Injection molding Life-saving parts: Plastic injection molding supports intensive care medicine in times of need
06/24/2021Editor: Alexander Stark
Germany – Intensive respiratory protective devices manufactured for long-term treatment are particularly important and in great demand during the Corona crisis. HG Geiger Kunststofftechnik has decades of experience in the manufacture of injection molded parts and has increased the production of these life-saving components at short notice.
Intensive respiratory protective devices manufactured for long-term treatment are particularly important in the corona crisis.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government commissioned various German manufacturers to build a total of 20,000 ventilators in order to ensure adequate care for all emergency patients. The high number of items and the urgency of the demand pushed both manufacturers and suppliers to their capacity limits. In order to obtain high-quality components, the medical technology manufacturers commissioned experienced suppliers with their production. Reiter HG Geiger Kunststofftechnik in Hilpoltstein, a company of the Geiger Group, has also qualified as a system supplier through 25 years of experience in the field of injection molded parts and system assemblies for ventilation and anesthesia machines, as it was able to produce the required quantities within a very short time.
“With the major order from the federal government for the fastest possible delivery of intensive care ventilators to overcome the corona crisis, the demand for corresponding components such as adapters for breathing gas purification has also risen sharply in our company,” explains Eva Söhnlein, Managing Director of Reiter HG Geiger Kunststofftechnik. “Compared to the previous year, we recorded an increase of up to 400 percent for individual components.” The production figures were increased within a few days in order to meet demand. Reiter has expertise in various product areas, so a wide variety of components were in demand.
The portfolio of the Franconian company ranges from temperature measuring nozzles and fresh gas measuring nozzles, which are required in sensor technology to monitor the patient during the anesthesia phase, through filling and connection adapters to avoid anesthesia mix-ups, to complex valve assemblies for breathing gas control. “Our components are also used to record measured values as well as to control and regulate breathing air flows, which have to be permanently monitored, especially for corona patients,” reports Söhnlein.
The intricacy of the individual components and the complexity of the assemblies formed from them make manual post-processing necessary to a large extent.
(Source: Reiter HG Geiger Kunststofftechnik)
Maintaining high quality standards even under time pressure
However, the manufacture of the assemblies is a complex process. Each component requires its own injection molding tool and the optimal production strategy must be determined at an early stage. There are numerous influencing factors here, such as the material, the area of application or the necessary steps for further processing and completion of the assembly. The complex geometries and tight manufacturing tolerances are a particular challenge. The possible manufacturing tolerances of purchased parts must also be precisely defined in advance and compensated for in the manufacturing process. In addition, depending on the area of application of the components, highly sophisticated plastics with specific material properties are used in production: The spectrum ranges from high-temperature plastics such as polyetheretherketone (PEEK), which have physical properties such as flexural strength and tensile strength even at high temperatures of up to 260 ° C to polyphenylene sulfide ( PPS), which has a high chemical resistance. Other materials are polyarylsulfone (PSU) and polyphenylsulfone (PPSU), which have high hydrolytic stability and thus enable components to be sterilized in autoclaves.
Despite the enormous pressure from the high demand and shortage of existing equipment in hospitals, the products had to meet the highest quality standards.
To ensure that the components function smoothly, high quality standards also apply to all downstream processing steps such as ultrasonic and laser welding as well as mechanical processing. The filigree of the individual components and the complexity of the assemblies formed from them make manual post-processing necessary in many cases. This applies to both the pre-assembly of small assemblies and the assembly of entire system modules. The high quality requirements for the products, which were already in place before the Corona crisis, also require a fully documented functional test of 100 percent of the components produced using complex testing machines. Both the assembly and the quality control take place in the clean room in order to guarantee the technical cleanliness of the products according to DIN ISO 16232. “In final assembly, it is particularly important to find the right balance between automation and manual work steps. So that production batches of assemblies are not overlooked during final acceptance, we have combined assembly and workpiece testing in one operation. In this way we can ensure the high quality standard of our products, for example for the manufacture of intensive-care breathing apparatus, ”Söhnlein sums up.