The Best Medical-Grade Plastics for CNC Machining
Medical devices, surgical components, and other CNC machined parts used in medical applications must meet strict guidelines and deliver uncompromising performances. Failure to do so can have catastrophic consequences for care providers, patients, and other end users. These medical-grade plastics must feature:
- Compliance with FDA standards and other necessary regulations
- Sterilization capabilities
- Durability to rigors of use in medical environments
- Chemical resistance
- And other factors specific to your production
As an experienced machine shop staffed with expert engineers, Upland Fab is here to help your decision-making process. If you are unsure which characteristics are required by your planned components or would like further assistance in evaluating your material options for medical-grade plastic CNC machining, call 909-986-6565 to speak with a representative directly.
Medical-Grade Plastics for CNC Machining Productions
Teflon, also known as polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE, is a biocompatible medical-grade plastic with a very low coefficient of friction. Teflon’s resistance to chemicals, temperatures, and other environmental factors makes it suitable for many applications. Teflon is also waterproof and easy to clean. CNC machining Teflon can produce:
- Surgical equipment
- Grafts of tissues and organs
- And many other medical parts!
Despite the many advantages of choosing Teflon for your medical CNC machining production, it does have a few limitations. Creep can occur after stress, and most Teflon components require deburring after CNC machining is completed.
Also called polyamide-imide or PAI, Torlon is one of the best-performing medical-grade plastics currently available for CNC machining. It offers excellent dimensional stability, low creep, and holds up to extremely high operating temperatures. Torlon’s resistance to gamma and x-ray radiation and its sterilization ability make it a popular choice for medical applications:
- Surgical instrument handles and components
- Analytical equipment
- And much more!
Torlon is extremely difficult to machine, particularly when producing parts that feature complex geometries. An experienced machine shop with Torlon CNC machining experience can help make the most of your production.
Polyetheretherketone, more commonly known as PEEK, is a popular thermoplastic for many applications. In the medical market, PEEK is an ideal option as it is biocompatible, lightweight, strong, and can withstand an extensive range of environmental conditions. PEEK is radiopaque and performs well at extreme temperatures. It is used for CNC machining:
- Orthopedic parts for trauma fixation
- Replacement joints
- Dental crowns and bridges
- And much more!
PEEK is not suitable for every medical CNC machining production. It is an expensive material, and it doesn’t hold up well in the presence of halogens or sodium. Contact Upland Fab to determine if PEEK is right for your planned application.
Ultem medical-grade plastic is known for its high strength and stiffness. Ultem, or polyetherimide and PEI, is uniquely suited for medical parts. It is easily sterilized, lightweight, and flexible, making it ideal for CNC machining:
- Medical tubing
- Balloon catheters, stent delivery catheters, and more
- In vitro diagnostics
- Infusion pumps
- And other medical components!
Like many other medical-grade plastics, Ultem’s high-strength characteristics can make it difficult to machine. Be sure to partner with an experienced machinist who knows how to manage the material’s stresses and can achieve your desired tight tolerance parts.
Delrin goes by several names, including polyoxymethylene, POM, or acetal, and is available in different grades depending on your desired characteristics. Medical-grade Delrin plastic generally offers a low friction coefficient, high wear resistance, and extreme durability. Due to its sterilization capabilities, CNC machining Delrin is a good option for producing:
- Tubing clamps
- Patch pump components
- Stent delivery systems
- Dose counting inhalers
- And many other medical tools!
Like any medical-grade plastic, Delrin does display a few limitations. It is challenging to bond and does not always respond well to adhesives. It can also deform at extremely high temperatures. As a result, it’s important to manage heat during the CNC machining process.
Designed to meet ASTM D6456 standards, Vespel is one of the highest-performing medical-grade plastics available for CNC machining applications. It produces tight tolerance parts with complex geometries, can withstand high temperatures, is chemical resistant, and displays excellent lubricity. Vespel’s dimensional stability, creep resistance, and overall durability make it ideal for machining various medical and surgical components.
Due to the many advantages offered by Vespel, it is generally more expensive than other materials and requires plastic annealing to deliver superior products. To avoid costly errors and material waste while achieving high-quality results, always partner with an experienced CNC machining team for your production.
Upland Fab is Your Best Choice for CNC Machining Medical-Grade Plastics
Many medical-grade plastics are available for medical or surgical CNC machining productions. However, most of these materials are notoriously difficult to machine. Working with an experienced machine shop, such as Upland Fab, is the best way to save time, resources, and stress at every step of production. We specialize in CNC machining precision plastics, unique composites, and other difficult-to-machine plastic materials, and we are ready to deliver superior results for your medical-grade plastic CNC machining project.Contact us or request a quote today to begin your order.