How Peelable Heat Shrink Tubing Innovations are Achieving Cost Savings for the MedTech Sector

Apr. 27th, 2021
Medical

How Peelable Heat Shrink Tubing Innovations are Achieving Vital Cost Savings for the Global MedTech Sector

The future of the medical tubing sector is highly dynamic, not least because there are a variety of pressures on organisations within this space to provide solutions that are not only of the highest quality, but also deliver cost savings throughout the product lifecycle. This is mainly driven by the global healthcare market, which continues to demand products and solutions that push the boundaries of what is possible at a price point that is highly competitive.

Take the catheter market as a prime example of these challenges. In the world of neurovascular and other complicated interventions, catheter manufacturers are being pushed for solutions that not only deliver complex procedures more efficiently, but also provide cost savings at every turn. In what is a highly cost-conscious marketplace, innovations like peelable heat shrink tubing products that enable catheter manufacturers to advance efficiencies through streamlining their workflows are transitioning from a ‘nice to have’ to a critical requirement.


Peelable Heat Shrink Tubing Continues to Save Vital Time and Money

The peelable heat shrink tubing (PHST) market is an exciting area to be in. Over the last two 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. The reason, aside from their desire to meet the healthcare sector’s needs, is because PHST ultimately reduces total cost of ownership (TCO) for the catheter manufacturer. Since companies no longer have to use the process of skiving the heat shrink material from the catheter, PHST can help them produce the final product more rapidly with improved yields and lower inspection levels while being more ergonomically safe.

Moving forward, newer innovations have added to PHST’s wider capabilities, for example, Junkosha’s 2.5:1 PHST solution, which has been designed to provide catheter manufacturers with the highest shrink ratio currently possible in Peelable FEP. The key advantages of this product are that it enables catheter manufacturers to save time and money through a reduced number of shrink processes. In addition, thanks to PHST’s “take-up”, 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 of this results in a reduced TCO for the catheter manufacturer, which in turn increases the margin available.

It is true that across the wider healthcare sector, there is a continued push for cost savings to be achieved, especially at the moment as the economy continues to contract. However, patient care should never be compromised. Therefore, catheter manufacturers, a core segment of the supply chain, must find ways to assist in this requirement. Solutions such as 2.5:1 PHST which provide the ability to rationalise processes and / or part numbers, and manipulate a catheter’s baseline materials by reflowing these quickly and efficiently, are a key part of this wider puzzle. Saving time and money throughout the workflow provides a reinvestment opportunity for catheter manufacturers.


Applications

The medical device sector is changing all of the time, as new innovations meet new requirements. For example, there are a number of applications where this new high ratio PHST technology will enable better processes and cost savings, including neurovascular catheters which have tapered diameters for the floppy distal segments and proximal sections with larger diameters for pushable support. Due to these catheters mainly being braid reinforced proximally and coil reinforced distally, there is a requirement for a peelable heat shrink tubing solution that can accommodate in a single step the compression required to provide significant bond strength of the materials.

In addition to enabling new processes for manufacturers in their development of innovative products, the faster and more forceful recovery of the 2.5:1 PHST products help reduce or eliminate air entrapment which can be an unwanted cause of bubbles and associated product defects such as fish eyes, voids, and insufficient strength of bonded layers.


What Next for this Burgeoning Market?

The future of the medical tubing industry will continue to be an interesting area, not only because organisations in this market face a variety of pressures from the wider supply chain, but also the need to provide cost-effective, high-quality products in less time. This is mainly driven by the global healthcare sector, which continues to demand products and solutions that break through the boundaries at a highly competitive price point.

There are numerous challenges Junkosha and its supply chain face globally, including:

• Stringent regulation across all levels of healthcare (never forgetting that it is ultimately about patient care);
• The increasing cost of healthcare, especially in the US and Europe, which places a huge strain on those looking to innovate and provide the best possible outcomes across the sector;
• The need to make procedures less invasive for patients.
• The economical situation which will have an impact beyond 2021 into 2022.

In the future, many are anticipating the utilisation of miniaturised catheter solutions will be widely adopted by most medical manufacturers working on the leading edge of microcatheter technology.

In response to this increasingly demanding market, Junkosha has tapped into another core competence, that of fine wire and cable. Since its inception over 65 years ago, Junkosha has pioneered the use of demanding wire and cable interconnects. These active catheters, which are used in multi-lumen tubing, can be seen in diagnostic applications like Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS), Intra Cardiac Echo (ICE) as well as monitoring components such as Thermocouples in procedures like Arial Fibrillation (AF). Finally, they even deliver therapy in Nuerostimulation procedures. These tiny cables, which can be produced down to sizes as small as AWG 54, are a critical and integral part of the catheter.

The fact that Junkosha can manufacture these sophisticated interconnects AND the associated catheter Fluoropolymer products, puts them in a unique position to partner and consult with an OEM or contract catheter manufacturer.

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