From restoring mobility to re-enabling everyday tasks, prosthetics elevate a patient’s quality of life. Whether they take the form of artificial limbs or simpler, more cosmetic devices, prosthesis place many demands on the materials used to make them.

For instance, by their nature, prosthetics must be in contact with at least some part of the patient’s body for prolonged periods. This in turn requires that those areas of the prosthetic in contact with the patient be made of a highly biocompatible material. Likewise, the liner sections of prosthetic limbs which must fit against the residual limb must be able to absorb the shocks of regular use, including the dynamic forces of activities such as running.

Silicones possess many properties which are needed for prosthetics: a vast selection of available duromers (from soft to stiff), chemical inertness, biocompatibility, durability, the ability to bind to various substrates (often without a primer), and a wide useful temperature range. These are all reasons why liners for artificial limbs are commonly made from silicone.

Medical grade silicones have the added advantage of the exceptional purity and cleanliness needed for safe long-term contact with the patient’s body, allowing them to be used in a multitude of prosthetic applications.

For almost any prosthetic application, there is a silicone type or fabrication method that can meet the need. The low viscosity of Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) is perfect for quickly filling injection molds. On the other hand, High Consistency Rubber (HCR) can be a great choice for parts made by transfer molding, compression molding, or extrusion. Medical grade Room Temperature Vulcanizing (RTV) silicone rubbers are also utilized in prosthetics.

Prosthetics and the Medical Grade Silicone Market

The size and growth of prosthetic segment of the medical grade silicone market will continue to employ all these forms of medical grade silicones. According to a market report published last year, prosthetic applications of medical grade silicone accounted for almost $121 million, which the report attributes to “diversified segmentation, including orthopedic implants, cardiovascular implants, stents, structural cardiac implants, spinal implants, neurostimulators, ophthalmic implants, dental implants, and face and breast implants.” That same report projects that number to grow too due to “innovative technological innovations and increasing FDA approvals” for clinical trials, among other factors.

This growth can already be seen in the continued release of new medical grade silicones for prosthetic and orthopedic applications. Wacker’s new medical grade RTV silicones are just one example. The new low temperature curing medical grade LSRs released by Dow Corning are another. The release of materials like these enable prosthetic designers and manufactures to produce prosthetics which are more durable, higher performing, dependable, comfortable, and safer.

The quality, purity, and cleanliness of medical grade silicones set them apart from other silicone grades, and make them uniquely suitable for prosthetics, as we explained above. Increasing commercial availability and competition among silicone suppliers should make these medial grade materials more affordable.

New Uses

More affordable material choices will be key in opening the door to new prosthetic options, and ultimately better patient outcomes. This is just as true for temporary prosthesis as it is for permanent prosthesis like artificial limbs. For example, high temperature vulcanizing medical grade silicone is already being used for temporary cranial prosthesis. Among the benefits of using this medical grade silicone over acrylic and metal are:

  • Improved cosmetic appearance
  • time saved during cranioplasty surgery
  • Adequate bone closure due to the silicone’s flexibility

Medical grade silicone’s purity, sterility, biocompatibility, lack of magnetism, durability, transparency to x-rays, and low thermal conductivity make it an excellent material for cranial prosthesis, and prosthetic devices in general.

Medical grade silicones are widely used for prosthetics, and that as new applications emerge, their usage will only grow. No matter how the industry unfolds, ProMed has you covered—from injection molding LSR to compression molding HCR, from artificial limbs to implants.

The Use of Medical Grade Silicones for Prosthetics
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The Use of Medical Grade Silicones for Prosthetics
From restoring mobility to re-enabling everyday tasks, prosthetics elevate a patient’s quality of life. Whether they take the form of artificial limbs or simple........
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ProMed Molding
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