The components helping critical industries
18 minutes | 17 Apr 2020
Both everyday components and parts made specifically for hygienic environments are vital in meeting the needs of critical industries. For example, the medical sector relies on components that range from snap rivets to cable clamps for medical equipment and devices.
In this article, our aim is to help buyers and design engineers make informed decisions about the essential medical components used both in the medical and food and beverage industries. Most of our solutions are available as free samples. To help make your job easier, we encourage you to try before you buy. You can also download free CADs. We’re also here to answer any questions you have and offer guidance and expert advice.
With the demand for face masks and face shields unprecedented, design engineers are using common plastic rivets, and for good reason. Plastic is lightweight, durable and offers superb barrier properties, which makes it an ideal material for equipment that’s worn. Another advantage of plastic is that it doesn’t interfere with medical scanning devices, such as MRIs, while metals can. It’s also low cost.
Here are some of the solutions Essentra Components has provided to meet the pressing needs of healthcare.
Face shields: which components?
Designer engineers use rivets in the headband assembly, at the point where it connects to the hood.
Some examples being used for these applications include Male and Female Mini Snap Together Ratchet Rivets, made of strong and durable Nylon 6/6. Also used to snap fit two panels together, they can effectively join together the materials needed to construct protective face shields.
Other snap-together rivets popular for use in face shield visors include a different style of Male/Female Rachet Rivets. Made in white low-density polyethylene (LDPE) material, this rivet has a female washer to ensure a secure fit. LDPE is flexible, resists moisture and has good chemical resistance.
Push-in rivets made of black Polyoxymethylene (POM) are another alternative. Known as push rivets or drive rivets, these have a hollow body, which gives them more flexibility and makes them easy to insert and remove. As a material, POM resists alkalis while also providing good chemical resistance. It’s often used to make precision parts for applications demanding good dimensional stability. It’s also commonly used to make medical devices.
Wing thumb screws are another fastener used for masks to protect from viruses and other threats. These thumb screws have a wing shape head to provide a secure grip when tightening the shield to the headband. The nylon 6/6 material offers excellent wear resistance and good fatigue resistance. It’s lightweight, yet strong, and possesses better chemical resistance to acids, while absorbing water at a lower rate than nylon 6.
You might find it helpful to read How to Choose Your Plastic Rivets: A Guide.
There are different types of ventilators used in hospitals: mechanical, where the ventilator works on its own, or assisted ventilation, which requires a trained professional to manually compress a bag valve mask device. Both types require a number of components.
Mechanical ventilators are complex pieces of equipment. If one component fails, the ventilator will shut down and can’t be used again. It’s critical that the components are therefore high quality injection moulded. The solutions all ventilators and respiratory equipment require vary, from cable management to PCB hardware components.
Most breathing equipment incorporates a computer to function, so you need to think about these components on a printed circuit board:
An example includes PCB standoffs. The male to female standoffs shown left, are used in ventilators’ microprocessors. A microprocessor-controlled ventilator regulates patient breathing among other things.
This is an example of why using the right components is so important. Made of nylon 6/6 with a brass insert, this durable standoff can be assembled by hand without the need for tools, and provides sturdy, insulated spacing.
Reverse Locking PCB Supports are reverse mount supports. They’re ideal for supporting the underside of the chassis, with a thin buttonhead for minimal protrusion. The top is a locking arrowhead that holds the PC board.
The mounting type is snap lock, so it easily inserts into the chassis hole, giving a secure and easily releasable fix. Made of nylon 6/6, these components resist corrosive substances and are lightweight.
A non-threaded spacer is another component used in some ventilators. Installed by hand without the need for tools, non-threaded spacers create space between components and dampen vibrations. They’re also helpful for moving parts and are sometimes used in medical infusion pumps. You can get them in different materials, ranging from nylon to polyethylene.
To learn more, read our helpful guide, Three Top Tips for Selecting PCB Spacers.
The socket head cap screw is also being used to make ventilators. Socket head cap screws are especially useful when space is limited. PEEK® is a fantastic material for this type of screw, providing excellent strength and resistance to most chemicals. It also has outstanding creep resistance, which enables these screws to withstand stresses over a long service life.
PEEK is also desirable for its ability to stand up to repeated sterilisation processes. It also has good resistance to abrasions and wear, while also resisting radiation.
Another solution useful for ventilators is foam tape, which can serve many different purposes. All machinery generates noise, including ventilators. Foam tape dampens sound and vibrations. It also provides insulation, sealing and can bond two surfaces together.
Foam tape can be used in place of fasteners due to its strength, ability to stand up to high vibration levels, and durable seals it creates against liquids, gas, dust and other threats.
The cable clamp is crucial to the performance of ventilators, keeping order and defining the route of cables. An advantage of cable clamps is that they can be opened, giving you access to cables for any repairs or replacements.
P-style cable clamps, also known as P-clip cable clamps, bundle cables, close and are secured with a screw.
Hook and loop cable clamps with side openings are made of nylon woven hook and loop, and metal. It has an adhesive base, which securely affixes to surfaces. No screws are used, which makes accessing cables especially easy.
Cable grommets are also an important component to ensure a ventilator’s high performance. The cable grommet shown here, also known as a cable hole grommet, snaps quickly and easily into place to protect wires and cables passing through panels. Materials vary and include PVC.
It’s also available as a rubber cable grommet in TPE, which resists most oils and greases. TPE is suitable for harsh environments and provides a long operating life. EPDM is ideal for use in extreme temperature environments.
Examples of other components for ventilators and respiratory systems:
They incorporate push rivets install into pre-drilled holes quickly and easily. These feet are removable.
Supplied with an adhesive, easy-to-apply backing. Won’t tarnish, scratch, or discolour when used as rubber feet or surface protectors.
Screw-on feet prevent surface damage with anti-skid and scratch-resistant properties. Fasten with a screw bolt or rivet to secure the foot in place and protect surfaces.
PVC push-fit cap stretches onto larger dimensions for snug fit. Used as a decorative end cap.
Fan guard provides protection and mounting for small DC and AC fans. Prevents debris from falling into fan blades and causing obstructions.
Press-fits onto screws. Knurled edge is easily gripped for tightening and loosening. Available in steel and stainless steel. Also available as plastic knurled head thumb screws in different colours.
Silicone rubber fan mounts with ribs eliminate the need for screws and nuts. These provide easy assembly when mounting in tight spaces. To save space, you can cut off the end after installation.
Use as a levelling device or bumper for small medical equipment. The durable, non-corrosive stud and foot resists harsh environments.
When designing hospital beds, considerations must include safety, mobility and comfort. Because patients have different treatment plans, beds have to be versatile and able to adapt to different situations with ease. This means hospital beds will need components that can meet these challenges.
Some of these components include cable duct. It’s the perfect solution when you have to accommodate a high density of cables. Flexible cable duct is available with an adhesive back while slotted cable duct mounts with a screw.
Cable duct comes in PVC and PP. Both PVC and PP are lightweight and offer good chemical resistance. They also both provide good electrical insulation. PP does a better job of resisting moisture absorption than PVC, which, depending on your application’s environment, might factor into your choice.
Cable conduit is most often used by emergency medical services in hospital gurneys. It prevents the risk of wires and cables straying and hanging off the bed, creating trip hazards and damage by being crushed by the gurney’s wheels.
Instead, flexible plastic conduit for cables is crush resistant. It bundles cables and wires and keeps them organised and in their place
Cable clips are also invaluable, securing power cables for the bed’s electric motor. These spring clips can be mounted by screw or rivet, which provides an extra degree of security in holding the cables in place.
Motion control is another important aspect of an adjustable hospital bed. With an ergonomic grip, ball knobs are comfortable to use. Phenolic is a popular material for the medical industry. Low density, it provides outstanding durability, a critical feature of any piece of medical equipment that sees frequent use. The smooth surface of these phenolic knobs also provides aesthetic appeal.
Lobed knobs are an example of ergonomics in design. Because this is a clamping knob, it’s imperative that the operator has a comfortable and secure grip for manually tightening parts and components. With five lobes, our lobed knobs are able to do just that.
Examples of other components for hospital beds:
Spring plungers use spring force to apply pressure, forcing the nose to stay in position.
Lightweight round inserts offer an easy assembly and a high-quality finish to tubular products. Provides protection from sharp tube edges and are ribbed for a secure fitting.
Use Black Polypropylene feet alone or with threaded inserts. You can make adjustments under load with the base remaining stationary.
Other needs for the medical and healthcare sector
Besides face shields and breathing and respiratory equipment, what are the other medical equipment and furniture that need components?
- Ventilation canopies for operating theatres, aseptic suites & containment labs
- Personal protection and care equipment, including visors and hand-sanitiser dispensers
- Diagnostic imaging equipment: X-ray and Ultrasound equipment, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and Computed tomography (CT) scanners
- Cardiovascular devices, including defibrillators
- Ophthalmic devices that monitor and detect vision issues
- Medication cabinets, dressing carts, and medication/drug trolleys
When wires and cables are involved, you need to consider cable management. Cable ties hold small bundles of wires or cables together to keep them organised while preventing damage. Your choice depends on your design and application, of course, but consider nylon beaded cable ties, which are easy to apply and prevent cables from slipping. These are also releasable cable ties, which means they can be opened to enable access to cables.
In addition to beaded cable ties, another option to look at are hook and loop cable ties. Hook and loop cable ties are flexible and adjustable, important attributes in the medical industry. The hook and loop material mates easily together, without crushing the cables it’s bundling. Hook and loop fastening cable ties are especially suitable for fragile cables.
You can learn more about these and other solutions in our Ultimate Guide to Cable Management.
Storing and limiting access to medicines, patient information and other important items makes your choice of locks for cabinet doors critical. A cam lock for cabinets or a locking cam latch is ideal. Cam locks, which can also be used to secure other applications, come in a wide range of types, key rotation angle and grip ranges.
Mountings for cam lock latches vary, from wing knob to concealed. You can even get them with T-Handles and a stainless steel cam lock.
You should also consider going keyless by using electronic locks. You simply swipe a card to open your drawers and cabinets, which besides convenience, has the added benefit of reducing the spread of germs.
The right hinges for medical equipment, cabinets and doors can make a world of difference. Adjustable torque hinges use friction to resist motion. Move or open the hinged application to any angle and the resulting friction provides full-stop functionality. No stopper or part is needed to support your application. The hinge does all the work.
You can learn more about access hardware, with a special focus on materials, with our Ultimate Guide to Access Hardware.
With so many screws to choose from, you can make it easier on yourself by prioritising your needs. Weight is an important factor for medical equipment and devices, so you might want to consider plastic. A great example is the slotted cheese head machine screw, which is suitable for applications where the head is not seen.
The cheese machine screw is available in nylon 6/6, polypropylene (PP), and Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF).
- Choose nylon 6/6 for: tensile strength, excellent wear resistance, and good electrical insulation
- Choose PP for: Moisture resistance, good chemical resistance, and good electrical insulation
- Choose PVDF for: high purity, chemical inertness, low moisture absorption, and excellent electrical insulation
- Hex nut only – choose PEEK for: Excellent electrical insulation and resistance to sterilisation processes at high temperatures
You also might find it helpful to read Fasteners: Which Material Do I Need?
Examples of other components suited to medical applications:
Controls the speed and acceleration of a movement in a travelling body. Simple to install and available in a range of torques and gear profiles.
A ferrite sleeve, also known as a ferrite bead, is non-conductive. It suppresses electrical magnetic interference (EMI) in electrical circuits.
Teardrop-style nose snap locks into place easily and increases holding power. The cupped base completely covers the hole and adds stability.
Pharmaceuticals, clean rooms and the food and beverage industry must operate in conditions that demand 3-A solutions. This refers to 3-A Sanitary Standards. The organisation 3-A is U.S. based and closely linked with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They also work closely with the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group.
In order for a product to earn 3-A certification:
- Your product must be FDA-approved and comply with customer needs
- You must prove to an independent assessor that the product is on the FDA-approved list of substances
- Your manufacturing facilities, procedures and procurements must meet strict standards
3-A solutions reduce the risk of contamination while allowing you to meet industry regulations. This is critical for industries that impact health. For example, every year one in ten people will fall ill from eating contaminated food. This is why 3-A products are so important to the food and beverage industry. They help eliminate the need for expensive recalls and protect reputations. Products designed to 3-A standards are also easier to clean, which can save significant time.
There are three major threats to the medical, healthcare and food and beverage industries. Here’s how 3-A solutions address those hazards:
- Corrosion-resistant materials
- No hazardous paints or coatings
- Compatible rubbers and plastics
- Minimal use of fasteners
- Materials which are inert, non-porous, impervious to moisture, and durable
- Polished smooth surfaces for clean ability and reduced maintenance
- Eliminating the use of lubrications
- Ensuring liquids are free draining
- All feet products are sloped at the base to avoid pool formation
- No liquids can accumulate on or in the products
- Eliminating cracks, crevices, dead ends or traps on the products
- Use of non-absorbent materials
- Presence of cleanable surface finish
- Polished surfaces
- Silicone seals
- Thread sheath for machine feet
Our 3-A hygienic levelling foot has a smooth, polished surface. A rough surface would provide places for bacteria to hide and spread. The thread sheath and blue silicone o-ring, or gasket, obscure and shield crevices where bacteria can take hold. Cleaning is fast and easy.
Made of 304 grade stainless steel, it offers excellent corrosion resistance, high strength and durability. The 3-A stud levelling foot is ideal for medical equipment and should be part of the sanitary design and construction of food processing and handling facilities. It should be used for diary milk processing, on an industry conveyor belt or food processing machine. These stainless steel machine levelling feet mount and support equipment, while reducing noise and damage to floors.
Silicone properties include the ability to withstand high temperatures, repel water and form watertight seals.
Another component in this range is the hygienic stainless steel pull handle. Again, this is perfectly suited to the healthcare and medical industries, and food and beverage processing.
These stainless steel pull handles suit drawers and cabinets. They also open doors and panels of equipment and machinery. Rear mounted, the handle comes with two fasteners and also has a blue silicone gasket to protect crevices at the joints from contaminants, making cleaning easy and less time consuming.
Our hygienic knobs are designed to the same standards: 304 stainless steel food safe and with a blue silicone gasket for protection against germs. Like our 3-A hygienic handles, our hygienic stainless steel knobs are also used to open cabinets, drawers, doors and equipment and machinery panels.
You’ll also find 304 stainless steel dome nuts within our hygienic range, used to cover any exposed threads on your machine assembly. These also have a blue silicone gasket to prevent ingress of dirt and other contaminants and are available in a range of sizes.
Our 3-A hygienic range includes an adjustable compression lock made of 304 stainless steel. First you get good compression within the lock to seal against ingress while isolating noise. You can even change the cam lock’s position to adjust for compression over time. Then you have the blue silicone gasket to offer another layer of protection.
Download free CADs and try before you buy
Free CADs and free samples are available for most solutions. If you’re not quite sure which product will work best for your application, our experts are always happy to advise you.
Request your free samples or download free CADs now.
Email us at email@example.com or speak to one of our experts for further information on the ideal solution for your application 0845 758 5070.