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Gasket Materials for Medical Grade Applications: A Comprehensive Overview

Just as a surgeon selects the perfect scalpel for a delicate operation, engineers must choose the right gasket materials for medical devices. The stakes are high—lives depend on the reliable functionality of these devices and their protection from contamination. Gaskets play a critical role, whether made of plastic or rubber, by sealing out bacteria, keeping sensitive electrical components dry, or shielding from electromagnetic interference.

These components must adhere to more than just good standards; they require medical-grade certification designed specifically for healthcare applications. Without such specialized materials, modern medical devices simply could not exist. This comprehensive overview will explore the vital importance of medical-grade gaskets in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of medical technologies.

Understanding Medical Grade Gasket Materials

Medical-grade materials are designed for healthcare applications and are regulated by ISO 10993, which outlines biological evaluation criteria. In addition, USP Class VI is a classification for plastics that indicates they’ve passed biological tests. Finally, for a medical device to receive FDA approval, its materials must comply with safety and efficacy standards set by that body.

Three main criteria define a material as “medical grade”:

  1. Biocompatibility: Materials should be non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, hypoallergenic, and they must not cause adverse reactions when in contact with tissue or bodily fluid.
  2. Chemical Resistance: Medical-grade materials must resist degradation when exposed to a variety of chemicals, including cleaning agents, disinfectants, and bodily fluids.
  3. Durability: Materials must withstand repeated use, sterilization, and other physical stresses without losing their properties.

Common Gasket Materials for Medical Applications

Because medical applications have such tight requirements, only certain materials will do. The most common FDA-approved gasket materials include:

  • Silicone

Silicone medical gaskets are biocompatible and flexible, withstand extreme temperatures and exposure to chemicals, and are often used for seals/gaskets, tubing, and any components that require frequent sterilization.

  • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

EPDM gaskets in medical devices are highly resistant to chemicals and durable, even after repeated sterilization. They’re often used in pumps, diaphragms, and other devices that come into contact with fluids.

  • PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene)

PTFE medical seals are exceptionally chemical resistant, don’t react with chemical exposure, and are biocompatible. They’re used for high-performance seals and gaskets that require minimal friction.

  • FKM (Fluoroelastomer)

FKM has high chemical and thermal resistance, so it’s excellent for equipment that must be sterilized and any component that’s regularly exposed to harsh chemicals.

  • Polyurethane

Polyurethane exhibits good biocompatibility and mechanical durability and is often used for wearable medical devices and catheters.

Considerations for Material Selection

When considering what materials to use for a new device, several considerations need to be taken into account, including:

  • Material degradation and long-term durability
  • Compatibility with drugs and bodily fluids
  • Mechanical stress and environmental conditions
  • Importance of sterilization and maintaining material integrity

It’s important to consider the application. For example, some devices might need more durability than biocompatibility—say, an external insulin pump that will travel with a patient everywhere they go for their lifetime. Others might need extreme biocompatibility, like internally placed ports.

When it comes to gasket material, the end use is the most important determining factor when choosing materials.

Sterilization and Regulatory Compliance

Not all materials stand up to every type of sterilization, so labels should include sterilization indicators. The most common sterilization gasket methods are:

  • Autoclaving uses steam under pressure to sterilize materials. This method can affect the physical properties of some materials, causing them to become brittle or degrade over time.

  • Gamma Radiation uses high-energy gamma rays to kill microorganisms. This method effectively sterilizes large batches but can also impact the material's tensile strength and elasticity.

  • Chemical Sterilization uses chemicals like ethylene oxide (EO) to sterilize equipment. It is suitable for heat-sensitive materials but requires thorough aeration to remove residual chemicals.

It’s important to understand what will happen to a given material when exposed to various sterilization techniques and include that information in labeling and manuals. It’s also important to ensure materials meet regulatory requirements for sterilization and other factors such as biocompatibility. An otherwise durable material that can’t stand up to sterilization will not pass muster.


Selecting the right gasket material ensures your medical devices function safely and effectively. Not all gaskets are created equal, and the choice of material can be the difference between success and failure in meeting rigorous medical standards. 

At Tapecon, we provide biocompatible gasket materials designed to perform under the strictest conditions. Contact us today to learn how our expertise can help you choose the ideal materials for your medical device applications and ensure they always make the grade.


LET'S CONNECT Contact Tapecon for questions related to application engineering, printing, converting, and assembly processes for medical, electronic, and industrial applications.  

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