As the worldwide population ages, healthcare is shifting from clinics and hospitals to in-home care and smaller, non-traditional facilities. As a result, the demand for portable medical devices that monitor diagnostic and therapeutic data and aid in treatment of certain conditions continues to increase.
Geographically, the spike in mobile medical devices is predicted to occur fastest in the Asia Pacific region; however, North America follows close behind as consumers quickly adapt to technological advancements that fuel desire for equipment that can be used in nearly any location.
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 portability and ease of use by inexperienced users or traveling healthcare workers. Portable medical devices also need to be durable and perform reliably. That’s where overmolding makes 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.
In 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. Overmolding may also focus on promoting user-friendliness by improving overall feel and grip, deadening vibration and protecting the device from drop impact, among other things.
Also, partnering with an experienced injection molder for overmolding projects has business and brand advantages. The overmolding process combines many parts into one piece, which simplifies a product’s bill of materials; and built-in pneumatic or hydraulic gaskets can be created within the assembly, saving production time and costs. Through a molder, overmolding plastics are available in a range of colors, materials and textures that can help in identifying devices and components, or keeping equipment organized in storerooms or ambulances. Colored plastics also enhance overall aesthetics and brand identification.
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
The World Health Organization estimates the worldwide number of people 65 years or older will top 2 billion by 2050 – a sharp increase from 605 million in 2000. The home healthcare market already reflects this demographic shift in two significant ways: a predicted $300 billion market share by 2020, and increased patient participation in their own care as opposed to reliance on clinic and hospital services.
Empowering individuals and healthcare workers to administer in-home services requires medical devices that reliably perform, regardless of location or user familiarity. Injection molded, overmolded plastic medical components and devices solve today’s challenges with an eye to future healthcare industry needs.
For more on how injection molders help solve some of the toughest engineering challenges, download our latest whitepaper, Designing Plastic Parts and Products for Critical-Use Medical Applications.