Attaching one substrate to another.
It shouldn’t be that difficult. And usually, it isn’t. Yet, when the application is a medical diagnostic device, for instance, things can get complicated.
Consider a device that attaches to a patient’s skin, a “wearable.” That adhesive system must be chosen wisely, with care given to how long it will be on the skin, how conformable it needs to be, what conditions it will encounter, and whether the adhesive needs to be medical grade (hint: it usually does; more on this later).
Many different types of medical adhesive tapes are used in many sorts of situations and for various applications. The ultimate decision is based on a tape that meets the specific performance need, and that often is a double-sided medical tape.
Unique Needs Require Unique Solutions
Just knowing the application is “medical” doesn’t really help select a tape. Applications have varied needs, and each one must be evaluated to ensure the medical tape meets versatility, efficiency, and overall quality requirements. Here are some things to consider:
- Adhesion: What does the tape need to stick to? What if there is sweat, hair, and/or blood?
- Easy to Tear: Unlike most cloth tapes, some medical tapes rip easily using only fingers.
- Removal: Does the adhesive make removing the tape painful to sensitive skin?
- Residue: Will the tape leave behind a sticky residue when removed? Is that OK in this application if the residue comes off after a few days of showering and activity?
- Waterproof: Will the tape stay on when submerged or just splashed?
- Pores: Some breathable medical tapes have a grid-like pattern of holes that let body fluids pass through them, and air can reach the skin underneath.
- Flexibility: Does the tape need to conform and flex with movements of the body? Think about putting it in hard-to-reach places: between fingers and toes, the palm of the hand, inside the armpit, etc.
In addition to those specific capabilities that help stick a device to skin, a double-sided medical adhesive tape may also need to accomplish:
- Covering a device
- Holding device components together
- Moving fluid
- Delivering an active ingredient through skin
Let’s explore the advantages of double-sided medical tapes.
Double-sided medical tapes can create temporary or permanent bonds to many surfaces and substrates. Most commonly used in the medical, healthcare, and electronics industries, double-sided medical tapes are perfect solutions for devices and applications that require adherence directly to human skin, such as wound care dressings/solutions and ostomy devices. Other applications include diagnostic devices, test strips, and medical device assembly.
Medical tapes are also versatile in their range of colors (or clear), thicknesses, and available backings.
Although we’re focusing on medical tape in this article, double-sided tape is used in industries as demanding as automotive, with tape replacing rivets and fasteners to bond panels together. That said, levels of adhesion are adjusted as needed for medical applications (short- or long-term wear) ensuring that the tape can be gently removed from all skin types.
The dimensional stability and construction of medical tape make it easy to convert to meet tight tolerances and create various die cut components.
Converters slit medical tape to custom widths and cut it to custom shapes. Whatever the assembly process (hand-applied or machine automation), finished components are available in the format that works best:
- Parts wound on a roll of liner
- Parts on sheets of liner
- Individual pieces with a liner on one or both sides
The best adhesive tape converters — full-service converters — take time to understand the adhesive tape’s function and the existing processes to determine what medical tape adhesive solutions work best. And, they often have a controlled environment (clean manufacturing room or ISO 7-certified cleanroom) in which the conversion of medical products happens.
Speaking of converters, many form ongoing working relationships with medical tape manufacturers, with the highest level of achievement being named a 3M Preferred Converter. These converters have experience with challenging projects, have access to cutting-edge materials, and can source double-sided medical tapes from 3M at discounts due to the large bulk orders.
An even more elite level, 3M Preferred Converter of 3M Medical Materials and Technologies, is reserved for the rare U.S. converter that demonstrates leadership in the industry, has an expert team of product development and process engineers, uses state of the art technology, and implements a robust quality management system.
Although there are many medical tapes available in the market, here are the most popular 3M double sided medical tapes:
- 3M™ 1509 Transparent Polyethylene Double Sided Medical Tape
- 3M™ 1522 Double Coated Polyethylene Medical Tape
- 3M™ 9877 Double Coated Polyester Medical Tape
- 3M™ 9889 Double Coated Transparent Polyethylene Medical Tape
4½. Clinically Tested
This one is somewhat mandatory, so it only counts as ½ of an advantage, but it’s still a big one! For a tape to be considered “medical tape,” it needs to be “medical grade,” meaning it has passed clinical tests to be FDA compliant for direct skin contact.
Medical tapes are biocompatible tapes, meaning they meet ISO 10993-1:2018 standards for biocompatibility. In short, this testing determines the fitness of a medical device for human use and examines if it creates any physiological effects. Before biocompatibility testing, the manufacturer should develop a solid understanding of the device materials, sterilization, and other processes.
Strouse’s adhesive engineers approach each medical solution as its own unique product. How that solution needs to perform in the long-term determines how Strouse die cuts and converts double-sided medical tape and other flexible materials to solve different adhesive applications.
Some materials, such as adhesives, should play a critical role when developing a new product. So, we created the Engineer’s Guide for Selecting Medical Device Adhesives, a guide to help increase the likelihood of a new product’s success. Get your copy by clicking the link below or call Stouse today (800)-410-8273.