Hydrophilic Coating

Quite possibly one of the farthest reaching advances in the field of medical device technologies in the last half century has to have been the creation of a wettable, low friction hydrophilic coating that can be applied to all manner of medical devices. This coating can be applied to many instruments such as catheters, cannulas and guidewires to prevent or at the very least reduce the amount of damage and inflammation they cause when being used on a patient.

Prior to the creation of the hydrophilic coating the medical community used coatings that were to all intents and purposes intended to be temporary such as glycerin, silicone oils and even olive oil. These types of lubricants had their drawbacks as they would generally separate from the equipment on the way in leaving little or no lubrication for the withdrawal process. The end result could be considerable discomfort for the patient and a high risk of injury.

Prior to the invention of the hydrophilic coating, attempts to use fluoropolymers such as PTFE were tried but met with only limited success. Many physicians and surgeons found that there was no way to control the slipperiness of the devices making them very difficult to use.

Over time this led to experimentation with substances that only became slippery or lubricious when they came into contact with bodily fluids. These coatings would therefore need to be both biocompatible and antimicrobial to reduce the possibility of infection from their use.

Early hydrophilic coatings suffered from several problems many of them due to cost. While the actual coatings were a form of hydrogel, it was very inexpensive to spray onto the device but required that the substrate be properly prepared. In many cases these coatings used organic solvents during the coating process that had to be completely removed after the coating process and required the use of very expensive plasma processing equipment.

Because of bonding issues with these early hydrophilic coatings whereby they were easily scratched or worn off the device that they were applied to, a new breed of coatings had to be developed. This newer type of coating uses the photochemical properties of a class of organic molecules such aryl ketones.

The covalent bonding process that can be activated using UV radiation reducing the time required for coating a surface significantly, this new coating process now only takes seconds and allows for high speed manufacturing of coated products, significantly reducing the cost per unit.Today there is a wide choice of both natural and synthetic hydrophilic coatings available, the choice of which is determined by the functional requirements of the device along with the cost of manufacturing. Now there is no longer a need to take a one size fits all approach to hydrophilic coating as there has been in the past.If you have equipment that needs to have a hydrophilic coating applied or is in need of reapplication of the hydrophilic coating , Surface Solutions Group has the facilities necessary to handle any of your medical coatings needs. Whether you need hydrophilic, low friction or antimicrobial coatings their staff of engineers, chemists, technicians and executives are there to help you.