Case Study Four: Medical

The tenacity of Junkosha engineers creates
the world’s first fluoropolymer peelable heat shrink tubing

While leveraging our deep roots in fluoropolymer manipulation, Junkosha’s engineering team showed both ingenuity and tenacity in providing a real medtech breakthrough by creating the world’s first peelable fluoropolymer heat shrink tubing.

The peelable heat shrink tubing (PHST) market is an exciting area to be in. Over the last few years it has grown considerably as the medical sector realise the benefits PHST can bring. Not only does it address healthcare customers’ unmet needs, solutions including ultra-small PHST also pave the way for progressively smaller catheter-based procedures – a continual requirement for medical device manufacturers.

Toughness and Peelability

Removing traditional FEP-heat shrink tubing (HST) smoothly has been a serious problem in catheter manufacturing for many years. FEP-HST is used to weld, laminate, tip and other processes. The only way to remove it from the catheter is by ‘skiving’ it off, which not only takes significant time, there is also a possibility that the catheter can become damaged in the process. Both costly and time consuming, the market needed to find a viable solution to this unmet need.

With the challenge set, Junkosha set out to design such a product. Leveraging our depth in Fluoropolymer blending, molding and processing coupled with a not insignificant amount of tenacity, we moved from proof of concept prototypes to full manufacturing in a short time. Offering all of the performance of standard heat shrink tubing, PHST included one critical difference: it is very easy to remove from the catheter. Our PHST solution needs only a single slit at one end to get it started, enabling it to be easily peeled along its entire length. This solution reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) for catheter manufacturers, by helping them to produce the final product more rapidly with improved yields and lower inspection levels while being more ergonomically safe.

Engineering a New Standard in Shrink Ratios

Developments in the peelable heat shrink tubing (PHST) market are continuing all of the time. For example, Junkosha has developed what was the first ultra-small PHST and highest-shrink ratio PHST on the market. Our ultra-small PHST is the only suitable tubing for laminating jacket coatings to tiny guide wires, for example 0.014”, leveraging the fact that PHST has a recovered ID down to 0.009”. These miniature guide wires are perfect for applications including the navigation of vessels to reach a lesion or vessel segment within, for example, the brain or heart. The high-shrink ratio PHST (2:1) is ideal for manufacturing processes where tapered microcatheter shafts are used or where tolerance take-up is an issue.

In addition, Junkosha’s newest solution, 2.5:1 PHST, has been designed to provide catheter manufacturers with the highest shrink ratio currently possible thanks to its proprietary design techniques, enabling customers (in turn) to save time and money through a reduced number of shrink processes. Furthermore, thanks to PHST's high temperature, it allows the use of cost-effective, lower tolerance, baseline materials in the manufacturing process, and enables the ability to reflow these easily into a single smooth construct. All this results in a reduced total cost of ownership for the catheter manufacturer, which in turn increases the margin available for potential reinvestment across the entire product development cycle.