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The medical device industry faces continually evolving challenges when it comes to finding the right
sealing solutions for new and improved designs. Issues such as sterilization, wide ranges of expected
pressure, potentially aggressive environments, and FDA and USP approval make the design and
specification process quite challenging. In this article, we are going to look at custom spring energized PTFE seals as a potential solution for sealing challenges in the medical industry.

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Why PTFE Seals?

PTFE is a popular choice for spring energized seals for medical applications for several reasons. One is the fact that certain grades of PTFE have been approved by the FDA as USP Class VI materials. It is resistant to a variety of aggressive chemicals, has extremely low friction, and retains its key characteristics – including strength – over a wide range of temperatures and pressures. It can be sterilized using methods such as steam and EtO (ethylene oxide), and is both hydrophobic and oleophobic.

Why Spring Energized Seals?

As you probably already know, spring energized seals are able to achieve a seal at low pressures because the spring applies outward pressure to the lip of the seal against the shaft or bore. As pressures increase, the pressure itself takes over from the energizing spring and achieves a tight seal. The result is an effective sealing solution.

Where Are Energized PTFE Seals Used in the Medical Device Industry?

PTFE seals are a common sight in the medical device industry, found in everything from dialysis
equipment and infusion pumps to oxygen therapy, implanted electronic devices, trochars, and IV
systems. Spring-energized PTFE seals are used in medical instruments, drug delivery systems, and
orthopedic applications, just to name a few.

Custom Seals

Custom seal designs are available to meet the complex needs of the medical device industry. This
includes custom engineering of the polymer (including fillers), unusual sizes or geometries, special spring materials, and more. In addition, PTFE lends itself to manufacturing processes such as machining that offer a high degree of accuracy and precision.

Conclusion

PTFE seals are popular in the medical device industry for a variety of reasons, including their low friction, chemical resistance, and excellent performance in a variety of pressure, temperature, and speed situations. Spring-energized PTFE seals provide a reliable sealing solution that is effective even in low pressure environments. Even if an off-the-shelf energized PTFE seal won’t meet your needs, you can look into a custom-designed energized Teflon seal tailored to your requirements and specifications.

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