Plastic medical tubing may not be up to the challenge

Medical technology continues to advance and new, minimally invasive, procedures are arriving. As a result, device designers need to create specific medical tube products. These include ones that are more sophisticated but cost efficient and even smaller in diameter. ERW tube can be a really good option, especially if you compare to other materials.

Metal tubing has been a mainstay of the medical device industry for years. Plastic tubes also have a presence. Thousands of resin compounds have been created to present particular physical characteristics. Examples include lubricity, pushability, flexibility, and strength. People do perceive plastic as being cheap and flexible to use in the field. But, there are myths surrounding it. We are going to discuss some of them and explain why plastic medical tubing may not be better than its metal counterpart.

Reusing it

ERW tubeOne myth is that you can reuse plastic medical tubing as easily as metal variants. People try saying this to counter disposal concerns. What you must know though is that when you reuse tubes here, the material must preserve its attributes. These include chemical and biological resistance, compatibility, and strength. They must do this with repeat exposure to sterilisation, disinfectants, and routine cleaning.

You can re-sterilise metal medical tubes using many approaches. This depends on the particular material attributes. Examples would be chemical disinfectant, gamma irradiation, dry heat, and autoclaving. The trouble is that plastic tubing might not have the means to stand up to these methods and preserve its characteristics.

For instance, there is the preferred approach for catheter device sterilisation. It utilises gamma irradiation or electron beam. Such high-energy techniques mean you can’t use popular fluoropolymers within catheter assemblies. Doing so would comprise the devices and their performance. Come to us if you are in need of ERW tube products.


Our second myth is that plastic medical tubing is as strong as metal tubes. There are high performance polymers. They can offer metal-comparable levels of rigidity and strength at ambient temperature. Although, when you compare to other tube, metal still reigns supreme. It is robust and strong enough that you can use it for high pressure fluid flow and a high degree of structure.

There are many situations where metal is the clear best choice. For instance, it manages to hold its shape more effectively. Plus, it is the better choice for the likes of biopsy needles that need to go through the bone. Top quality stainless steel is employed in a huge collection of dental and surgical instruments. Here, the metal tubing manages to meet the necessary strength to weight ratio. The same goes for fatigue life and microbiological corrosion needs.

For more strength, you can construct metal tubing in individual shapes. Examples include square, rectangular, oval, and circular. Or, you can have multiple concentric layers. It is possible to reinforce plastic tubing using a layer or braided metal wire for more torque transmission and strength. But, the process takes much effort and is costly.

Cost efficiency

The last myth we will cover is that plastic tubing is more cost efficient than metal. Cost savings are a massive driver in healthcare. But, it may not be as clear as you think it is, especially if you think of plastics and ERW tube.

Plastics do provide the ability for you to make single-use devices and medical tubing that is disposable. This eradicates the cost of re-sterilisation following use. Furthermore, it can be cheaper to process the materials if you compare to metals. However, it might be cheap to make plastic parts after large-scale manufacturing starts, but the cost of making a mould can amount to thousands or tens of thousands in initial outlay. This depends on the mould’s style. Such details can make small runs and prototyping very expensive.

Metal medical tubing carries on being a cost effective solution in numerous devices. These are ones needing resistance to certain fluids or solvents, or precise tolerance. It is the same for other functional characteristics. While plastic can be good for medical needs sometimes, you cannot cut it as precisely as metal. This is critical to think of when the accuracy of tubing can save lives.

We can meet your specifications for ERW tube

At Union Steel Tubes, our collection of products gives us the confidence that we can cover all our clients’ specifications. The options we have include square, oval, round, and rectangular tubing. Also, there are special solutions like pre-galvanised and seamless.

So, if your situation calls for ERW tube, get in touch with us. We’ll help you find the right products.