Adhesive Applications

Pressure-Sensitive Adhesives and Non-Woven Materials for Medical Applications

Pressure-sensitive adhesives are very versatile in their applications, particularly when it comes to medical products. They have excellent wearability characteristics, can be tailored to multiple applications, and can be used in combination with many different materials.  One very common backing/support/cover layer for medical tapes and devices is non-woven fabrics.  Here we discuss the importance of pressure-sensitive adhesives and custom coatings for medical applications and how they can be used in combination with non-wovens, and other custom backings.

What Are Pressure Sensitive Adhesives? 
Pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) are a type of adhesive that bonds with surfaces upon contact, without using solvents or heat to activate. This makes them especially useful for medical applications because they are quick and easy to apply without any special equipment or complicated steps. These PSAs can be formulated to have specific skin bonding/wearability properties, and also adhesion to a variety of materials used in wound care, device wearables, device assembly, microfluidics, and many more applications in the medical field.

Custom Coating Non-Woven Fabrics 
Non-woven fabrics such as polyester and nylon are commonly found in medical applications because of their lightweight properties and durability. To ensure that these materials meet the specific requirements of medical devices, they are often custom coated with a pressure-sensitive adhesive. This ensures that the fabric will remain securely bonded at all times while still allowing for the inherent flexibility and breathability of a non-woven.

When it comes to product development and engineering, having the right material is essential. Non-woven and other materials are commonly used in a variety of applications because they offer an array of benefits such as high strength, durability, and flexibility. However, if the material is not properly adhered to its surface or component, it may not perform adequately or have the desired results. So what type of adhesive should be used to coat non-woven materials or other backings?

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Rubber-Based Adhesives
Rubber-based PSAs are natural or synthetic rubbers formulated with tackifying resins, oils, and antioxidants. These adhesives provide good initial tack and adhesion along with excellent adhesion to low-surface-energy materials such as plastics. They do not demonstrate good temperature resistance (typically <150°F) or resistance to environmental stresses such as solvents, sterilization, chemicals, or ultraviolet rays. Natural rubber (latex) can have sensitization issues if in direct skin contact and hence synthetic rubbers are more common in medical use.

Acrylic Adhesives
Made from acrylic polymers, acrylic PSAs offer resistance to solvents, UV light, elevated temperatures, plasticizers, chemical reagents, and sterilization methods. Acrylic adhesives tend to be more costly than rubber-based varieties but provide better long-term aging and environmental resistance. They demonstrate low to moderate initial tack and adhesion, and they generally do not adhere well to low-surface-energy materials, but they are highly customizable and can be made to offer improved initial tack, adhesion to low-surface-energy materials, and better wear characteristics. Clear in color, acrylic PSAs can be made porous (breathable) and have good moisture vapor transmission rates (MVTR).

Silicone Adhesives
Compounded from silicone polymers, these adhesives are expensive relative to other types of systems. Silicone PSAs generally demonstrate low initial tack and adhesion but provide outstanding temperature performance (~500°F) and resistance to chemicals. These are the only PSAs that will consistently bond to silicone substrates and other very low surface energy (LSE) materials. They are commonly used in microfluidics and other applications where stability, inertness, high temperature, and solvent resistance is required.

In conclusion, there are several different types of adhesive coatings that can be used on non-woven materials and other medical backings depending on your product needs. Ultimately choosing the right type of adhesive coating depends on your specific application requirements – do your research before selecting an appropriate product!

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