Plastics and medical devices – technical properties in a historical perspective

Content contributed by Tobias Johnsen, MA, writer of PVC Med Alliance.

Imagine a world without plastics.

The computer on your desktop, the TV on your wall and the credit card in your wallet would not exist. The car you drive would weigh more and have worse mileage, and though your smartphone may have an exterior made of glass and metal, plastics make up the lion’s share of the interior. Yet important as these consumer goods have seemingly become in our tech-crazed lives, there is one area where plastics are truly critical: in medical devices.

Humans have used medical devices for thousands of years. Metal was the principal material for the first long stretch of history as it served a wide range of purposes, including surgical instrument, dental implants and steel plates. In the beginning of the 20th century, growing demand for health care and in turn more sophisticated devices led to the discovery of new materials. Strong and heat-resistant, ceramics has primarily found use in orthopedics and dental and bone implants after being introduced in the 1930s. Closely related, glass has mainly been used for bone replacement, storage, vials and tubing. Yet the push toward better health care technology did not end there. Scientists begun experimenting with plastics in the late 18th century, but it wasn’t until the production techniques were refined by the middle of the 20th century that the material took hold and in effect revolutionized health care. Today, plastics reign supreme in the world of medical devices.

Tobias Johnsen has explained in detail several advantages of PVC and Plastic for medical devices. He particularly looks in the following perspetives:

  • Flexibility and endless design possibilities
  • Chemical resistance and safety
  • Sanitation – a constant challenge
  • The role of PVC

The complete article is available here.

Plastics and medical devices

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