Plastics, tungsten compound offers solution to lead bans in medical

Government regulations on lead and other hazardous substances in various electronic and electrical equipment are forcing medical device OEMs and others to find suitable substitutes for parts that have been manufactured from lead and other restricted materials, with plastics coming to the rescue.

Dielectric Corp. (Menomonee Falls, WI), a fabricator of thermosets, thermoplastics, and various metals, now offers a material alternative to those being restricted by government regulations: poly-tungsten thermoplastic. This material can be machined and fabricated in a variety of configurations, and has the density of traditional metals without the safety issues associated with lead, according to the Company.

Poly-tungsten is more durable than other lead substitutes and offers equal or better radiation-shielding capabilities in electronic and electrical products. Because it is malleable, poly-tungsten offers increased design flexibility and the opportunity to create molded parts in lieu of multi-part assemblies.

Perry Pabich, COO for Dielectric, commented, "All of the expense associated with hazardous material - from material handling and manufacturing to employee safety and disposal - is eliminated with poly-tungsten. In addition, the malleable material gives designers freedom that they haven't enjoyed in the past. As a result, OEMs will find poly-tungsten to be a cost effective and attractive alternative to lead."

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, or RohS, was adopted by the European Union in 2003 and expanded in July 2011 to include medical devices and other previously exempted electronic and electrical devices. Medical devices must be in compliance beginning July 22, 2014. Other countries, and even individual states, have enacted regulations regarding the use of hazardous substances such as mercury, cadmium and lead in electronic and electrical devices, according to Dielectric.

Dielectric will have examples of poly-tungsten parts and material on exhibit in Chicago, Nov. 27-Dec. 2, at RSNA 2011, the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in booth #4755. Dielectric is known in the industry for its materials expertise and ability design custom components and assemblies that optimize price and performance. The company has another facility in Iowa, and both the Wisconsin and Iowa facilities are ISO 9001-2008 certified.

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