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Though most commonly known for use in retail operations, radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology has also made a big breakthrough into pharmaceutical circles—and more recently, with medical devices. In 2016, there were more than 8 billion ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags sold worldwide, with only 60% going towards retail. RFID tags typically operate like barcodes, sending out radio frequencies to special reader devices, where data from the tag is captured and stored in a database. With medical RFID applications, however, the uses go way beyond the barcode, and can help medical device manufacturers improve processes and deliver a better final product.
Innovations in technology have significantly impacted the healthcare industry in recent years, and that trend isn’t slowing anytime soon. Various software systems have improved processes such as patient registration, maintaining health records, dispensing medication, and more, minimizing errors and improving care.
Baby Boomers personify the dilemma of caring for an aging America. Those born between 1946 and 1964 will reach retirement age by the year 2029, and the number of Americans 65 or older will climb to more than 71 million — a projected 73% increase, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
Injection-molded plastic components and devices have long been the choice of medical manufacturers for projects requiring tight tolerances, complex product geometries and lightweight versatility. This level of confidence is credited to things like trusted designs, past performance and partnerships with experienced injection molders, but one key contributor to production consistency that is often overlooked is moldflow analysis.
The complexities of your critical use medical application require you to assemble and manage a supply chain that optimizes expertise and efficiencies from a number of sources. Focusing on singular areas, like injection molding, is important to the successful performance and reliability of your medical components, but a broader view of the project must also be taken to leverage the expertise of your suppliers in order to streamline processes and achieve a faster time to market.
There is no room for error when designing critical-use medical devices and equipment. Taking a holistic view of the part/component during the design phase—including assembly implications—allows for a thorough understanding of how all of the factors involved impact the end product. It also helps injection molders identify and correct injection molding defects in engineered plastic components during early project phases, which ultimately saves money and reduces time to market.
Critical use medical applications require devices and equipment that are protected from dust, chemical vapors, aerosol particles, airborne microbes and other contaminants that could compromise product quality, integrity and safety.
Medical OEMs make device reliability a top priority, working with complex injection molders that are experienced in scientific molding to ensure accuracy in processes and production. The higher level of precision helps minimize overall costs by allowing for identification and correction of problems prior to production.
Commodity plastics are versatile materials appropriate for a breadth of applications. However, specialty or complex injection molded parts like those required for medical, fire, and safety industries may contain requirements that mainstream polymers can’t fulfill, such as chemical resistance, fire retardant properties and mechanical grade strength.