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6 Manufacturing Challenges of Multi-Layer Constructions for Medical Devices

It’s often said that less is more. And while striving for simplicity is typically the best approach, there are exceptions to the rule.

When it comes to medical devices and equipment, sometimes you need to take the extra step (or a few) to create a multi-layer construction component. However, product design teams must be aware of the manufacturing challenges of these types of components.

What is a multi-layer construction component?

A multi-layer construction combines multiple materials into one single component. Each layer has a specific purpose – and together, the construction offers added functionality, increased durability, or other advantages over a single-layer component.

In addition to featuring more than one material, a multi-layer construction typically calls for several converting processes, including cutting, slitting, laminating, and printing. Examples of multi-layer components used in the medical field include wearables, shielding tapes, and gaskets and filtration components. Of course, one of the most exciting aspects of multi-layer converting is the ability to create unique, innovative products.

Why are multi-layer components more complex to produce?

Along with the benefits of multi-layer constructions come additional design and manufacturing complexities. If these challenges aren’t addressed, they could affect the quality or performance of the product.

  1. Material compatibility – Material selection is especially critical for multi-layer constructions. Not only does each material layer need to perform its own job, but they must also function properly together. Incompatible materials can quickly lead to performance issues, adhesion failures, safety risks, and a host of other problems.
  2. Adhesive selection – While every material is essential in a multi-layer construction, adhesive selection is notoriously tricky. Whether it’s bonding dissimilar substrates (like silicon and acrylic) or sticking to human skin, there are many nuances to consider when choosing adhesives for medical components.
  3. Precision cutting – Think of a multi-layer construction as an intricate puzzle. If each layer isn’t precisely cut to the specified shape and size, the puzzle won’t fit together. The manufacturer must be capable of cutting to tight tolerances and maintaining uniform layer thickness, just to name a few considerations.
  4. Layer alignment – After the individual materials are converted into custom shapes and sizes, the layers must be accurately assembled. Any deviation or misplacement will affect the quality of the final product.
  5. Quality control – Multi-layer components call for strict testing and process control to ensure consistent quality and performance. After undergoing multiple processing techniques, some materials can become distorted, such as stretching or compressing.
  6. Printing - Printing is a key step when producing a multi-layer construction component. Depending on your product there are numerous printing methods and technologies available, and each has its unique strengths and benefits. Printing can be used for branding graphics, user instructions, and packaging, but it can also be used to apply functional ink to the component.

Overcoming challenges with the right manufacturing partner

This article isn’t intended to scare you off from incorporating a multi-layer construction component in your product. Bringing in a qualified manufacturing partner can often help you avoid these foreseeable manufacturing challenges.

At Tapecon, we have decades of experience providing outsourced manufacturing for medical devices, including complex multi-layer constructions. Our team is happy to assist with material selection to optimize your design. Over the years, we’ve seen firsthand what materials work well together – and which ones don’t.

Our converting capabilities are well-suited for multi-layer constructions. We have machines that can perform multiple processing steps in one pass – maximizing quality and reducing time and materials for production.

Simply put, we’re here to help you overcome the challenges of multi-layer construction so you can produce the best product possible.

Let’s make something great

With over 100 years of manufacturing experience, Tapecon works with product teams to solve challenges, create products, and enhance lives. Learn more about our outsourced manufacturing services.

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