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The Hygiene Factor: Adhesive Sensors and Skin-Friendly Materials for Prolonged Wear

The Hygiene Factor: Adhesive Sensors and Skin-Friendly Materials for Prolonged Wear

More than ever, healthcare professionals are turning to wearable sensors and medical devices to handle everything from monitoring vital signs to helping diagnose and manage certain health conditions. Advances in sensor technology and the materials used to make them have led to some incredible innovations that are changing the way we look at healthcare—but there are still some challenges to overcome.

Most notably, manufacturers of adhesive skin sensors are tasked with the challenges of making these sensors both skin-friendly and suitable for prolonged wear.

The Importance of Skin-Friendly Materials

Using skin-friendly materials to produce adhesive health sensors is critical to the long-term comfort of the patient wearing the device and the longevity/accuracy of the sensor itself.

Specifically, using hypoallergenic and non-irritating materials is essential to maximizing comfort, especially in devices designed to be worn 24 hours a day. Because some patients may be allergic to some materials commonly used in adhesives, producers of these sensors must be conscious of the materials used in manufacturing to avoid allergic reactions and other adverse effects (such as rashes and blisters) on users.

At the same time, the materials used in skin-friendly adhesive sensors need to be resilient and durable enough to actually stick to the skin on a long-term basis. Not only does skin bend and stretch—but it also compresses, sweats, sheds, and secretes natural oils that can affect adhesion. Because of this, sensor adhesives may lose their skin-adhesive qualities gradually over time or be susceptible to being pulled or knocked off.

Material Science Behind Adhesive Sensors

Fortunately, science has come quite a long way regarding the materials used to make hypoallergenic adhesive sensors that stand up to the elements of everyday life. Studies have been done on various materials to determine which are most effective in staying adhered to the skin (even in adverse conditions) without irritating the skin.

More specifically, medical-grade tapes and patches utilize such materials as:

  • Vinyl
  • Foam
  • Non-woven polyester
  • Urethanes
  • Polyethylene
  • Rayon acetate woven fabric

Meanwhile, skin-friendly adhesive sensors are designed with a component known as a "release liner." These liners are designed to protect the adhesive side of the tape before use and are removed immediately prior to use. These liners are made with skin-friendly materials, including paper, polyester, and polypropylene.

Design Considerations for Prolonged Wear

In producing skin-friendly adhesive sensors, special design considerations like breathability, flexibility, and adhesive strength must also be taken into consideration. Skin is a living and breathing organ that doesn't particularly like being covered or restricted, so using materials that will allow the skin to "breathe" and air-out without sacrificing adhesion is critical to comfort and hygiene.

Tapecon's Expertise in Adhesive Sensor Development

At Tapecon, our team draws on decades of experience with adhesives to select and utilize the right skin-friendly materials for medical tapes and patches. This, combined with our longstanding relationships with many major suppliers, makes it possible for us to recommend ideal medical-grade materials to suit our clients' precise needs and specifications.

Our skin tapes and adhesives have been trusted for use in a wide range of applications, including:

  • Wearable patches and devices
  • Wound care
  • Radiopaque skin imaging markers
  • Wearable sensors

Plus, as an FDA-registered manufacturer, Tapecon can work with ISO 10993 biocompatible materials.

Tapecon's Contribution To Health Technology

For decades, our team at Tapecon has been putting its expertise in printing, electronics, converting, and manufacturing to work for a wide range of industries—and we're excited about the potential to apply this experience to the emerging field of stick-to-skin health sensors. From bonding tape and wearables to shielding tape and more, we already have our fair share of experience in helping customers with this kind of technology.

If you’re interested in the technology or applications of medical skin tapes, check out our podcast with Bret Ludwig, Senior Product Development Engineer at 3M.

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 stick-to-skin applications.


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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