Lightweighting, cost reduction and user safety are among the reasons that plastics increasingly are becoming the material of choice for medical devices, reports Ann R. Thryft, Senior Technical Editor, Materials & Assembly, at sister brand DesignNews. She has just published a well-documented article on the continuing trend toward metal replacement and, interestingly, the development of metal/plastic hybrids in the medical technology space.
The plague of hospital-acquired infections made headlines again recently when it was revealed that a contaminated duodenoscope, a type of endoscope, used at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center exposed almost 200 patients to an antibiotic-resistant superbug and contributed to the death of two people. Back in March, PlasticsToday reported on a disposable plastic sheath that can be used with some endoscopes to prevent exposing patients to potentially contaminated instruments. In DesignNews, Thryft reports on a more sophisticated approach for improving device safety: Materials suppliers and medtech designers are investigating new instruments that are a hybrid of metals and plastics that take advantage of the design freedom afforded by plastics while optimizing the sterilizability of all device components.