According to global aging data compiled by the United Nations, by 2050 1 in 6 people in the world will be over the age of 65.1 That's a dramatic jump from current statistics that place the same segment of the population at 1 in 11.1
As a result — and in light of spikes in medical demand due to COVID-19 for all age groups — healthcare is rapidly shifting from clinics and hospitals to in-home care and smaller, non-traditional facilities.
Portable medical devices that monitor diagnostic and therapeutic data and aid in treatment of certain conditions are integral to this transition. Use of wearable technologies alone have increased by 26% globally2, and the U.S. medical device market has seen a 1.9% uptick in 2020 to $45.3 billion3.
The global need is evident, and the universal solution is found in injection-molded medical devices.
Plastic is lightweight and can conform to nearly any shape, which is beneficial to medical applications wherein portability and ease of use by inexperienced users or traveling healthcare workers is necessary. Portable medical devices also need to be durable and perform reliably. That’s where custom injection molders that are experienced in overmolding make key contributions.
Overmolding is a unique injection molding process that combines two or more molded plastic parts into one finished product to add or enhance certain characteristics.
For medical applications that may mean covering a rigid device “skeleton” with a soft, flexible outer shell to:
- Reduce abrasions, waterproof a substrate, or improve chemical resistance
- Promote user-friendliness by improving overall feel and grip
- Deaden vibration and protect the device from drop impact
In addition to these product outcomes, brand and business advantages can be realized by partnering with an experienced custom injection molder for overmolding projects, including:
- Time and cost savings through simplification of an injection-molded part's bill of materials, as well as the inclusion of certain processes (e.g., adding gaskets, etc.) that would otherwise have to be done separately. The overmolding process can be very complex. An experienced molder can speed time to market by reducing the number of design iterations needed to get production ready.
- Better operational and brand identity since custom injection molders are familiar with the wide range of available plastics for medical applications, and can generally get them in a wide range of colors, materials, and textures. Colored plastics help users find key portable medical device features, and aid in general equipment organization. In addition, colored overmolded plastics enhance brand aesthetics without introducing additional elements and processes (decal printing and placement, etc.).
How does overmolding affect medical device performance?
Overmolded components provide attributes that build performance capabilities in a wide range of medical applications, including:
- Handheld devices: soft grips, vibration control, and abrasion resistance
- Surgical instruments: nonslip grips, chemical resistance, and biocompatibility
- Instrument housings: impact resistance, noise and vibration control, and improved aesthetics
- Monitors: impact resistance, noise control, and abrasion resistance
- Tubing or Luer fittings: liquid or gas seals
- Electrical connectors: insulation and color identification
- Syringes: chemical resistance, nonslip grips, and built-in seals
Empowering individuals and healthcare workers to administer in-home services requires medical devices that reliably perform, regardless of location or user familiarity. Overmolded medical components and portable medical devices solve today’s challenges with an eye to future healthcare industry needs.
For more on how custom injection molders use overmolding to help solve some of the toughest medical application challenges, download our eBook, Overmolding for Medical Device Manufacturing.
1United Nations, World Population Aging 2019: Highlights, 2019
2Medical Product Outsourcing, Top 10 Trends in the Medical Device and Equipment Industry, September 18, 2019
3IBISWorld, Medical Device Manufacturing in the US Market Size 2005-2026, Undated