Thermoplastic fluoropolymers are commonly used in medical and life science applications due to their chemical inertness, low extractables and leachables, and moisture barrier properties. Fluoropolymers, specifically thermoplastics, are appropriate for difficult and demanding product storage due to their suitability in storing delicate molecules and aggressive chemical compounds. In this blog, we dive deeper into how these polymers are the best choice when creating injection molded fluoropolymer parts for medical and life-science devices
Injection Molded Fluoropolymers
Fluoropolymers are chemically inert and pure polymers, generally containing no additives that could contaminate liquids or solids during storage or delivery. Fluoropolymer barrier properties are exceptional: They are resistant to chemical, enzyme, and microbiological attacks while eliminating biodegradation issues. Aging is also minimal because fluoropolymers do not use any leachable or degradable stabilizing additives.
Below are a few examples of the different types of thermoplastic fluoropolymers commonly used in the medical and life-science markets:
- PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene): Commonly known as “Teflon,” PTFE is resistant to heat and weathering. It’s one of the most commonly used fluoropolymers because of its advantageous properties. It can be used as a non-stick coating for pans and cookware (hence the name Teflon), but it is also used in containers and pipes for handling reactive and corrosive chemicals due to its non-reactive properties.
- PFA (Perfluoroalkoxy): PFA was actually developed in order to achieve a true melt-processable fluoropolymer. It has excellent electrical properties as it possesses dielectric strength three to four times higher than PTFE. PFA is commonly used for lab equipment because of its optical transparency, chemical inertness (handles critical and highly corrosive processes), and overall flexibility.
- FEP (Fluorinated ethylene propylene): FEP is very similar in composition to PTFE and PFA. FEP and PFA share PTFE’s low-friction and chemical inertness properties. FEP is entirely transparent and any surface it covers will remain the same color. FEP is resistant to sunlight and is especially useful for equipment that is subjected to weathering.
Injection molded fluoropolymers provide the chemical resistance and material performance needed for manufacturing, storage, and delivery of next-generation cancer and biologic drug technologies. Next generation drug technologies are bringing new challenges because of increased chemical resistance and cytotoxicity issues (state of being toxic to cells). They need materials that are able to withstand extended shelf-life and long-term storage while containing chemical and biological substances.
Below are a few potential medical applications where fluoropolymers are proven to be compatible:
- IV system components
- Containers and vials
- Syringes and plungers
- Surgical equipment
- Tube fittings
- Plastic pumps and fittings
Fluoropolymer Parts Production
In the past, fluoropolymers were not considered for high-volume manufacturing because of their complex geometrics and the plastic market’s limited injection molding processes. With new developments in mold design, tooling, injection molding, and manufacturing equipment; injection molding manufacturers now harness the skill, knowledge, and capabilities to allow the use of these biocompatible fluoropolymer materials for high-volume part production.
Need a reliable manufacturer of injection mold fluoropolymers? Midstate Mold is equipped to handle all phases of your project, including: product design assistance, mold design, prototype development, short-run and high-volume production, and custom assembly. Whatever your requirement, we can determine your needs to create a flawless and custom plastic injection molded part. Contact our experts today!