There are lots of industries that can take advantage of antimicrobial resins—a few examples are clean rooms for sensitive electronics testing and assembly, water-treatment systems, food packaging, plumbing and HVAC, sterile packaging, conveyors, public transportation, medical/diagnostic equipment, dental implants, personal care products—even office equipment.
You may want to consider antimicrobial resins for your injection-molded product if surface bacterial growth is a problem and inhibits performance. Aesthetics matter, too—bacterial discoloration or bioslime can be huge turn-offs, depending on the use of the product. Chances are if the production environment has moisture, heat, and organic material, bacteria will be lurking there too, which could be problematic for operations.
The good news is that bacteria can be eliminated from these surfaces if they are manufactured from antimicrobial resins. These are different from the antimicrobial coatings that are sprayed onto products such as hip implants—this is popular in the medical field but the coatings are subject to erosion by joint action and abrade over time.
New advanced polymers are being made with an antimicrobial agent embedded in the resin itself, so the exposed surface is always a deadly place for bacteria. The antimicrobial compound is added during the manufacture of the resin and does not alter the physical or thermal properties of the resin—which still remains highly suitable for injection molding.
There is quite a variety of antimicrobial agents to choose from, depending on product use and the polymer family selected. Ionic silver is one of the most popular and is highly effective as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent in medical and dental applications. Silver is known to kill over 99.99% of bacteria within 24 hours of contact and remains effective over the lifetime of the product—the silver ions short-circuit the bacteria’s ability to reproduce and they die quickly; better yet, silver does not harm human tissue. Antimicrobial resins have been developed than can kill the most deadly infections, including MRSA, an especially resistant and potentially deadly bacterial infection often found in hospitals.
Antimicrobial resins can be formulated for all standard injection-molding materials, including standard polymers, engineered polymers, and thermoset materials. Part of the challenge in engineering antimicrobial resins is finding the right “carrier” for the antimicrobial agent that integrates homogenously into the resin without altering its physical or thermal properties; chemical concentrations must also be carefully calculated to provide a steady release of ions at a pre-determined rate.
If you are interested in learning more about antimicrobial resins, contact Kaysun and we’ll help answer your questions, connect you with qualified suppliers, and of course work closely with you on your project if you take it to development.
Snap-fit designs can be an effective way to replace fasteners/hardware in injection-molded parts or products. There is growing interest by manufacturers in snap-fit because it can save time and money. Snap-fit connections are just as strong as fastened connections and can replace nuts, screws, washers, etc. No other adhesives, solvents, or fastening processes are needed. Snap-fit is designed right into the molding process, eliminating assembly steps and speeding up assembly and throughput. It also reduces material needs, saves on material costs, and makes the product lighter weight. An added benefit is environmental—because snap-fitted products are easy to take apart it’s easier to separate and recycle different materials.
For most applications, snap-fit connections are the simplest and most cost-effective way to assemble two parts—making them ideal for high-volume production because it is a quick and easy step to complete. This reduces the risk of improper assembly, which occurs more frequently during a step that requires more components (fasteners) and tools.
Which snap-fit is best for your product depends on the intended use and the material/design strength that is required to keep the snap-fit secure. Snap-fits can be engineered to be a permanent connection or allow frequent assembly and disassembly (like battery compartment covers in electronic products). Gas-tight and fluid-tight snap-fit connections can even be made when snap-fits are engineered to work with seals and O-rings.
Even though snap-fits are relatively simple in design and how they operate, incorporating them into product design does add complexity and cost to the molding process. This is because engineers have to consider the functional requirements of the connection and the product, assembly requirements, mechanical properties of the thermoplastic (strength, flexibility, recovery), and changes to the design of the mold (including part ejection). The design must ensure that the snap-fit has the proper “holding power” to keep the connection secure without bending too much, or breaking. These calculations become more complex, too, if the snap-fit application requires hundreds of openings and closings. Since most snap-fits require an undercut, a mold with side action is often needed.
Depending on the design and intended use of the product, snap-fit connections can increase the cost of molding and tooling. However, once the snap-fits are designed and production is underway, the extra cost of the molding process is usually quickly recovered by lower assembly costs, faster throughput, and less rework.
One of our favorite conferences is BIOMEDevice—a wonderful opportunity to learn the latest in medical device development and meet a diverse group of industry professionals throughout the medical device supply chain, including designers, engineers, and regulatory and marketing/business development executives.
Conference details can be found at http://www.canontradeshows.com/expo/bioboston12/.
Admission is free for qualified registrants (otherwise it is $45 for the two-day event). The conference is one of the best opportunities in 2012 to talk one-on-one with some of the top medical device manufacturers and suppliers/vendors in the country, getting key insights and advice from leading experts in every part of the supply chain
Design and Development of a Medical Device: From Concept to Production
Integrating Risk Management with Product Design
IP Strategy under Patent Reform for Medical Device Design and Development
Speed to Market for Medical Devices
Human Factors in Medical Device Design
Meeting the Demands of the “Next Generation” Patient: User-Centric Design and Development
From R&D to Innovative Medical Device: The Role of Product Development Policy
Mobile Medical Devices: A Risk-Based Approach
Design and Development of a Medical Device: Manufacture, Compliance, Innovation
Developing Medical Devices for Manufacturability
Polymeric Medical Device Design: Materials Selection and Characterization
The Roadmap for Materials: Upgraded Functionality and Flexibility
Supply Chain Collaboration to Better Improve Cost Efficiencies
Supplier Controls: Partnerships in Design through Transfer into Manufacturing
Ensuring Proper Use of Low-Cost Bench Testing to Optimize Medical Device Field Results
Software Verification and Validation: Implementing Critical Updates to IEC 60601
Quite the line-up!
If you already manufacture a medical device and want to know how to make it better and lower cost, or you are looking for a medical device manufacturer or key supply-chain partners who can help you with the entire process, from concept to production, this is the place to be. Kaysun Corporation will be there—be sure to stop by Booth 1014 and say hello. Hope to see you in Boston.