Mueller Blog

Are Materials in the Health & Safety Industry More Expensive Than Other Markets?

Posted by Mueller Custom Cut Solutions Team on Feb 26, 2020 8:00:00 AM

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Products used in hospitals, dentist offices, and medical practices often save lives, and everything from IV bags to MRI machines relies on reliable materials. As a result, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that those materials cost more than those in, say, the HVAC industry.

Many people believe that health and safety materials come at a premium due to their important roles in life-saving equipment. In this guide, the Mueller medical experts are going to address this claim and see if there is any truth to it. We’ll examine the materials themselves, what factors can affect cost, and if these products are any different than those in other industries. In the end, you’ll have a clearer idea of how the health and safety industry works.

Are Materials Different in the Health & Safety Industry?

Materials in the medical industry are often the same as other industries, with some caveats. You still see standard materials such as silicones, rubbers, and plastic films, but they are more scrutinized by the governing bodies of the medical industry. 

This is mostly attributed to the testing for skin irritation and sterilization that needs to happen to use certain materials. To see use in the medical industry, materials need to withstand the atmosphere and temperature involved in sterilization and not irritate skin on contact. These materials are used in products that help save lives; it’s crucial that they don’t harm their users.

Medical materials are sent off for testing and approval, and then return with a new product number. This shows that they were tested for specific applications and are therefore safe to use.
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Are Materials in the Medical Industry More Expensive Than Other Industries?

Since the materials used in the health and safety industry are no different than those used in other markets, they are not more expensive on their own. However, the testing required for certain applications will make the cost of that material go up. Basically, when costs are higher, it’s due to the qualifications necessary for different medical products.

As mentioned earlier, most medical applications need to be tested for skin irritation and sterilization to meet certain qualifications. 

Skin-irritation testing involves placing the adhesive (or any other material being tested) on different test subjects and monitoring if any irritation is caused after a certain period of time. For sterilization, materials are exposed to steam, heat, or chemical solutions to rid the product of any contamination. Only certain materials can withstand these tests, and those that do will cost more because of it.

What Makes Health & Safety Materials Different?

Any product that is used in the surgical suite must be sterilized prior to use in this industry. While materials aren’t always sterilized before a unit is put together, you should verify that they can withstand sterilization before using them in production.

At Mueller, we do a lot of work with sterilized products. We create products such as die-cut foams that hold surgical instruments to trays, which also are FOD-free (foreign object and debris). This product exemplifies the importance of sterilization and sanitization in the medical industry. 

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Why Does the Industry Difference Matter?

Specifications and certifications make the materials more expensive when it comes to the health and safety industry. It’s rare to develop a material to meet specific qualifications; often, converters have to certify that the materials being supplied meet those specifications. 

To get the most cost-effective materials for your application, make sure you understand what qualifications they need to meet. If they have to be tested for skin irritation and sterilization level, be certain that they can withstand those tests. These tests will also affect the cost of the material, making them important to fully understand. 

Hopefully, this guide helped you gain a better understanding of how pricing works in the health and safety industry. This industry is highly specialized, so it’s crucial to recognize all the things that make it unique. Use this information to guide your material selection process and help you produce safe, sanitized products for those who need them.

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Topics: Cost, Health and Safety

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