“Colors can put patients at ease,” Park told PlasticsToday. If they are anxious about a dental procedure, for example, or are about to undergo a serious exam, the color of the room and the medical devices can allay that anxiety. “Cool colors, for example, are associated with relaxation, tranquility. Yellow and orange are associated with optimism, so those colors are great for rehabilitation devices. I try to use colors to promote positive emotions,” explained Park.
Park was introduced to the color, materials and finishing category of industrial design while working with a team that made iPad and iPod accessories. She has brought that sensibility to medical design at Starfish Medical, where she judiciously applies color theory to medical devices not only to soothe patients but to bring confidence to physicians.
Number 5: Medical design excellence, brought to you by plastics
The winners of the annual Medical Design Excellence Awards are featured in this slideshow and—wouldn’t you know it?—polymers and plastics processors, played a significant part in the design and manufacture of these products.
For example, the winner in the Implant and Tissue-Replacement Products category was the Visitec I-Ring from Beaver-Visitec International (Waltham, MA). The single-use pupil expansion device safely and gently retracts the iris to view and access the lens during cataract surgery. The device incorporates six injection molded parts made from four different thermoplastics and a micro-molded polyurethane co-polymer hoop is designed with four living hinges, four through-holes and features as small as 0.002 inches. Scientific Molding Ltd. (Somerset, WI) was a supply and design partner in this project.
Number 4: Materials often are the root cause of medical device recalls
Materials are the major or possible cause of 30 to 40% of FDA recalls for medical devices, according to Jeffrey Ellis, Principal Research Scientist at Battelle (Columbus, OH). The reason can often be traced back to the material selection process and an over reliance by engineers on material data sheets, Ellis told PlasticsToday.
“You may find a material that looks great on the materials data sheet, but remember that all of the testing, unless specified otherwise, is performed under ASTM conditions, which are usually 23°C and 50% relative humidity,” explained Ellis. “If your device is not always going to live at those conditions, then you are probably going to see properties that are different from what the data sheet says.”
The way your material is processed also introduces variables that may not be taken into account in the data sheet. “You should be testing your material the way it’s processed for your application at the temperatures, pressures and humidity to which it will be exposed,” said Ellis.
Number 3: Fighting back against plastics haters
Regular readers of PlasticsToday know that veteran reporter Clare Goldsberry pulls no punches when it comes to calling out activist organizations that seek to demonize plastics in the name of health and safety issues. She really took off the gloves in this piece, urging plastics industry associations to fight back against junk science in the public arena.
“People need to be informed—and it’s up to us in the industry to take on that task, so that decisions can be made based on good science,” she wrote. “We need to work with the large consumer products companies such as P&G, Mondelez, Campbell Soup and others, and let them know that we back their decision to make food packaging as safe as possible, while also ensuring that the science is science, not hype, and that we as an industry built on science have their backs!”
Her call to resist resonated with the PlasticsToday audience, making this article the third most popular medical-related piece of the year.
Number 2: The connection between Wolverine and advances in materials science
Children pestered by their parents to stop wasting time reading comic books have a hero in Chao Wang, an adjunct assistant professor of chemistry at University of California, Riverside. A lifelong love of Wolverine and his regenerative superpowers inspired him to develop a transparent, stretchable, conductive material that, like the Marvel Comics character, can take all manner of abuse and heal itself.
The rubber-like material can stretch 50 times its original length; after being cut, it can completely re-attach, or heal, in 24 hours at room temperature. Wang and his fellow researchers at UC Riverside are exploring the potential applications, which include self-healing robots and biosensors.
Number 1: BD wants to take injection molding to the next level
The intersection of injection molding and medical technology got a tremendous amount of attention from the plastics processing community. Medtech company BD, one of the 10 largest medical device companies in the world, according to MarketResearch.com, broke ground in November on what it describes as its flagship injection molding and manufacturing facility in Columbus, NE. It is spending in the neighborhood of $60 million to upgrade and expand its facility into “one of the largest and most sophisticated plastic molding plants in the world,” said the company.
Reportedly one of the largest users of injection molded plastic parts in the world, BD plans to centralize its molding activities at the plant, which is expected to be completed by 2021.