The coating of catheters and other devices has become an exciting area of experimentation within the medical field. Device developers, manufacturers, and OEMs are beginning to utilize coating technologies in an effort to make better, safer products. This week, we’ll be talking about why medical devices are coated, how they are coated, the challenges facing device manufacturers, and the solutions Biomerics has to offer.
Why are medical devices coated?
When asked why a device is coated, Nate Henriod—a chemist and Program Manager at Biomerics—explained, “Devices are coated for numerous reasons. Most notably, coatings are used to give devices additional properties beyond what the device’s base substrate already has to offer.
“Each coating is designed to fill a specific need. For instance, certain products use a lubricious coating so that the device can glide easily to its destination within the body without snagging or sticking. Some devices are coated with drugs or biologically active compounds that are designed to elute over time. Others are coated in antimicrobial and anti-thrombogenic compounds to lower the risk of infection, blood clotting, and rejection by the body.”
In short, devices are coated with a variety of compounds for a variety of reasons. Whether a device is coated or not coated depends on its use and characteristics, as well as the specifications of the company/person producing it.
How are devices coated?
Devices can be coated using a wide range of processes. The most common ways to coat a device are through dipping and spray coating. With dipping, the devices are submerged in a vat/container of coating and then removed for drying and post-coating operations. During a spray coating process, an automatic machine is used to spray the surface area of the device with the designated coating.
The device coating process chosen depends on several factors, including design and material makeup. For example, if a device has multiple angles, simply dipping it may be insufficient as the entire surface area may not be covered. Also, if the chemical/polymer makeup of the device or coating is complex, a curing process may need to be incorporated to ensure that the coating actually sticks.
What are the coating challenges that medical device manufacturers face?
According to Nate, “The regulatory and engineering hurdles that manufacturers have to face when bringing a coated device to market can be challenging. Getting a coating to stick to a catheter, pass FDA guidelines, and perform its intended function is a difficult task that takes patience, knowledge, experience, and a lot of hard work.
“Although many devices may benefit from a coating of some kind, the value that the coating adds isn’t necessarily always worth the time, energy, and resources that go into producing it. Short term disposable devices are an excellent example. Adding an antimicrobial or anti-thrombogenic coating to a short term device can increase costs while only improving performance marginally.”
What coating solutions does Biomerics offer?
At Biomerics, we offer custom coating development and manufacturing solutions. We specialize in the formulation and production of antimicrobial, hemocompatible, and lubricious coatings.
Our in-house chemists and polymer specialists provide customers with the ability to develop custom coatings for the most unique devices and components. Our facilities and staff use the latest coating, dipping, imbibing, washing, curing, and drying technologies to ensure that our customers’ device needs are met or exceeded. We formulate the coatings in our world-class chemistry lab, and apply them in ISO Class 8 (100,000) cleanrooms.
To learn more, send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), give us a call (801-355-2705), or visit the Coatings section of our website.