When you think of the latest innovations and updates in health care and medicine, you’re probably thinking of the research and testing that has gone into bringing them to the public rather than the materials they are made of. However, plastics and plastic manufacturing play an essential role in our healthcare, extending life expectancy, changing how we take medicine, transforming prosthetics, and so much more!
The Dependency on Plastics in Health Care
The key to realizing why plastics are so heavily relied on in health care is in their functionality. Plastics offer the following features that other materials simply don’t bring to the table:
- Versatility: From thin, flexible IV bags made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to polycarbonate incubators in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU), there are near endless ways to use plastic.
- Sterility: Using plastics in hospitals cut down on infection and spread of disease. There are single use tools, such as surgical implements that are safer to dispose of than try to sanitize, but even multi-use tools and furnishings can be coated in an antimicrobial coating to reduce bacteria while the non-porous nature makes them easy to sanitize.
- Cost-effective: Plastics are generally much more affordable to manufacture and reproduce on a mass scale, and because they generally don’t corrode or shatter, they are more reliable and durable in a hospital environment than glass or metal.
Medical Breakthroughs Made Possible by Plastic
In addition to the standard uses of plastics in medical supplies and equipments, our medical thermoforming company is sharing some of the latest breakthroughs.
Accessibility of Prosthetic Limbs
While 3D printing is a fairly new technology, the medical community is using it to make prosthetic limbs more accessible for a wider population. In fact, the first 3D printed prosthetic hand was almost an accident. Prop designer and artist, Ivan Owen created a mechanical hand by 3D printing and posted videos of it online. People saw the possibilities of 3D printed prosthetics, and reached out to him. From there, designers of prosthetics as well as non-profit organizations, such as Limbitless Solutions are using 3D printing technology to create affordable, functional mechanical prostheses.
For people in heart failure, there may not be time to wait for a heart transplant. Fortunately, SynCardia has created a temporary artificial heart made from biocompatible plastic that has two ventricles and four valves that pump blood through the body, just like a human heart. While it’s not meant to permanently replace the need for a heart transplant, this innovation extends the life of people who need a heart transplant, giving them valuable time to wait for a donor heart to become available.
Getting a shot is painful, especially for young patients or for people who may have to take daily injections. Fortunately, there are two new ways to quickly deliver medicine without a jab from a traditional needle.
First is a patch that consists of numerous “microneedles,” which are less than a millimeter long so when placed on the skin, they don’t deeply pierce the area. However, the needles dissolve, allowing the medicine or vaccine to quickly and effectively penetrate the skin. The other option is a jet-injector. This small medicine-filled bulb is squeezed against the inside of the cheek, delivering medicine through the mucosal layer without having to pierce the skin.
Injectable Plastic to Stop Bleeding
In cases of severe trauma when there is massive internal injury, many victims don’t make it to the hospital for treatment. To combat this problem, researchers are working on a plastic that can be injected where there’s internal bleeding to improve clotting and reduce bleeding. While it’s about five years away from clinical trials, this innovation could save lives after car accidents, during military action, or after serious falls.
Contact Us for Thermoformed Medical Plastics
At Advanced Plastiform, we work with medical companies to create all types of plastic products, packaging, and equipment components. We take pride in ensuring that our finished products are durable, align with regulations, and are highly accurate to the design. To learn more about our medical thermoforming and injection molding, reach out to us today! We work with customers across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic and would love to bring your design to life!