Posts Tagged ‘plastic tubing’

The Progress of Biopolymers

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

For any reader who isn’t aware, most of the world’s plastic is currently made from crude oil. The process involves several steps, depending on the polymer that one is creating, but the total cost is still a fraction of the cost needed to create biopolymers of the same quality. Biopolymers are created by having a culture of bacteria consume large amounts of biomass. When the bacteria are mature, the culture is sterilized and the biopolymer is extracted directly. Many factors are now causing chemical and plastic companies to consider possible ways to reduce their reliance on crude oil, so reducing the cost of biopolymer production has become a greater priority. Since the polymer-using world cannot simply pay double or triple for things like plastic bags, plastic bottles, and plastic tubing, achieving this cost reduction is the missing critical factor to wide scale use of biopolymers.

The difference in cost between standard polymer production and biopolymer production is not caused by any one factor. Since the world uses such a large amount of plastic, existing polymer production facilities are huge, whereas biopolymers are mainly produced by small specialty groups and laboratories. Several companies are now considering the construction of large scale biopolymer factories, but they are waiting on the researchers to bring down the other areas of cost first. At present, it requires 3 times the weight in biomass to create a unit of biopolymer. This is because the bacteria being used are only able to consume certain nutrients from the biomass, leaving the rest behind as unusable waste material. Efforts are underway to find or engineer a more efficient bacteria for this task. The other side of the coin is to more effectively process the biomass such that a greater portion of it is consumable by the bacteria. Many different areas of research are currently being conducted toward this achieving this end, because labs and universities know the impact of these discoveries will be felt for centuries to come and the shorter-term breakthroughs could easily lead to a Nobel prize.

Understanding Radiopacifiers

Monday, May 17th, 2010

In many custom tubing applications, it is desirable to manufacture the components such that they can be seen with fluoroscopy or x-ray imaging. Typically this is done by blending the polymer with another material, the radiopacifier, which is chosen because it has a higher radiopacity. With many different radiopacifiers available, it is useful to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each before making a selection.

Barium Sulfate(BaSO4) – Barium Sulfate is the most commonly used radiopacifier for almost all medical applications where imaging is an issue, including catheters and other types of tubing. While BaSO4 does not have the highest level of radiopacity, it remains moderately priced compared to the alternatives. Because it is not as dense as other radiopacifiers, a high volume of barium is needed to achieve a high level of radiopacity and typically the barium begins to affect the strength of the polymer after it exceeds 20% by volume. BaS04 also tends to mix more easily with elastomers than the other alternatives.

Bismuth(Bi) – Several different bismuth salts are commonly used as radiopacifiers, all of which have a higher density than Barium Sulfate. The high density creates a higher weight-to-volume ratio, which means that the resulting polymer can be more radiopaque with a lower volume percentage of the bismuth salt. While bismuth fillers have been growing in popularity, the fact that they are much more expensive than Barium Sulfate still precludes their use for certain applications.

Tungsten(W) – Tungsten is considerably more dense than the other alternatives, providing the highest weight-to-volume ratio of any commonly used radiopacifier. Because of this, polymers made with tungsten can be extremely radiopaque without a significant change in mechanical properties. Though raw tungsten is also relatively inexpensive, its other properties ultimately make it a more expensive choice for many applications:
1. Tungsten is highly flammable
2. Tungsten is black and extremely difficult to change the color of
3. Tungsten is abrasive, causing accelerated wear on processing equipment and surface roughness in the end result

The Most Widely Used Plastic in the World

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

With so many varieties of plastic tubing to choose from, a design engineer has many difficult choices to make when prototyping a new medical device. Of all the materials used for such applications, polyethylene most often leads the way.

Introduced to the world of manufacturing at the time of FDR, polyethylene has since made many applications easier to manage, safer for consumers(compared to earlier metal counterparts), and cost-effective enough to mass-produce.

When choosing a type of polyethylene, mechanical factors always come first, because they are the basic requirements needed for a design to function. Fortunately, polyethylene is extremely versatile and most mechanical requirements can be met with many possible formulas. Cost must also factor into the decision, as all consumer products have a price point which limits their allowable manufacturing cost. Understanding the properties of the different grades can assist a design engineer in the selection of thermoplastic materials for products that use custom plastic tubing.

LDPE(Low Density Polyethylene) – The first invented grade of polyethylene, LDPE remains the most commonly used density. In addition to being useful for plastic tubing, LDPE is also used for plastic bags, food storage, computer/car components, general purpose containers, and many other things. While it has a lower tensile strength than the higher density grades, it has a higher resilience(maximum energy per unit volume that can be elastically stored) which makes it very flexible.

HDPE(High Density Polyethylene) – While it has many of the same applications as LDPE, it is harder, more opaque, and somewhat more resistant to heat and chemicals. It is often used for outdoor scenarios where there is a large temperature range as well as containment scenarios where chemicals need to be isolated from the environment over a wide area.

LLDPE(Linear Low Density Polyethylene) – Slightly harder to process than normal LDPE, LLDPE has higher tensile strength, impact resistance and puncture resistance. Basically this means that a thinner layer of plastic can remain intact under flexibility testing. Its primary use is in flexible tubing, but it is also used for plastic wrap, toys, lids, cable coverings and more.

UHMWPE(Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) – More expensive than most other grades of polyethylene, UHMWPE has the highest impact strength of any thermoplastic presently made. It is often referred to as high performance polyethylene and is typically reserved for “unbreakable” scenarios like artificial bone replacements, bulletproof vests, etc.

VLDPE(Very Low Density Polyethylene) – Because VLDPE is characterized by even lower heat resistance than LDPE, it is often used in packaging for frozen food and ice. Some tubing and stretch wrap is also made from VLDPE and it is commonly blended with other polymers as an impact modifier.

PEX(Cross-linked High Density Polyethylene) – PEX is almost exclusively used for long-term tubing scenarios. Many thermal properties of the plastic are improved by the cross-linking process. It maintains strength at a higher temperature and reduces flow. Under low temperatures, impact resistance, tensile strength and scratch resistance are improved. Cross-linking also improves the chemical resistance.


Nylon Tubing—the other tubing material choice

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

It’s not only plastic that leads the way in custom manufacturing tubing—nylon is just as useful and resilient.

Recognized for its tensile strength, and selected for its stability, nylon tubing has maneuvered its way into applications ranging from uses to transport vapor or liquid, for air and brake lines, or any other situation that requires flexibility and the ability to withstand repeated stresses over a long duration without negative effects.

Phew! That’s a lot to ask from nylon tubes. But regardless, the fact remains that utilizing nylon tubes in situations that will put increasing amounts of abrasion and friction on it is critical to ensure it meets the requirements of the task.

For instance, ideal for use on cooling systems, pneumatic controls, hydraulic lines and grease lines—nylon tubes-12 is less expensive to manufacture than nylon tube-11and is perfectly suited for these numerous industrial applications.

Customers who need Nylon tube-12 specify its use when they need to prevent vapor permeation, whether the nylon tubing is delivering fuel, or any other chemical liquid. This ensures that the equipment on which it is being utilized doesn’t experience failure or compromise safety.

But customers also have the option of manufacturing nylon tube-11 which is better suited for use in the food industry as it is made from materials that comply with FDA regulations.

Although this type of nylon tube is suited for other industries, such as for chemical companies, making the choice to use nylon tube-11 in use with transferring fluids whether alimentary liquids such as milk, beer or biological such as serum or blood—nylon tubes are a prime alternative to plastic.


The Places You’ll Go With Flexible Plastic Tubing

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

What is it about flexible plastic tubing exactly that makes it such a sought after tubing product?
Actually, the answer is rather simple as to why companies from automotive to medical or even home hobbyists for that matter, select flexible plastic tubing—it’s due to its availability in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and thermoplastics that provide for such diverse uses of flexible tubing.
Not only do these qualities make flexible plastic tubing an attractive choice, but also because flexible plastic tube is easily accessible to the marketplace that makes it a primary choice, particularly in a pinch. And it’s easy to install.

However, one is not only left to the stock availability of flexible plastic tubing at Home Depot or Lowe’s.

For industries requiring very specific design features of flexible plastic tubing for their equipment, they have access to custom plastic manufacturers who can readily assist them with their small diameter flexible plastic tubing needs. Now while the need could be as simple as installing a small diameter flexible plastic tube to finish off a connection in an airline; to those who require a more sophisticated flexible tubing solution such as that which may be replaced in a medical device used in the critical care of a patient during dialysis—the design of a small diameter flexible tubing requires a systematic approach in both design and manufacturing.

It should be reassuring for customers to know that flexible plastic tubing offers as much in terms of reliable performance for a water injection system as it does for a multi-fiber optical cable. But whatever the application, companies should consult with a custom plastic manufacturing company to have the added assurance that are using a highly quality flexible plastic tubing product.


The Trends in Medical Extrusion Tubing Keep Growing

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Despite the economy, and the recent surge of job layoffs, there is one fact that remains—people still need quality medical care, and as such there continues to be a growing demand for high-quality medical extrusion tubing amongst those in the medical profession.

As a matter of fact, the average annual growth rate of extrusion tubing worldwide is calculated at 8%, and this is for good cause.

First, rapid advancements in medical device technology necessitate that custom medical extrusion tubing be an essential component for use in both invasive surgical procedures and after-care treatment. The small diameter extruded medical tubes are used in applications from transferring fluids to a patient during a transfusion or intravenous, or the medical extrusion tubing is used for an intubation or during anesthesia, to name a few.

Second, because small diameter extruded medical tubes are manufactured following industry regulations, customers are provided with a pre-sterilized, disposable, medical extrusion tubing product; giving the added assurance that the medical extrusion tube will assist in minimizing the spread of infectious disease during surgery or any other application.

While the reasons for using medical extrusion tubing are vast, there is one driving factor that has affected growth. It’s due to the competency of custom tubing manufacturing companies to meet the demands of the medical industry to make improvements to the extruded medical tubes manufacturing process, such as tighter tolerances or co-extruded new thermoplastic combinations. Employing new precision manufacturing techniques ensures that the medical tubing products are designed and developed to meet the stringent demands of their customers. And due to the growth in demand of medical extrusion tubing, the incentive is built in to respond immediately.


Tubing so cool it can take the heat

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The mechanical characteristics of thin wall tubing make it an ideal choice for various applications—from its ability to withstand extreme temperature conditions to it providing material strength, excellent insulation and protection from abrasion.

First off, one of the primary benefits of thin wall tubing being able to withstand extreme temperature conditions is in use in sensitive electronic devices where excessive exposure to heat could cause damage and equipment failure.

Why does this happen?

As technology advances, electronic devices, such as integrated circuit boards become more complex. In doing so, the circuit density causes an increase in thermal properties—in other words, it turns up the heat generated inside of equipment.

Thin wall tubing in this particular application helps to cool electronic devices by acting as a conduit to pass airflow to lower the temperature, and as a result keeps the device functioning properly.

Another benefit of thin wall tube concerns its tensile properties. Its relative strength provides necessary assurance to the end user of surgical equipment, for example. During medical procedures, thin wall tubing must deliver superior performance to ensure the safety of a patient. While heat may not be a contributing factor to thin wall tubes failure, it is critical that the tensile strength of the thin wall tube be able can withstand continuous friction and maintain enough gripping strength.

Another common use of thin wall tubing is in packaging protection. In this case, thin wall tubes cut to size may be used as a band around products to aid in tamper detection.
From these varied examples, it’s evident that thin wall tubing offers a wide breadth of performance characteristics to be selected for use in a number of applications.


The ABC(D)’s of PVC clear tubing

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The benefits of PVC clear tubing are evident if you ever used it—but if not, and you’re looking for a clear choice, no pun intended, when selecting the appropriate tubing for the job, PVC clear tubing should be on the top of your list.

Some key reasons why people choose PVC clear tubing:
(A) Suitable for multitude of applications due to its ease of use and installation such as for medical devices, air lines, and pools and spas, to name a few.

(B) Provides for a versatile and inexpensive choice to replace many other plastic piping applications, especially when it is necessary in circumstances where visual monitoring is necessary, as in potable water systems.  And when the necessity for “glass-like” clarity such as that found in clear PVC tubing is critical—such as for chemical companies.

(C) PVC clear tubing is resistant to corrosion. This makes clear plastic tubing an ideal choice for medical and hospital use.

(D) PVC tubing provides outstanding flow characteristics which assists in the prevention of bacteria and sediment buildup in the clear tubes, which makes it a top choice for food processing facilities.

And another simple fact, and often times a driving factor as to why companies select PVC clear tubing concerns new EPA regulations. For many industries, such as the automotive and industrial sectors, complying with new standards for safety and energy efficiency require that they replace older tubing or pipes that transport hazardous materials—and PVC tubing is the suitable choice.

The reasons are simple and the list numerous other than these few key attributes of clear PVC tubing listed here.  But if you need more information, contact a reliable PVC clear custom tubing manufacturer.


Polycarbonate tubing…it’s for the birds

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Polycarbonate tubing may have a tough exterior, but you can see right through it for all the durable characteristics clear polycarbonate tubing offers, even from your living room window.

Now the birds may not thank you, but you can be assured that next time you notice one of them safely feasting off the seed contained in your birdfeeder, it’s was all because of the polycarbonate tubing.

Recognized for its “chew-proof” qualities is only one of the reasons why polycarbonate tubes are chosen for use in bird feeders. This durable clear polycarbonate tube is designed to keep seed safe from squirrels, cats or other predators. Better yet—clear polycarbonate is eco-friendly and safe to use; and given the growing number of consumers who are opting for eco-friendly products, it would seem reasonable that the market demand for polycarbonate tubing would increase.

Of course, polycarbonate tubes are not only applicable for use in birdfeeders by environmentally-conscious consumers.

In many other applications that require that the tubing be unbreakable, multiwall polycarbonate is an ideal choice due to its dielectric strength and ability to withstand high temperatures. As such, polycarbonate tubing is ideal for use in electronic appliances were its components may be subjected to conditions that could compromise its function.

But whether you’re an a distributor of bird-feeder supplies, like polycarbonate rod or are looking to custom manufacture your companies own line of polycarbonate tubing for a variety of other industries, you can be assured that the polycarbonate tube will provide your customers with a lifetime of use.


Which Poly Tubing is right for you?

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Poly tubing means different things to different users because it covers such a wide breadth of products.

Do you require an extrusion with radiopaque materials? Then single lumen tubing is an ideal poly tubing selection.

Perhaps you need limitless options in manufacturing poly tubing because your application is complex and requires multiple channels—then multi-lumen clear tubing may work best.

The ability for customer tubing manufacturers to make poly tubing from a variety of thermoplastic materials adds to it being adaptable for a number of other uses. For example:

  • Polycarbonate is chosen when customers need toughness, clarity and high-heat tolerance are need from the poly tubing. This thermoplastic is often selected for poly tubing used in conduits or appliances.
  • Polyethylene is specified when small diameter poly clear tubing needs to be flexible and withstand repeated flexing with marginal negative impact. It has excellent chemical and gas resistance which makes it perfect for those in the medical industry.
  • Polypropylene tubing is quite versatile with a high heat tolerance and therefore is a perfect material for fiber spinning, laminating, injection molding, etc.
  • And when the poly tubing is going to be exposed to potential harsh conditions, polyurethane is select as it is abrasion and tear-resistant.

One of the key benefits of custom manufacturing poly tubing is its relatively low costs, and its compliance with FDA, USDA, NSF, and UL regulations. This makes it an ideal choice for leading industries when they need high performance and quality from their poly tubing.