact with body fluids and other sensitive structures in the body during use. Therefore, they must be of low toxicity so as not to elicit any immunological response from the patient. Due to its chemical inertness, silicone has excellent biocompatibility and has been found useful in the manufacture of medical/ surgical implants, medical-grade gaskets, seals and o-rings, and various other forms of medical tools and supplies.

2. Durability and flexible

The Si-O-Si bonds that makeup silicone’s chemical backbone is extremely strong and for this reason, silicone is also much valued in medical manufacturing for its durability. Silicone is also very conformable due to its flexible structure, making it an excellent choice for both medical implants, as it can easily adapt to the delicate nature of internal organs without causing harm, and technologies worn outside the body like prosthetics.

3. Can withstand varying temperature and pressure

O-rings are a vital but delicate part of various medical equipment and to be properly manufactured, there is a need to understand the conditions o-ring-supported instruments need to withstand. For an o-ring to function efficiently, it needs to be able to withstand varying pressure and temperature demands. For this reason, silicone is considered the best material for the manufacture of o-rings as it has exceptional chemical resistance and high-heat tolerance, which make it perfectly suited for the harsh medical environment which includes extreme temperature, irradiation, and sterilization.

4. Highly malleable

Silicon is pliable and soft, and it can be formed into products of varying sizes and shapes as needed. Usually, manufacturers rely on three major types of molding when working with silicone: injection molding, transfer molding, and compression molding. Medical-grade silicone is a common choice for medical manufacturers as it doesn’t require high temperatures or pressures for injection molding or extruding hence, the cycle time per part will be short, making the end product inexpensive to make. When high-volume production isn’t necessary, silicone can be compression molded, further adding to its manufacturing versatility.

Applications of silicone in the health industry

Silicone is a highly versatile synthetic polymer that is very vital to various segments of our economy. It has a variety of applications from cooking utensils, aerospace, electronics, construction, and nautical to the creation of goods for insulation, sealants, and adhesives. The medical industry alone relies heavily on using it to create life-saving medical tools and instruments, including:

  1. Drug delivery implants
  2. Cardiac pacemakers
  3. Stents
  4. Catheters
  5. Orthopedic and prosthetics
  6. Ear and eye devices
  7. Valves

The future of silicone in medicine

Silicone is a high-performance material for medical device manufacturing and is widely used across many industries. It meets all the requirements from biocompatibility to stability and comfort and will continue to be a favorite in medical manufacturing for years to come.