With a value of more than $13 billion, medical wearables is quickly emerging as one of the fastest growing industries. Medical wearables are cost-effective and convenient, and they can accurately keep track of things like respiratory activities, blood pressure, disease state and other functions. These wearables store data and deliver feedback for further action. Wireless communication technologies and miniature sensors are largely responsible for this development, but the growth of engineered thermoplastics has also made things easier simply because all this growth would have been laid waste if the material that was to be worn was uncomfortable.
Such is its importance that things like discomfort and skin irritation could actually lead to non-compliance. It isn’t just about compliance though. The chosen material for medical wearables needs to meet certain mechanical precursors in terms of variable temperature, toughness, strength and the ability to resist chemicals.
A Modern Trend?
Even though medical wearables have become one of the most trending things today, they have actually been around for quite some time. Think about it. Eyeglasses came into being as early as the 13th century. The ordinary band-aid was invented in the year 1920. Modern-day wearables are being embedded with wireless technology and are starting to look more and more fashionable. And that makes all the difference!
The biggest expectation that people have from medical wearables is that they will work for a long period of time and that they are difficult to misuse. At the same time, they should be easy to use and comfortable to wear. Some would argue that these concerns pertain more towards design factors, but what is design without the right material? And that’s where engineered thermoplastics come into the picture. They allow manufacturers to make the material durable, safe and easy to use.
The Complexities of Modern Day Wearables
One of the most complex areas is wireless communication. There are just so many questions that need to be answered. Things like the ability to transmit wireless wavelengths and the material’s effect on data transmission are key concerns to deal with. In addition to this, the material should be resistant to chemicals and water. Water is often looked upon as an inert material, but one needs to realize that even water can cause some materials to react chemically. There are thermoplastic composite materials that such as nylon that react to water, but there are some that don’t cause any reactions either. Moreover, the presence of water as well as its source (sweat, body of water, rainfall, etc.) can also affect the material’s performance.
Cost Versus Performance
There are all kinds of tests for bio-compatibility and skin exposure that need to be fulfilled before a material can be used in medical wearables. This makes the cost vs. performance factor even more important. Thanks to the growth of engineered thermoplastics, there are low-cost materials and other high-end materials to choose from, both satisfactorily meeting performance and design expectations. Common low-cost materials include polyolefins while nylons and polyesters are usually used as high-end thermoplastic composite materials.
The medical wearables market is sure to expand over the next few decades as new innovations make it easier to combine comfort with performance and continue to make designs more fashionable than ever before.