Silicone: The Super Hero of All Things Medical
Biocompatibility- “the condition of being compatible with living tissue or a living system by not being toxic or injurious and not causing immunological rejection.” Biocompatibility is an essential requirement when designing medical devices and diagnostic applications. Constructing a piece of equipment that has low tolerance for sterilization and disinfection can lead to a patient’s increase in susceptibility to healthcare-acquired infections.
In order to reduce the susceptibility of healthcare-inquired infections and other serious infections, choosing the right biocompatible material becomes a very important decision. In the wire and cable world, there are a few materials that stand out from the crowd in terms of their biocompatible properties, the stand out being silicone. Silicone is an elastomeric polymer composed of silicon, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Silicone is an adaptable material that is used as a jacket material, adhesive, lubricant, insulation, and sealant.
Silicone is used both as a jacket material and overmold for cable assemblies in medical device applications because it is the most compatible in terms of sterilization, disinfection, and cleaning. Silicone cable jacketing is also highly flexible, a desirable characteristic for cables that are manipulated during surgical and endoscopic procedures. Silicone cable is typically jacketed using the extrusion process. Meaning, the silicone jacket fully encompasses and conforms to the wire or cable bundle. This reduces the gap between cable and jacket and prevents any harmful particles from getting into the cable.
Here is a summary of silicone’s remarkable benefits:
- Bionert- Liquid silicone rubber is typically formulated to comply with FDA and ISO 10993 biocompatibility standards, meaning the material does not initiate a response or cause a reaction when introduced to human tissue. Silicone rubber does not support bacterial growth and does not typically corrode or stain other materials
- Non-Reactive- Silicone will not react to disinfectant or sterilization chemicals
- Heat Resistance- Molded silicone can withstand higher temperatures than most thermoplastic resins. Although most medical procedures do not require the use of extreme high temperatures, silicone can withstand repeated autoclave steam sterilizations
- Strength- Silicone rubber products have higher tear strength than most thermoplastic elastomers, making silicone a great overmold material because the walls are designed thin but remain durable
Silicone is a great material to use across multiple facets of the medical industry. Be sure to check out Alpha Wire’s extensive offering of silicone hook-up wire, and silicone cable capabilities brought to you by Coast Custom Cable