Permanent Marking of Medical Instruments
Using films of polyether ether ketone (PEEK) with the brand name Victrex PEEK from Victrex Europa GmbH, Hofheim, Germany, the specialist for industrial marking, S+P Samson GmbH, Kissing, Germany, has now succeeded for the first time in producing labels for the medical sector which withstand the sterilization processes in hospitals. This permits the permanent marking of individual medical and surgical instruments. The route taken by an instrument during use can thus be traced back at any time. The aim is to ensure transparency while at the same time satisfying the hygiene quality demands.
The marking of medical instruments such as endoscopes and tweezers is a difficult undertaking. Conventional markings such as laser engraving are destroyed over the course of time by sterilization and the preceding washing processes, although the instruments are still perfectly suitable for use. It is therefore not necessary to throw them away. Tracking of such instruments is then very difficult if not impossible. In the worst case, the location of the contamination is discovered too late - often only after other instruments have also been contaminated.
S+P Samson manufactures its labels from Victrex PEEK-based Aptiv films. The high-performance polymer withstands over a hundred cleaning and sterilization processes undamaged and satisfies the high legal demands on medical technology products. It is furthermore characterized by very good mechanical properties and its resistance to high temperatures of up to 260°C. It a minimal moisture absorption and is resistant to aggressive chemicals such as those used e.g. in ETO sterilization. PEEK retains its properties even after numerous sterilizations in steam. Aptiv films are also an ideal solution where high radiation doses and gamma ray sterilization are involved.
The labels can be optimally used i.a. for the application of QR or bar codes. The scanning of QR codes can enable an automatic link to be created to a website which, with appropriate programming, enables e.g. the place of scanning, time and date to be recorded simultaneously. Furthermore, the labels from Samson can be used for retrospective marking of instruments or other items already purchased. The retroactive attachment of labels offers a wide range of possibilities for increasing safety and cost efficiency in hospital management.
Tracking systems with special demands for labels are becoming increasingly more important for the medical technology sector. But the high-performance labels also have a future in other branches of industry where hygiene plays a very important role, such as in the foodstuffs industry.
Victrex Europa GmbH
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