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Plastics In Medical & Healthcare Sector Emerging Trends & Applications


Bioplastics Used in the Medical Field


The biodegradability of bioplastics combined with the sustainability of their resources, make them a great candidate in the medical field.


Whether for artificial eyes or modern implants, several materials have been used in the medical field. But, a material that benignly disappears in the body would be a panacea. With the emergence of biodegradable and bio-absorbable polymers, temporary prostheses, tissue engineering, and drug delivery vehicles began to rise.


Bioplastics, particularly PLA, are biodegradable materials with organic base which brings about a sustainable resource. Another important aspect of bioplastics is their biocompatibility which makes them usable in biomedical applications. Also, they are bio-absorbable which makes them more ideal in tissue engineering. PLA is made from lactic acid which is produced by bacterial fermentation of sugars. PLA is widely used in tissue engineering, due to its physical and chemical properties, to construct the scaffold. Although PLA presents a decent level of satisfaction in tissue engineering applications, its properties need to be enhanced to meet ideal requirements of tissue engineering.


Fillers and Coatings offer slow-release Antiseptic for Medical Devices


Many medical devices are subject to colonisation by bacteria. In some instances, the body’s immune system can effectively eradicate these microbes, with few or no symptoms for the individual.


Conventional means of preventing and treating device-related infections frequently involve the use of topical or systemic antibiotics. However, antibiotics are under acute threat by the evolution of resistance among pathogenic bacteria, and there are ever more urgent calls to reduce antibiotic use in order to preserve the dwindling supplies of effective drugs for life-or-death situations.


Micro Injection Moulding For Silicone Parts


The continuous growth of minimally invasive surgical procedures, the increasing demand of high precision medical devices and the latest advanced manufacturing technological developments are leading towards a new trend of small and precise silicone components manufactured under new micro-techniques that conventional injection moulding processes are unable to achieve.


Micro Injection Moulded Parts


The new micro injection technologies allow the precise manufacturing of silicone parts weighing only a few milligrams (a range of 10 milligrams is generally used to define the border), components with strict tolerances (for example for high precision valves) and for conventional injected parts having some particular or critical micro structured zones (for example thin section membranes)


Silicone micromoulded components are increasingly used in minimally invasive surgical devices, in small and precise fluid control activities (valves, septums and seals), in devices fitted with microsensors, in precision overmoulding operations and in many components in general designed with challenging geometries or with high precision requirements.


Low-Density Polymer Lightens the Load of Prosthetic Hand


The polymer’s light weight and self-lubrication play important role in the hand’s design.


Researchers at the University of Southampton, UK, have chosen low-density thermopolymer to create various parts of the next generation of its innovative Southampton-Remedi prosthetic hand, which has been developed over several decades. Continued development and improvements on the hand have been the subject of several PhD programs over the years. The newest version is a low-mass, sensor-rich artificial hand designed to be a highly functional, adaptive prosthesis.


Electroactive Material for Wound Healing


This technology uses electrical activity to facilitate the woundhealing process while protecting the wound. The bandage is made of an electroactive material that is stimulated by the heat of the body and the pressure of cell growth, thus no external power source is required.


An electroactive device is applied to an external wound site. This method utilizes generated low-level electrical stimulation to promote the wound-healing process while simultaneously protecting it from infection. The material is fabricated from polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF, a thermoplastic fluoropolymer that is highly piezoelectric when poled. The fabrication method of the electroactive material is based on a previous Langley invention of an apparatus that is used to electrospin highly aligned polymer fiber material. A description of the fabrication method can be found in the technology opportunity announcement titled, “NASA Langley’s Highly Electrospun Fibers and Mats,” which is available on NASA Langley’s Technology Gateway.

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