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Combining Material Forces for Composite Tubing

Composite tubing affords flexibility in a multipurpose package for minimally invasive applications.

By Shana Leonard | MPMN | January/February 2009

Whereas OEMs repeatedly voice their desire for tighter tolerances, thinner walls, and ever-shorter lead times, a new set of demands for medical tubing is becoming increasingly more audible. With the increased use of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and the emerging field of natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES), the need for minuscule, multifunctional, problem-solving tubes that offer design flexibility is on the rise.

“It used to be that you could just have a homogeneous tube — a tube that was either going to carry fluid or be a path for a guidewire,” observes Tim Lynch, operations manager for MicroLumen Inc. (Tampa, FL; www.microlumen.com). “But today, the devices are getting more and more complex. They’re trying to do more and more in smaller devices, and therefore there’s really not enough room to have tubes that function only as a tube—the real estate in there is critical and tubes have to have multiple features and multiple purposes.” Aiding in living up to this expectation of multitasking are multiple materials and geometries in the form of composite tubing.

Polyimide medical tubing samples showing custom laser machining and braid reinforcing.

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