The most common manufacturing technique is the extrusion process. The machine needed for this, the so-called extruder is reminiscent of a meat grinder. In this process, the material is fed in at the top end, then crushed and plastified into a homogeneous mass using a spiral conveyor, which is heated with cylinders and then recooled. The tool that gives the melted material the necessary form is located at the end of the cylinder. The strand that is squeezed out of the form is being cooled, hardened and the tube is ready to go!
The tube on its own however is not enough. You need suitable ends and applications to integrate it into a medical system. These are often manufactured using an injection molding process: the typically hot material is injected into a mold, cooled down again and a catheter tip is completed for example. The injection-molded parts can then be connected with the tube using a so-called overmolding or insert molding process, that being injection and coating. These methods are an alternative to adhering molded parts.
Hygiene is already extremely important during the manufacturing process. This is why medical tubing is produced in cleanrooms where the concentration of airborne particles is kept as low as possible. The traceability of the final product is also very important. This is why many manufacturers offer turnkey service – from raw material all the way to certified medical tubing in sterile packaging.
Silicone is perfectly suited for manufacturing medical tubing. This biocompatible material is characterized by a high level of purity. Silicone is also well suited for tubing with very small diameters. The material makes it possible to produce highest quality medical tubing with diameters of up to 0.2 millimeters. Such tubes are used in microfluidics or with microcatheters and in pediatrics for example.