Ultimately on this blog, I try to keep the marketing of my own products to a minimum because what I am trying to do here is provide an educational resource. The title is deceptive, therefore, because I am actually thinking broadly and more literally about how any lubricious coating can be applied in spec, on time, and on budget. I do this because I was recently presented with a marketing piece from a medical device development company that broke their services down into precisely those three categories.
So, what is involved with getting a hydrophilic coating onto a commercial device in spec, on time, and on budget, and how much of that is dependent on the vendor versus just plain old reality?
Let me focus on specs in this article. Maybe later I will cover the others.
A couple of years ago, I posted a checklist for hydrophilic coatings. That post explained many of the questions a potential client should answer before contacting a vendor. Like the coatings white paper I wrote on the same basic subject, it explains that you need to at least know what the device will be used for, i.e. what industry, what procedure, as well as what the materials used in the device are, among other things.
Once those things are known, there is another layer below that. For example, lubricity is a broad term to mean slipperiness, but just how slippery should the medical device surface be? What coefficient of friction do you want? 0.1? 0.01? Teflon is a great hydrophobic coating that can go as low as 0.1, but true hydrophilic coatings are needed to get to 0.01.
After understanding the friction (or lack thereof) at the surface, what sort of use will the device experience? Is it going to be quickly inserted in vivo and then removed after a few seconds, or is it going to abrade against the inner lumen of a blood vessel, or maybe even another hard plastic catheter?
Being able to tell your coating vendor what you want is important, and that is independent of the coating vendor. In some ways, most hydrophilic coatings on the market are the same, but they do differ in other important ways as far as processing, composition, and business models. They also can influence the other two pieces of this puzzle: time and budget.