So what’s in a fabric? And why do manufacturers come up with so many choices?
Choosing the correct fabrics for medical products can be a bit more complicated than selecting the right material for a pair of jeans. Medical device manufacturers spend a lot of time considering things like where the product will be used, how often it will be used, what it will be cleaned with, who will be using it and how it interacts with human tissue.
SunTech asked questions like these when setting out to create our latest line of blood pressure cuffs. We knew that these cuffs would be used in critical care areas where high patient throughput and short-term use are typical, but infection control is vitally important: emergency rooms, ambulances and operating rooms. The product had to be easily cleaned, tough enough to use on multiple patients and, above all, hold up to stringent infection control policies. Additionally, SunTech wanted to make sure that the cuffs were comfortable for patients to wear and affordable enough for today’s difficult financial environment.
Working with vinyl can be a challenge when creating a blood pressure cuff because not all vinyl materials are created equal. SunTech was looking for very specific characteristics—something that the patient could wear directly on their skin, that could be thoroughly cleaned several times and that was durable. And since the blood pressure cuff is essentially a sensor for transmitting pulse wave signals, we had to ensure that the chosen material didn’t inhibit performance either. Many materials were examined and tested before we decided on one that met all of the requirements. We finally found a material that was economical enough to be used in high-throughput areas of hospitals, durable enough to be cleaned and disinfected between patients and provided excellent patient comfort!
But admittedly, it would make a poor pair of jeans.