Frequently Asked Questions
What types of catheters can your machines tip?
Vante and PWS tipping machines can produce a wide variety of catheters, shapes and sizes to meet nearly every application.
- Tube OD’s ranging in size from 22ga up to 10mm
- Tip lengths up to 5-1/2”
A: Symmetrical and asymmetric shapes including single and multiple lumen openings.
B: Tapers with through holes.
C: Edge break / edge radius with through holes.
D: Closed end full radius, bullet tips, Tiemann and Coude
E. Flares and flanges
F: Butt welding different sizes / durometers together to form extended lengths
G: Custom configurations
4: Tube constructions include single and multi-lumen, laminations and braided laminations
5: Polymers include PVC, HDPE, PP, PU, Grilamid, Pebax, Polyamide, PEEK, FEP, TPE… and most other thermoplastics. Thermosets like PTFE have limitations for configurations.
What size holes can you punch in a catheter?
- Round holes 3mm and larger
- Ovals – minimum 1mm width x 3mm length
- Skived eyelets – inquire
- For all non-rigid thermoplastics. Inquire about applications involving rigid thermoplastics.
- Our systems can be designed to handle your supplier’s style of punches.
Do you do contract manufacturing?
We do offer limited sample production to enable certification of our dies. Other limited production may be provided depending on circumstances and available capacity. Otherwise, we have excellent relationships with many contract manufacturers for referral.
Can you help us adjust our current machine for a new application?
Yes, we have a large team of highly skilled sales executives, engineers and technicians available to assist. Our team will assess your application and equipment for suitability and manufacturability, and then consult with your team to select the best recommendation for your situation.
What’s the best way to clean my die?
Die polishing is a finely developed skill that requires proper training, equipment and compounds. We provide a manual outlining the basic information, as well as virtual or on-site training specific to your dies. Contact your sales executive for more detailed information.
What is customer service like after a sale?
We strive to provide timely, situation-sensitive support through our sales, technical and aftermarket departments. Dedicated personnel and equipment help provide quick responses based on your specific needs. Our inventory of standard parts along with our die assurance program help assure any issues are quickly mitigated. Multiple regionally-located assets help provide real-time support to your team. The aftermarket support team is specifically structured to provide you with a single point of contact to initiate responses to any issues.
How long do you need lead-time wise when ordering?
Our goal is to provide industry-leading turnaround on your purchase orders. Lead times are structured to meet varying complexities and quantities of your tooling & systems. Other factors on lead time include the type of certification you require and your specific business situation. Our Rapid Prototype program can deliver proof-of-concept samples made from tooling designed specifically for your application in as little as 2 weeks. We have a network of internal and external suppliers to meet critical requests within 2-4 weeks (as long as they meet certain criteria), and our standard production capabilities generally range from 8 weeks or longer.
What is induction heating?
Induction heating is a process that uses radio frequency energy broadcast through a specially formed cylindrical coil to heat up metal objects that are placed inside the coil. The process is very controllable, precise and repeatable.
How does induction heating work for catheter manufacturing?
Radio frequency energy is broadcast through a specially designed coil that encircles a metal forming die. The forming die is heated with induction to a specific temperature as the catheter tubing is inserted into it. The plastic polymer of the tubing is softened and reformed into the shape of the forming die. After cooling, the formed tube is removed from the die.
What are the different parts of a catheter made using induction heating?
- Catheter Tipping: two styles of catheter tips can be formed. Closed tips, usually a spherical radius end, seal the tube’s lumen to provide a smooth external round end. Open tips, often with two or more angled external tapers, can be formed to provide a smooth transition from the ID to the OD of the tube.
- Catheter Tube bonding: in specialized catheters, single and multiple lumen tubes are often joined to short sections of tubes made from a softer durometer plastic. These “soft tips” are permanently attached to the multi-lumen tubes and usually feature an open tip with a smooth transition from the soft tip OD to the catheter tube OD.
- Balloons on various catheters and endotracheal products can be bonded to the catheter tube OD using induction heating. These welds are superior to solvent bonded balloon joints because the sharp edges of the balloon stems can be smoothed – to enhance patient comfort. Also, no solvent is needed, so specialized fume removal systems are not required. There are some limitations to balloon bonding, so be sure to check with PlasticWeld technical experts before starting any projects.
Can you use induction heating to make products other than catheters?
- Endotracheal tubes often require smooth formed tips and smooth eyes in addition to bonded balloons. All three processes are perfectly suited for induction heating.
- Filter media can be welded to molded plastic housings.
- Polymeric tubes can be fastened to stainless steel cannula.
What are the maximum and minimum size catheters that work with induction heating?
PlasticWeld has successfully installed systems utilizing tubes as small as 0.013” OD (1 french size) and as large as 0.780” (60 french size).
Why is induction heating better than other heating processes?
- Some catheter forming equipment relies on continuously heated dies. Although they do a good job forming the plastic, the formed areas do not have the chance to cool below the polymer’s softening point before removal from the die. This allows the possibility of distortion either during the removal process or in subsequent handling.
- Other catheter forming processes rely on radio frequency generators using vacuum tubes. The performance of these tubes starts to decay from the first use and continues until it cannot heat up the metal dies. This continuous performance decay should be of particular concern to medical device manufacturers who rely on validated processes for their critical products. PlasticWeld’s equipment utilizes state-of-the-art solid state electronics to generate and control the process. The process remains consistent for the life of the equipment.
- PlasticWeld’s induction heaters feature a proprietary power supply with water-cooled induction coil. When combined with solid state electronics, PLC control, and our proprietary forming dies, you are assured of consistent, repeatable performance for each and every cycle.
- Also, PlasticWeld’s induction heaters provide fast, in-process cooling so you are assured of a fully formed part that retains its shape. No special handling is required, so your manufacturing process is robust and the end quality of your product is the best possible.
What types of plastics or polymers work with induction heating?
Most conventional thermoplastic polymers can be formed on PlasticWeld’s equipment. PVC, PU, Polyamide, PEEK, PTFE and others have been successfully produced.
If you are not sure about a polymer’s ability to be formed by induction, send us a sample for a free trial.
What types of plastics or polymers do not work with induction heating?
- Thermoset polymers do not form well using secondary processing technologies. These types of plastics feature high heat resistance, and due to their molecular make up, and once produced, will only degrade with application of further heat.
- If you are not sure about a polymer’s ability to be formed by induction heating, send us a sample for a free trial.
Why is PlasticWeld’s equipment better than other manufacturers’ equipment for catheter manufacturing?
- PlasticWeld’s induction heaters feature a proprietary power supply with water-cooled induction coil. Combined with solid state electronics and PLC control, you are assured of consistent, repeatable performance from each and every cycle.
- Most other forming processes rely on continuous heat dies. Although they do a good job forming the plastic, the formed areas do not have the chance to cool below the polymer’s softening point temperature before removal from the die. This allows the possibility of distortion either during the removal process or subsequent handling.
- Also, PlasticWeld’s induction heaters provide fast, in-process cooling so you are assured of a fully formed part that retains its shape. No special handling is required, so your manufacturing process is robust.
- PlasticWeld’s equipment is designed to have the smallest total footprint possible. Tooling is mounted directly on the machine and presented to the operator for maximum ease of use.
Can I get prototypes?
- PlasticWeld offers free prototyping for most situations. We request you send us enough raw materials and complete specifications so we can generate samples that meet your expectations.
- Prototypes are generally completed within 2 weeks after receipt of raw materials.
What does a typical machine cost?
Due to the large number of variations and options available, we cannot provide a “one-size-fits-all” machine price. Please contact PlasticWeld to discuss the best strategy for your product and manufacturing concept.
How fast can I get the machine?
Precision tooling is custom-developed to match the specific requirements of each customer. Our lead times generally range from as little as 4 weeks to as much as 16 weeks depending on the complexity of the tooling.
Can you help me develop the manufacturing process?
PlasticWeld provides a fully detailed process set-up sheet with all turn-key systems sold. We ask that you provide sufficient raw materials for process development. Approval samples will be sent prior to shipment of the completed machine.
What information comes with the machine?
PlasticWeld provides an easy-to-read manual that describes the operation of the machine, lists preventative maintenance procedures and includes copies of all relevant electro-pneumatic schematics.
What options are available that can be added to the base machine? The following options can be added to most machines:
- Multiple forming cavities
- Larger power supply
- Cooled die holders
- Air chillers for cooling system
- Programmable electric slides for movement
- Dual alternating system that allows the operator to switch back and forth between two different sets of tools
- Ethernet board – allows remote access and monitoring of the machine’s performance
What is the typical cycle time for tipping?
Cycle time is dependent on the amount and type of polymer being formed. In general, larger masses require more forming and cooling time. Through the years, we’ve seen cycle times as short at 3 seconds and as long as 40 seconds.
What is the difference between a formed and punched eye?
Eye forming differs from punching in one important way. Formed eyes have smooth, rounded edges that minimize tissue trauma, whereas punched eyes have sharp edges.
What is the typical cycle time for eye forming?
Cycle time is dependent on the wall thickness of the tube and the polymer. In general, thicker walls require more processing time. Through the years, we’ve seen cycle times as short at 10 seconds and as long as 40 seconds.
What is the difference between eye forming and skived or drilled holes?
Formed eyes have smooth, rounded edges that minimize tissue trauma, whereas drilled or skived holes have sharp edges.
Can two tubes be welded together using induction?
- Yes, two tubes of the same or compatible polymers can be successfully joined using induction heating.
- In specialized catheters, single and multiple lumen tubes are often joined to short sections of tubes made from a softer durometer plastic. These “soft tips” are permanently attached to the multi-lumen tubes and usually feature an open tip with a smooth transition from the soft tip OD to the catheter tube OD.
Can tubes with wires inside the lumen be formed using induction?
Yes, any type of wire (solid, braided, spiral wound, etc.) can be present in a tube lumen without affecting the tube’s ability to be formed.
Does PlasticWeld make equipment other than induction heating systems?
PlasticWeld Systems is a full-function machine shop with many years of experience in customized plastic joining equipment. Film sealers and heaters, tube coiling units, ultrasonic tooling, hot air heaters and film cutting equipment are a few of the custom units designed and built during the past 16 years.
We would be happy to consult with you on any projects involving plastic forming, welding or bonding.
What is the typical preventative maintenance needed for PlasticWeld’s induction units?
Due to their solid state electronics and high quality tooling, preventative maintenance on PlasticWeld equipment is minimal. Monitoring the water quality of the coil chiller water and regular surface cleaning of the exterior surfaces are all that’s recommended.