The Rising Popularity Of TPE For Medical Tubes

There are huge numbers of laryngectomies and tracheostomies performed each and every year. As a result, the patient is left with a severe loss of function in the upper part of their airways, experiencing issues relating to filtering, moistening and warming breathing air, to a complete loss of their voice.

Speaking aifs and tracheostomy tubes are very important, which is why within the industry there is a wide range of medical tubes at and aids that are specifically tailored in order to meet the requirements and demands of patients with the above-mentioned difficulties.

Historically, metal tubes have always been offered to patients, although the problem with these is that the walls on them are thin and rigid to boot. Whilst some patients have no issue with using these, many find them to be uncomfortable to wear and relatively heavy.

Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE)

This is where TPE comes into play. In order to avoid irritation and for medical tubes to remain in place for treatments such as radiotherapy, soft plastic materials that are lightweight are the ideal option to go with. Because TPE can be easily processed and tubes made from it using injection moulding, it has come to the forefront for medical-grade products. 

In addition to having good processability, making TPE medical tubes produces very few emissions, is relatively low cost, and the material has a good level of reusability. The green grendiatal of the material is another reason why TPE has become so popular – after all being more sustainable is something that all companies are aiming to achieve.

The manufacturing of TPE tubes typically involves the process of extrusion or injection moulding. When extrusion is done, it requires the flow properties of the material to be perfectly set; whereas when injection moulding is done, both the neck flange and the stem of a tracheostomy tube can be manufactured in one single step. 

Solvent Bondability

Another particular area where TPE stands out from the competition is solvent bondability. There is often the requirement for microtubes to be inserted via the neck flange for the purpose of directing airflow to the area known as the cuff or for removing secretion. In order to achieve this, microtubes have to be bonded against the outer tubes. 

After manufacturing is complete, the process of sterilization begins. The good thing about TPE during this process is that there is only very minimal change of the optics and mechanics after the sterilization process.

Whilst there is a wide range of materials available for the purpose of making medical tubes, not all of them are for all medical applications and not all of them have the characteristics that make them more favorable over the traditional materials. For instance, there should be no interactions that impair the way that human organisms exist. The absorption of medication always needs to be avoided and the material needs to be completely resistant to media and also needs to be ultraviolet stable so as to avoid embrittlement.