3.1.11 Medical Applications

Flexible tubes, needles and hubs are among the components in the medical device industry that require the flexibility provided by adhesives to join dissimilar substrates. Applications vary from bonding stainless steel cannulas into plastic hubs and adhering elastomeric balloons or plastic connectors to catheter tubes to assembling blood filters and reservoirs.

All of these different applications have some similar requirements and are typically produced in very high volumes. They require an adhesive that provides handling strength within seconds so that quality control can be done immediately on the production line. Often there is a need for fluorescence in the adhesive product so it can be detected to ensure correct and sufficient application. Most adhesives developed for the medical device industry are biocompatibility tested (ISO 10993) to meet the requirements and standards for the end product before launching into the market; this simplifies the certification process for the device manufacturer.

A selected adhesive for each application should also withstand the various sterilisation methods used for the end product. Special adhesives are even used for skin sutures. The use of adhesives allows incisions to be closed three times faster than with regular stitches, and they form a protective barrier against infection-causing bacteria. They are also gentler to the skin than stitches and eliminate the need for bandages. As the wound heals, the adhesive disappears without further intervention.

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