Selecting the Right Materials for Your Medical Device
A lot of care and effort goes into designing, developing, and manufacturing medical devices. As such, product developers must take their time in researching and choosing the right materials for every product. You can’t simply pick any ordinary plastic to fit your needs. Material selection is an intricate process that requires knowledge of a material’s attributes, sampling and testing procedures, and consideration of several factors and requirements. That’s why product development firms provide expert material selection services. This way, companies can determine the best material choice possible for each product they develop. Learn more about selecting the right materials for your medical device with this overview.
The Importance of Selecting the Right Materials for Your Medical Device
Developers can choose from over 10,000 medical plastics for their products, and companies introduce new materials every year. With so many options available, choosing the best material for a product becomes a precise and necessary step in design and development. The wrong material might be incompatible with the assays and reagents a product must work with. A material that is too rigid might break quickly, while a flexible material might not have the sturdiness a device requires. All in all, choosing the right material means choosing optimal functionality, efficiency, compatibility, and reliability. Developers must take material selection seriously to design quality medical devices. This means considering the following key factors.
Material compatibility is important for any product, but it becomes crucial when you design medical devices. Medical product developers must make sure their materials are compatible with the other pieces of the device as well as any assays and reagents. Incompatibility can cause adverse reactions and ruin the functionality of the device. For example, chemicals within certain types of plastic can interfere with assays and cause them to fail. In other scenarios, the wrong material might bind the analyte and prevent the sample from working properly within the device. These and other reactions hinder the diagnostic function of the device, leading to an inaccurate and failed product. Additionally, developers must pay attention to the biocompatibility of their materials. A biocompatible material will not cause issues when it interacts with biological materials such as blood, urine, or tissue. This is a crucial part of making medical devices safe for professionals and their patients.
Developers must keep the mechanical properties of a device in mind when choosing a material. This means thinking about the performance, strength, flexibility, and durability requirements of the product. Properties such as density, conductivity, and chemical resistance come into play here. Developers must also consider the look and feel of a product’s material. Does the device have a good grip or comfortable feel, making it easy for customers to use? Can this material create a product that is strong but lightweight? Will the material need an additive to enhance functionality? Additionally, developers must think about the average wear and tear a product might experience. Materials that offer high impact resistance or flexibility against cracks create a more durable product that end-users can rely on for daily use.
While functionality of the end-product is important, developers must also consider ease of assembly. For example, if a device requires interlocking pieces, the material must be flexible enough to fit together with other parts. A brittle material will be too stiff to perform this function. This might cause it to crack under the pressure and ruin the device. Developers must also choose materials that they can mold into the complex and often miniature design of their product. This can be a delicate process, but having a material that’s up to the task makes it easier. Adhesives also play a role in material selection. The adhesive you use varies depending on the pressure requirements of the device. Some adhesives create adverse reactions with certain materials. Make sure the material and the adhesive are compatible with each other.
Some materials can do it all. They meet every requirement—compatibility, ease of assembly, functionality—for an incredible range of product designs. Despite their usefulness in myriad applications, these materials simply aren’t feasible for most company budgets. Developers and customers alike must keep cost-effectiveness in mind when designing products. This is especially true in the case of single-use, disposable objects. A material can work perfectly for the device, but if it puts the cost of design and manufacturing over the customer’s cost target, it’s not an ideal choice. That’s why developers must balance the cost of a material with the rest of these considerations to come up with the best overall choice.
Availability of Materials
As with any product, availability is crucial to choosing and working with the right materials. Companies need to know they can consistently obtain the materials necessary to manufacture and distribute these medical devices. Material availability also helps developers streamline their design and testing process. This is why Gener8 keeps a large stock of materials on hand at our San Diego facility. Wait times for certain materials can take weeks, but with over 150 different types of injection molded materials, Gener8’s developers can start working with the desired materials right away. The most common standard grade materials are always in stock alongside excess materials from previous projects. Humidity and temperature-controlled warehouses extend the shelf life of these materials, keeping them fresh and functional for years instead of mere weeks or months. This quick availability eliminates wait times for both developers and clients, allowing them to create and start testing a design faster.
Expert Material Selection Services
When it comes to mechanical engineering for diagnostic devices, you want a partner that has a thorough knowledge of materials and their components. At Gener8, our dedication to and specialization in medical device design makes us experts in selecting the perfect material for your product. Years of experience in medical device design means we have thorough knowledge about material options and sub-options. Meanwhile, our broad stock of materials means we can jump into a new design and start sampling quickly, making the development of your product fast, efficient, and simpler than ever. We’ll work with you to find the right materials to create devices you know you can trust.