This solution often involves plastics, especially when it comes to parts and casings. The medtech field is constantly evolving, and, as a result, a huge array of plastic manufacturing methods are utilized throughout production. But what are these methods, and what patterns do they follow on an industry-wide level?
Ray Products—a California-based thermoformed plastics manufacturer—recently conducted its sixth annual Plastics Manufacturing Survey to gain more insight into how plastic manufacturing operates in medtech and other industries. The results were quite informative. Following are some of the biggest takeaways from this year’s results as they relate to medical device manufacturing.
Preference for Domestic Plastics Manufacturing
Seventy percent of medtech industry participants preferred domestic plastic manufacturing to offshore—significantly higher than the industry-wide average of 56 percent. Reasons stated included quality and aesthetic superiority.
Medical Devices & Thermoforming: Higher Than Average
Medical device manufacturers utilized thermoformed plastics at a higher-than-average rate. Just under 34 percent of medtech industry survey participants reported using thermoforming in at least one project over the past year—more than the industry-wide average of 31 percent.
Quality is #1 Concern, Industry-Wide
From a list that included engineering support, cost, expertise, communication, finishing capabilities, reputation, and more, quality was named the most important priority when selecting a plastics manufacturer across all industries.
Top Industry-Wide Concerns: Total Project Cost, Part-to-Part Repeatability
The survey also asked respondents what their biggest concerns were when selecting a plastics manufacturer. Total project cost topped the list at nearly 40 percent, followed by part-to-part repeatability at roughly 23 percent. These two concerns indicate why many industries gravitate toward pressure forming, in particular, which provides more consistent repeatability and lower cost at mid-range scale than other methods of production.
As more varieties and uses of medical equipment develop, so must the manufacturing industries that support them. The insights and expertise of plastics manufacturers like Ray Products not only provide a useful sense of how materials are currently used for the development of medical equipment, but can also shed light on how they may be used in the future.
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Jason Middleton is vice president of sales & development at Ray Products, a custom heavy gauge thermoforming manufacturer founded in 1949 and located in Ontario, Calif. With more than 15 years of plastics manufacturing industry experience, Middleton plans and executes successful pressure forming and vacuum forming projects for clients in a wide range of industries.